The Truth about Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are long, narrow scar-like streaks that develop on the skin. They usually occur when the skin cannot resume normal form after a period of being stretched or shrunk quickly. This includes:-

  • A growth spurt during puberty
  • Pregnancy
  • Weight gain
  • Bodybuilding- Rapid development of muscle mass

Stretch marks result from:-

  • The tearing of the dermis (middle layer of skin).
  • The normal production of collagen (which makes up the connective tissue in our skin) being disrupted when the skin is overstretched.

Stretch marks can also be called striae, striae distensae (SD), striae atrophicans, and striae gravidarum.

There is some evidence to suggest that genetics can sometimes play a role in susceptibility to stretch marks. 

Approximately 75% of women experience stretch marks from pregnancy.

Early stretch marks are usually red or purple. Over time, stretch marks lose their colour and become white or silvery in appearance. 

Although less common, stretch marks can also be caused by:-

  • Certain Medical conditions: such as Marian Syndrome, and Cushing’s syndrome. Marfan syndrome can cause decreased elasticity in the skin tissue, and Cushing’s syndrome can cause an over production of a hormone (cortisol) that leads to rapid weight gain and skin fragility.
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroid creams and ointments (such as hydrocortisone)- which can decrease levels of collagen in the skin.
  • Also -people who have to take high doses of oral corticosteroids for months or longer.

Nutritional deficiencies can contribute to stretch marks. Especially low levels of Zinc, Vitamin C and Essential Fatty Acids. A diet high in processed foods can often cause a deficiency in these nutrients.

Foods that can help

A diet high in essential fatty acids (EFA’s) help maintain a healthy skin cell membrane. Fish rich in EFA’s include salmon, sardines, mackerel (& other oily fish). Certain nuts & seeds, avocados, and flaxseed oil are also good forms of EFA’s.

Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the development of collagen. Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables. Eg Citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons, berries, cherries, papaya, peppers (capsicum) kale, broccoli etc.

Protein is required to make Collagen. Good sources include lean red meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy & lentils.

Zinc is also important for collagen production, as well as skin repair and healing. Zinc rich foods include nuts (especially brazil nuts), fish, meats (such as beef, lamb, pork & turkey), eggs, dairy, quinoa and legumes. These zinc rich foods are important to help keep your skin healthy.

Vitamin A protects skin health and also encourages the formation of new skin cells. Liver and cod liver oil are excellent sources Of Vitamin A. Other good sources include bright orange vegetables and fruits (such as carrots, sweet potatoes, mangos and apricots) and leafy greens such as spinach and kale.

What else can help

Staying hydrated

Drinking enough water can help keep our skin supple and hydrated. As does applying topical hydrating and moisturising products. Soft hydrated skin tends to be more elastic and does not to develop stretch marks as easily as dry skin does.

Hyaluronic acid

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD),  two large studies showed that applying hyaluronic acid to early stretch marks made the stretch marks less noticeable.

Retinol 

Another study showed that people who applied a good strength Retinol cream every night for 24 weeks had less noticeable stretch marks. Those who didn’t apply the cream saw their early stretch marks grow. Other studies have found similar results.

Sunless self-tanner

While tanning can make stretch marks more noticeable, a good quality sunless self-tanner can camouflage stretch marks.

The following procedures can decrease the look of stretch marks:-

  • Fractioned Laser Therapy – helps stimulate the skins collagen and elastin. There are various types of laser therapy. C02 Laser Therapy is another. See more here
  • Skin needling .  See more info here
  • Chemical peels – resulting in peeling off the top layers of damaged, dead skin to activate new skin cell production. 

Other

Oder stretch marks that are white or shiny silver in appearance, are much harder to treat. On the other hand, if they are redish or pink in colour, there is a better chance of improvement.

 Victoria Isherwood (Registered Nurse / Dermatology)

Is It Possible To Have Glowing Skin after 50?

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Changes in our SKIN after 50 predominantly occur due to

  • The multiple effects of hormonal fluctuations
  • A shrinking skeleton
  • Decreased collagen production
  • Accumulated sun damage over the years
  • Repetitive facial expressions over the years (causing lines and wrinkles to become etched in).

Some of the typical skin changes that occur during this period of estrogen decline:-

  • Dryer (and sometimes itchy) skin
  • Thinning skin
  • Decreased elasticity
  • Sensitivity
  • An increase in rosacea and other inflammatory skin conditions
  • Increased  pigmentation (äge spots”)
  • Lines and wrinkles & volume loss.

