FAQs On Stretch Marks….
Stretch marks, also referred to as “striae distensae”, are a highly misunderstood skin disorder affecting approximately 70% of the female population and nearly 40% of adolescent males. Many questions surrounding this tricky skin concern are left unanswered, leaving all those afflicted feeling helpless, confused and frequently disappointed. Read below to find out the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions concerning stretch marks…
FAQ: What are stretch marks and how are they obtained?
Stretch marks develop deep within the secondary layer of the skin referred to as the dermis, where collagen and elastin are produced. Although stretch marks do frequently occur during rapid growth spurts, such as pregnancy or adolescence, the root cause is actually a class of hormones known as “glucocorticoids”. These hormones, which halt the fabrication of fibroblast activity, run rampant during periods of intense physical transition or during topical and/or oral steroid use. Fibroblasts are crucial to the production of both collagen and elastin fibers particularly when the skin is “stretching” at an abnormal or accelerated rate. Without the essential production of collagen, the supportive structure of the skin fails to reinforce the dermis, which leads to dermal tearing and epidermal thinning. The process itself is oddly similar to the development of wrinkles resultant from photodamage and its impact on the dermis. Stay tuned for the Natural Skin Shop Blog on photodamage titled “Damage Control: Repairing the Photodamage of Yesterday for a Brighter Tomorrow”.
FAQ: Am I doomed to acquire stretch marks during pregnancy?
A: Roughly 90% of pregnant women (predominantly Caucasian women) develop stretch marks at some point during their pregnancy. The third trimester is a particularly vulnerable time when the baby is growing rapidly. First things first, prepare in advance for the onset of stretch marks. Waiting for their ‘big debut’ is risky business! Avoid elasticity loss from the get-go (pre-natal) by fortifying the lipid barrier with skin-nourishing humectants and emollients such as vitamin E and olive oil. For existing stretch marks, the topical application of vitamin A treatments, such as Ashira Retinol Enliven Complex Moisturizer, is known to stimulate fibroblast activity and encourage the production of collagen. However, any and all vitamin A treatments should be postponed until the completion of both the pregnancy and the nursing period. Vitamin A is extremely harmful to infants and has been associated with long-term birth defects in high-doses. Topical vitamin C, such as C-Rx Vitamin C Potent Topical Serum 27, is also recommended for mild to moderate stretch marks. Over time, it can be used to effectively stimulate pigment and collagen production.
(While pregnant or nursing, please consult a physician regarding skin care procedure.)
FAQ: What are “glucocorticoids” anyhow?
A: Glucocorticoids are steroid hormones that impair fibroblast activity thereby halting the very necessary production of collagen and elastin. The fabrication of these crucial dermal fibers is essential to the skin’s support structure. When they fail to provide support to the dermis, stretch marks develop as a result of elasticity loss.
FAQ: My stretch marks are so ancient! I’m convinced they cannot be erased. Are stretch marks permanent?
Recent advancements in skin care technology have expanded the scope of skin-renewing opportunities. Lasers, chemical peels and microdermabrasion treatments have all proven to be highly successful at erasing (or at least camouflaging) these unsightly relics of time. A silver or white stretch mark, medically referred to as “striae distensae alba”, is indicative of a fully developed or “aged” stretch mark. Time is of the essence! Catching a stretch mark during the early phase of development, indicated by a red, blue or purple hue, is highly advantageous. Skin peels, most notably glycolic acid peels, effectively stimulate fibroblasts and can be used to effectively banish both newly formed and “ancient” stretch marks.
FAQ: Will tanning help to mask my stretch marks?
A: Tanning, by way of UV radiation exposure, will only make matters worse. For a quick fix cover-up, opt for self-tanners, which camouflage the problem without further debilitating essential dermal fibers (collagen and elastin).
FAQ: Can I prevent stretch marks and does a specific diet aid in averting stretch marks?
In short, stretch marks can be prevented, however, there are no guarantees. A healthy combination of both internal and external remedies can be used to both prevent and treat existing stretch marks. When it comes to stretch marks, try to reiterate (and initiate) the following three words:
- “Stimulate”-fibroblasts deep within the dermis! Think skin peels, topical vitamin C, vitamin A, microdermabrasion, photorejuvenation (lasers), etc!
- “Nourish”-the external barrier (the intracellular matrix) with NMF (natural moisturizing factors). Think hyaluronic acid, glycerin, squalane oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, fatty acids, ceramides, sweet almond oil, etc.
- “Hydrate”-the internal barrier with essential fatty acids (healthy fats) and of course…water! Think salmon, olive oil, almonds, flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, avocados …and water, water, water!
Stretch marks don’t have to ruin your day…remember help is on the way! Natural Skin Shop XOXO Feel free to post your blog comments below!