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- MayoClinic.com; Aloe (Aloe vera); April 2011
- MayoClinic.com; Stretch Marks; July 2010
- MedlinePlus; Striae; Jonathan Kantor, M.D.; April 2009
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Also known as striae, stretch marks occur when your skin is stretched beyond its normal limits. Your skin behaves much like a rubber band: It has elastic fibers that allow it to stretch, but they break when pulled too far. When this occurs, collagen fibers grow in place, causing reddish and/or purplish marks that fade over time. Because these marks can mar the appearance of your skin, you may turn to remedies like aloe vera gel. The likelihood this gel will work for your stretch marks is low, however.
Aloe vera gel is derived from the aloe vera plant, a common houseplant that closely resembles a cactus. Leaves can be broken and squeezed for their gel, or the gel can be manufactured with other softening and soothing ingredients. One of aloe vera gel’s common uses is treating sunburns. Aloe vera also can be sold as a juice and consumed for its anti-inflammatory properties, such as to relieve stomach upset.
On an A to F scale, the Mayo Clinic rates aloe vera gel with a “C” for its ability to heal wounds like stretch marks. Studies seem to be mixed on the gel’s effectiveness, as the Mayo Clinic claims some studies have yielded positive results, while others have shown no visible benefits or even potential worsening of wounds.
If you do choose to use aloe vera gel on your stretch marks, the Daily Glow -- a health and beauty website -- recommends initiating use of the gel the minute you observe stretch marks. Because aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties, it is possible that applying it could limit the inflammatory effects or growth of stretch marks. For the gel to work most effectively, you must apply it at least once a day to areas where you may have stretch marks. Gently massage the gel in, rubbing it on the surrounding areas of skin as well.
With the lack of conclusive evidence, it is uncertain if aloe vera gel can help to heal your stretch marks when regularly applied. While alternative therapies and some anecdotal evidence claim aloe vera gel may help to reduce noticeability, it is important to maintain realistic expectations as to treatment options when you have stretch marks. Because these marks fade to white or silvery streaks over time, they will become less noticeable in the absence of skin treatments like aloe vera.
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