Fortunately, there’s lots we can do for healthy skin after 50 

Cleanse GENTLY

Cleansing is an important skin care step at every age. However, as we get older our skin becomes more delicate and drier. So we need to use a cleanser that is right for our skin. Choose either creamy formulas or cleansing masks -rather than harsh foam or gel cleansers (which can strip moisture away and compromise our delicate lipid barrier).

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Oestrogen stimulates the production of oils in our skin and also our skins ability to hold moisture. So when oestrogen production diminishes  – dry and sometimes itchy skin becomes a common problem.

Although ‘Dry’ and ‘dehydrated’ seem like two words which describe the same thing;- there is a big difference when it comes to our skin! To put it simply, dehydrated skin lacks water and dry skin lacks oil / lipids.

In relation to skin care, hydration means increasing the amount of water in our skin cells, which results in a healthy, smooth and plump complexion. When our skin doesn’t have enough moisture, it gets scaly, rough and dull.

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Moisture and hydration skincare products do different things. A moisturiser tends not to hydrate the skin. Instead it forms a barrier to prevent moisture from escaping. A hydration product on the other hand – actually brings water to the skin. So, it is important that we give our skin the right combination of hydration and moisture.

If you are not using a serum now YOU SHOULD. Most contain effective anti-aging ingredients not typically found in other products such as cleansers, toners, moisturizers,or facial oils.

You Still Need SPF

The maintenance of Melanocytes (cells that manufacture the pigment Melanin) is under the control of estrogens. During menopause, the number of melanocytes in the skin is therefor reduced (due to a decrease in estrogen). Less melanocytes, means we produce less of the protective melanin. Our skin therefore becomes more prone to sun damage.

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Although a lot of the damage was caused by the amount of sun we got in our 20s, 30s, and 40’s, it’s still vital to protect our skin from further damage. So include a broad-spectrum SPF as part of your daily skincare regime.

Sunscreen for anti-aging

Hit the Brown Spots

Pigmentation äge spots” on the face, hands, and chest can look more obvious around menopause. Help prevent them by using sunscreen every day. Already got spots? See here

Clean up your DIET and consider your GUT

Eating foods rich with antioxidants can help your skin from the inside out. See more here regarding skin boosting super foods to increase in your diet and here for foods to avoid. Also consider:- Omega-3’s

Consider your Mental Health 

Our mind and skin are very much connected. This is now being referred to as Psychodermatogy.

Constant stress increases the production of our stress hormone ‘cortisol’. This then triggers inflammation and can also throw off other hormones in our body.  Increased inflammation is not good news for inflammatory skin disorders.

Stress can also disrupt the balance between the good and bad bacteria in our gut. As we know, our gut health can also cause havoc with our skin. See Gut Article

Take time during your day to reduce stress levels. Try yoga, meditation, pilates, going for a walk, reading OR any other stress-reduction techniques – to help reduce cortisol levels.

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Get Moving

Exercise helps keep our skin healthy and vibrant. The multiple benefits of exercise include:-

  1. Increased circulation, including blood flow. This
    results in oxygen and nutrients being delivered to
    our skin.
  2. An increase in blood flow, also helps waste products 
    to be carried away from our skin.
  3. Endorphins (our feel good hormones) are produced. This subsequently helps reduce stress levels and cortisol. This can result in an improvement of acne, eczema and other skin conditions.

Upgrade your Skincare regime

  • Upgrade your Skincare Regime / Products – to suit your changing skin conditions. Visit the Solution Tool for further advice regarding which skincare products will best suit your individual skin concerns.

Bulk Up on Beauty Sleep

Getting enough sleep helps your skin look younger. Lack of sleep can cause hormonal imbalances (and also decrease our metabolisms). It can also increase  flare-ups of inflammatory skin conditions and adult acne. getting adequate sleep helps prevent dark circles under our eyes, and it also gives the rest of our body a chance to recharge.  Aim for 7-9 hours per night.

Sleep and your skinAnd a Retinol serum at night

Retinol (Vitamin A) is clinically proven to make a huge impact on how skin ages. Dermatologists have been prescribing it for decades as the gold standard for promoting skin cell turnover and collagen production. It helps to correct lines, wrinkles, and scarring and can also help with breakouts.

