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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stretchy Skin - Avoid Those Marks!




Going through pregnancy, weight gain or loss or puberty can be stressful enough. Who has time to worry about stretch marks, too?

Let’s be real, no one likes stretch marks. Stretch marks, or “striae,” are a form of scarring that appears on the skin as pink, purple or red streaks. While they normally fade over time, they usually result in shiny white or gray lines. They can appear on men and women and occur when the dermis is stretched beyond its limit or during drastic hormonal changes.  Most people develop stretch marks due to rapid weight gain or weight loss, pregnancy or puberty. They usually develop on the abdomen, upper arms, breasts, buttocks, thighs or lower back.

Prevention
The best way to deal with stretch marks is to try to prevent them!
  • Stay hydrated – It may seem excessive, but try drinking the recommended eight glasses (or 64 ounces) of water every day. Water helps keep your skin healthy by keeping your skin cells plump and more likely to bounce back from the stress caused by stretching.
  • Eat healthier – If you aren’t currently pregnant, chances are you have yet to associate stretch marks with your diet. Including foods containing vitamin E, vitamin A, omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants will greatly benefit your skin health. If you need more information on the best foods for your skin, check out our blog post on the subject.
    • Some of these super foods include fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, walnuts, red bell peppers, fish, eggs and oysters. 
  • Exercise – No exercise will eliminate or reduce stretch marks (and for guys bulking up at the gym, it can cause them if you gain too quickly), but may help prevent them from occurring. Exercising helps the skin retain its elasticity by improving circulation. It may also help you avoid gaining too much weight, too fast. 
  • Avoid scratching – Don’t do it! Scratching areas where you are likely to get stretch marks will further harm your skin from the pulling and stretching. If you feel itchy, apply massage oils or creams instead of scratching. Massaging the skin will promote new skin growth and blood circulation.
  • Use stretch mark creams – People anticipating stretch marks, especially pregnant women, should apply a stretch mark cream or ointment at least twice each day. Did you know that 75 percent to 90 percent of pregnant women get stretch marks related to their pregnancy? By applying the recommended creams (listed below), you can decrease your chance of developing stretch marks.
Best Creams for Stretch Mark Prevention
  • Dermology
  • Revitol
  • Strivectin
These products are relatively cheap (between $20-50) and can be purchased from Amazon or other online retailers.

Treatment
While treatments may help stretch marks fade, they will not completely remove them. Remember to treat stretch marks as early as possible for the best results. In the later stages, stretch marks are much more challenging to reduce.
  • Tretinoin cream – Use if the stretch marks are only a few months old (still red or pink). Tretinoin works to help rebuild collagen, making the striae look more like your normal skin.
  • Microdermabrasion – This involves a hand-held device that blows crystals onto the skin. The crystals help exfoliate the skin while the tiny vacuum removes the crystals and skin cells. This method promotes the growth of new, more elastic skin.
  • Laser therapy – By using intense wavelengths of light, laser therapy stimulates the growth of collagen and elastin production in your skin.
  • Glycolic acid – This is a type of fruit acid used in chemical peels that can be applied at home or by a dermatologist.
  • Vitamin C – Certain formulations and supplements of vitamin C may also increase collagen production.
Please note, your degree of success with any treatment will be impacted by your age, skin tone and even your diet. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist before starting any treatment or prevention methods to determine the best approach for you.

Have more questions? Leave them in the comments, and we’ll try to answer them there. If you’d like to make an appointment with Advanced Dermatology, click here.

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