Although Stretch Marks are medically benign, for many women, they are a source of annoyance. They are caused when skin is overstretched, which is what commonly occurs during pregnancy. Indeed, between 75 to 90% of women develop stretch marks on their breasts, thighs and abdomen during pregnancy. To make matters worse, stretch marks seem to pop-up almost overnight during the third trimester, just when you think you are home-free with smooth, blemish-free skin. The good news is that if you apply the following tips early in your pregnancy, stretch marks can be prevented from developing.
1. Get enough Zinc
Stretch marks, at the time they form, are almost always a result of low zinc levels. This is partly why teenagers are so prone to them - Hormonal changes, stress, increased consumption of sugary/junk foods, are all depletors of Zinc. During pregnancy, zinc deficiency is particularly common because of the high demand for the mineral by the little peanut growing in your womb. The most bio-available sources of zinc come from grass-fed Beef and cooked seafood, particularly oysters (Raw seafood is not recommended during pregnancy). Vegetarian sources include seaweed, toasted wheatgerm, flaxseed/oil, nuts and seeds, lentils, spinach, asparagus.
2. Enhance skin elasticity
Skin that is elastic and supple has a lower risk of developing stretch marks when stretched. Luckily, skin elasticity can be increased if you follow a two-fold approach that addresses nutrition and topical care.
Retaining and increasing collagen formation is crucial for improving skin’s elasticity, and one of the best dietary sources of collagen is gelatin – this superfood not only boosts collagen formation, but also provides other trace minerals and nutrients that contribute to skin health. Bone broth is an excellent source of gelatin and is fairly easy to make. Try to drink at least a cup-full everyday, you can also use it in place of water to make soup, rice etc. Recipes for chicken and beef broth can be found at http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/broth-is-beautiful/
(Also a wonderful resource for pregnancy nutrition!)
Topical care: A German study titled "Attempt of preventive treatment of striae gravidarum using preventive massage ointment administration", suggests that two-thirds of women who apply a stretch mark oil/cream do not experience stretch marks. Regularly massaging a stretch mark oil to all stretch mark prone areas can greatly assist with replenishing your skin's natural oils thereby assisting with skin elasticity and preventing stretch marks. Avishi Organics Stretch Mark oil not keeps skin hydrated and supple through pregnancy but also contains powerful skin-cell regenerating ingredients such as Helichrysum, Rosehip, Gotu Kola, Sea Buckthorn, Borage and Tamanu, which are proven to help increase skin elasticity, smoothen skin texture, and enhance the repair process.
3. Tame the itching
Skin that is extra dry and stretched often results in itchy skin, and is typically a precursor to developing stretch marks. It is no wonder then that women most often complain about itchy skin during the third trimester, when their belly is at its largest. To tame the itching, avoid overly hot water while bathing, use gentle, natural soap that does not strip your skin off its natural oils, and immediately apply a hydrating oil while skin is still damp. Our Intensive Stretch Mark Oil contains Macadamia Oil, which protects the skin just like human sebum does, and allows it to deeply-penetrate and moisturize dry skin. Another key ingredient, Tamanu Oil, soothes the skin and helps relieve irritations, inflammation and itching. Our reviewers say that…
"It worked wonders on my itchy belly in my last stretch of pregnancy"
"I do feel that it has helped to relieve the belly itch and smooth my skin"
"The itching and burning on my skin has completely disappeared and the oil smells amazing"
If you live in a dry environment, the regular use of a humidifier may also help combat the dryness and subsequent itching. If intense itching persists, contact your health care practitioner
4. Stay hydrated
This cannot be overstated. Drink enough water! Lack of hydration can lead to dry, flaky, itchy skin - and dry skin does not stretch as easily as hydrated skin, which makes stretch marks more likely to occur.
5. Get some exercise
Exercising helps keep your muscles and skin firm, and improves circulation - This improved circulation means that your skin will get more of the nutrients it needs to stay supple, elastic and healthy. Always consult your healthcare practitioner before starting an exercise regimen during pregnancy.
6. Go natural
While this tip is not necessarily related to preventing stretch marks, it is still worthwhile to consider when selecting a topical stretch mark treatment. Considering that the application of a lot of drugs is through trans-dermal skin patches, it is evident that the skin absorbs a lot of what is applied to it. In fact, in a study by the Environmental Working Group researchers found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from babies born in U.S. hospitals; these chemicals included consumer product ingredients, pesticides and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage. Our Intensive stretch mark Oil is USDA certified organic and made from pure botanical extracts and oils that are renowned for their powerful healing properties; It is free from chemicals, fragrances, colors, parabens, sulfates and other toxic ingredients, and is safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
So, your best bet for combatting stretch marks is a combination of internal and external interventions. A nutrient-dense diet, plenty of gelatin-rich bone broth, exercise, topical oil massage, and plenty of water all contribute to healthy skin during and after pregnancy.