Friday, 7 August 2009

Stretch Marks

Unfortunately, stretch marks are more common in women. They occur during puberty, in pregnancy, and when a person grows or gains weight quickly. The areas most commonly affected are the abdomen, buttocks, thighs and breasts.

The skin is made up of three layers – the epidermis (outer layer), dermis, and subcutaneous. Stretch marks occur in the dermis of the skin. The skin is generally quite elastic in nature but when it is overstretched, the dermis stretches and breaks up in places allowing the deeper layers of the skin and blood vessels to show through causing stretch marks.

The cause of stretch marks in pregnancy is not only due to the rapid growth of the baby but it is also hormonal. During pregnancy, hormones are secreted to help soften the pelvis ready for labour but this also weakens the collagen in the skin allowing stretch marks to form more easily. Collagen can be weaker in some women than others which will also contribute to more stretch marks.

Recent research has shown that there may be a possible link between the strength of collagen and the strength of the pelvic floor muscles, so if you notice that you are getting a lot of stretch marks during your pregnancy I would recommend doing regular pelvic floor exercises to help strengthen the muscles.

Once stretch marks occur, the skin is permanently damaged so they will never totally go away but their appearance is reduced significantly with time making them less noticeable. Stretch marks are often red or purple when they first appear which gradually fade to a silvery-white colour.

Ensuring that your body and skin is well hydrated and healthy will make your skin more elastic reducing the risk of stretch marks forming. Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet to keep the body in shape and use nourishing creams or oils on the skin to help keep it supple. Oils and creams can also be applied to stretch marks to help soften their appearance.

Oils which are good for stretch marks include vitamin E, rosehip seed, calendula, hypercium, olive, and wheatgerm. Essential oils which are good for stretch marks include neroli, black pepper, geranium, patchouli, sandalwood, lemon, orange, lavender, frankincense, and mandarin. Also, cocoa butter might be worth giving a try as it is said to soften the appearance of scars.

When using creams and oils, it is best to apply them once or twice a day for it to be most effective.

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