Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid comprised of free fatty acids, including lauric acid and capric acid. It has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Coconut oil absorbs easily into skin, where it may prevent free radical damage. It may also improve the quality and overall appearance of dry, damaged skin.
Commercially available coconut oils can vary significantly in quality. Virgin, organic coconut oil is the purest form and may be best for skin health.
Stretch marks are scars that can result from skin stretching too quickly or beyond its elastic capacities. They can occur in both men and women.
Stretch marks are not a cause for medical concern; they’re a natural occurrence that most people experience. However, some people may wish to attempt to prevent them from occurring or reduce their appearance. Consistently applying virgin coconut oil to the skin, either alone or with other emollient oils, may help reduce the occurrence of stretch marks or speed their healing. It may also help to diminish their appearance.
Stretch marks are caused when the skin’s lower layers of connective tissue (the dermis) are stretched beyond capacity, causing tears to form. When skin stretches to its breaking point, it weakens and breaks the collagen fibers within its layers. This allows the blood vessels underneath to show through. That’s why stretch marks appear red or purple, and sometimes look slightly raised.
Dry skin is less elastic and more likely to tear than nourished, hydrated skin. Keeping skin moisturized may help eliminate or reduce the occurrence of stretch marks. Coconut oil can help keep skin hydrated and supple. Along with making proactive choices, such as drinking lots of water, this may be helpful for preventing stretch marks.
Stretch marks can occur anywhere on the body where skin becomes stretched, such as:
- upper arms
Stretch marks can result from:
- muscle building or weight lifting
- formation of breasts during puberty
- weight gain
Stretch marks don’t hurt and aren’t a health concern. They can sometimes be itchy. Since stretch marks are scars, they can only be removed surgically, once they occur. They do, however, lighten over time, becoming white, silvery, or transparent. Their appearance may also be reduced or diminished through use of hydrating and moisturizing treatments, such as coconut oil.
Stretch marks can’t be removed by using coconut oil or any other topically applied product. But coconut oil may improve the overall appearance of skin, which could reduce the look of stretch marks. It may also promote healing and prevent stretch marks from occurring.
There isn’t a large body of scientific evidence linking coconut oil to a reduction in stretch marks because it hasn’t been studied significantly for this condition. However, a review of multiple studies on plant oils and their effect on skin included findings on virgin coconut oil and its positive impact on skin health. According to the review, coconut oil can speed wound healing and promote collagen turnover in wounds. It’s also been shown to reduce inflammation.
Coconut oil is highly emollient and can help keep skin hydrated. This may make it more elastic and less prone to stretch marks. Its lauric acid content also makes it easily absorbed deep into skin’s layers, where it may have a positive effect on collagen production. Use coconut oil as a topical treatment, or try putting it in your bath to silken skin.
Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce healing time for existing stretch marks. Its ability to hydrate skin deeply may also help reduce the itching associated with stretch marks.
Coconut oil is sometimes used to brighten the skin. You can try massaging it directly into your stretch marks to lighten them, or mix it with lemon juice prior to using.
Coconut oil is generally accepted as being safe to use. If, however, you’re allergic to coconuts, do not use coconut oil. Some people who are allergic to hazelnuts or walnuts also have allergic sensitivity to coconuts and may not be able to use coconut oil.
Having stretch marks on your body is normal, and some people celebrate them. It’s also fine to try out solutions like coconut oil if you wish to reduce the appearance of or prevent stretch marks. Before you do, understand that the evidence around the use of coconut oil for stretch marks is mostly anecdotal. While coconut oil cannot completely eliminate stretch marks once they’ve occurred, it may be used to reduce healing time and improve their appearance.