Winning the Epic Battle Against Stretch Marks
Tomorrow is my birthday! I will be 29 years old and on that magical day I will also be exactly 6 months pregnant, which puts me into my third trimester (though I’m still confused as to how 40 weeks splits evenly into 3 trimesters, someone please enlighten me). For my birthday I decided (among several other more thoughtful and less superficial birthday wishes) that I want a pregnancy with no stretch marks. Which of course makes it hard for buying me a gift, but I’ve been doing research that hopefully will help more of you than just the “smug pregnant women” who may be reading this blog.
- Proper stretching and healing of skin is dependent on zinc. This is part of the reason that teens are so prone to stretch marks. Yes, they are growing really fast but they are also in a time of hormonal change, stress, and a tendency to eat more sugar and generally less nutritious food overall (at least when Mom is not looking) – all of which contribute to loss of zinc. Pregnancy is also a time of loss of zinc because that little parasite growing in your womb is taking it! In fact, over 80% of pregnant women worldwide are estimated to have inadequate zinc levels. Modern day low-fat and low-meat diets have greatly contributed to loss of zinc from the general population. To learn more about zinc and see a list of zinc rich foods, visit the Linus Pauling Micronutrient Information Center. If you are too lazy to do that, then I’ll just tell you that to get zinc in your diet, eat oysters, beef, and dark meat poultry. Vegetarians can include milk, almonds and spirulina but may want to think seriously about adding a zinc supplement or at least a multi that is rich in zinc (15 mg or more daily).
- Stretch marks can be prevented and reversed with topical zinc preparations. Most expensive creams and lotions intended for stretch mark and scar reversal usually contain zinc oxide as one of their active ingredients. Here is the beautiful thing I discovered last week at the drug store – Extra Strength Desitin, the diaper rash ointment, contains 40% zinc oxide! And it’s only like $6 for a tube. Needless to say, I bought a tube of it and have started using it on my belly to make sure the skin that is somehow going to stretch to unbelievable lengths will have enough zinc to do so. I haven’t gone super overboard on this, as the cream contains some preservatives that I’m not too excited about (namely BHT, which is also a food preservative so it can’t be TOO horrible) but half a teaspoon or less is plenty to get a good coat on. And the cream smells okay to me, but for my poor husband it just brings back memories of changing his little brothers’ diapers. Maybe not what you want to be associated with when you’re climbing into bed for the evening!
- Hydrated skin stretches more easily than dehydrated skin. I realize I am beginning to sound like Johnny One Note with my desire to make sure people are hydrated so I will just leave this bullet point at that. Hydrated skin stretches and is less likely to tear. So drink water.
- Coconut oil prevents stretch marks and helps fade existing stretch marks. I know – you are in shock and awe that I have worked coconut oil into this blog. But it’s true! I couldn’t find an actual study on coconut oil and stretch marks, but living here in Hawaii I have heard tons of anecdotal evidence from women of all shapes and sizes saying that coconut oil applied daily after showering prevented stretch marks. Also, several women had stretch marks from previous pregnancies and they noticed that these marks faded after using coconut oil. One reason coconut oil works better than other oils is that it is able to penetrate the skin to moisturize deeper layers of skin and prevent scar formation. Jojoba oil also has this property, but I prefer coconut oil personally because it is so heat stable (in other words, it can sit in my hot bathroom for months and I don’t have to wonder if it’s gone rancid) and it is less expensive per ounce than jojoba.