Retinol benefits

Minimize Wrinkled Skin

Wrinkles are formed from a combination of too much sun over the years, hormonal change, repeated facial expressions, a loss of collagen, and thinning skin. Wrinkles are more obvious when our skin is dry. SO use a hydrating serum and a moisterising cream every day.

  • Some people choose to get muscle relaxant injections – these work to prevent the formation of static wrinkles by stopping the signal between the nerve and muscle. The decreased movement in the muscle places less stress on the skin helping to give a fresh and youthful appearance. Anti-wrinkle injections are made from a purified protein that temporarily causes facial muscles to relax, instantly softening lines and wrinkles and reducing the severity of visible wrinkles. Please contact Victoria for more information on Laser Clinics Australia bookings. Or visit the  LCA website
  • Hyaluronic dermal filler injections – once again, this is a personal choice made by some people. A dermal filler helps re-volumise and hydrate the face. Made from hyaluronic gel – a natural sugar already present in the human body. Hyaluronic can help restore fullness and volume in numerous facial areas. Visit here for more details.

Always use an Eye Cream.

The skin around the eye is thinner and more fragile. It requires a different efficacy and mix of ingredients than the skin on the rest of your face does.

Tip – Try keeping your eye cream in the fridge, as the cold cream will help constrict blood vessels to reduce puffy under eye bags in the mornings.

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Make sure your using skin products that suite YOUR skin type

It’s very important to choose cleansers, moisturizers, and a skin care routine formulated for your skin type. If you don’t know yours, find out at What’s Your Skin Type.

Skin Boosting Supplements

  • Certain supplements can do wonders for our skin especially if its a supplement your lacking in. For example Zinc, probiotics (see gut health), and Omega 3’s (which help with inflammation and dryness). See here for more

 

Victoria Isherwood (Registered Nurse)

Victoria Isherwood (Registered Nurse)

 

Keratosis Pilaris – Those annoying tiny bumps that can be found on the back of arms.

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Keratosis Pilaris is a common skin condition that causes patches of small rough raised bumps to appear on the skin. These tiny bumps (that look like pimples) are caused by a buildup of a protein called ‘Keratin’ (and also dead skin cells) at the opening of hair follicles. The condition sometimes gets referred to as ‘chicken skin’.

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The bumps usually appear on the upper arms (most common), thighs, and buttocks. Although less common, they can also show up the face. They are often accompanied with associated redness.

Those with dry skin, are more likely to have Keratosis Pilaris (KP). It may also occur in association with other skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis / eczema.  KP is usually worse in the winter months, when there’s less moisture in the air. It can often reduce slightly in the summer months.

Although Keratosis Pilaris can occur at any age, it is more common in children and teenagers. It usually reaches its peak prevalence in adolescence and for some, may disappear after the age of 30.

Keratosis Pilaris results from the buildup of keratin which forms a scaly plug that blocks the opening of the hair follicle. Usually many plugs form, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin.

Flare-ups can increase when there is a vitamin A deficiency.

Treatment?

There is generally no 100% cure for this harmless skin condition, however there are ways to greatly reduce the severity and to prevent it from getting worse.

What can help:-

  • Use a gentle soap free body wash (soap can exacerbate dryness). Avoid lathering agents such as sodium lauryl sulphate which dehydrate the skin and strips beneficial lipid layers.
  • Use a ‘gentle’ exfoliator once or twice per week to remove dead skin (without irritating the skin and adding to the problem). A great example is R+F ‘Microdermabrasion Paste’.
  • Topical Retinoids (Vitamin A) help prevent hair follicles from becoming plugged. It also helps with skin cell turnover. However be careful as some Retinol creams are drying. See here for a recommendation.
  • LED or Intense Pulsed Light (ILP).
  • Creams containing salicylic acid, lactic acid, glycolic or urea which help support regular skin-cell proliferation. A good moisturiser will help prevent water loss from the skin (ie dehydration).
  • Laser hair removal
  • Eat anti-inflammatory food such as Omega-3’s found in Salmon, Walnuts, Sea Buckthorn etc
  • Avoid inflammatory foods (non fermented dairy, gluten and sugar).
  • See Gut Health
  • Humidifiers – add moisture to the air, which can maintain the moisture in your skin and prevent itchy flare-ups.
  • Soothe 2 sensitive skin treatment
  • See Skin Supplements
  • Avoid long hot showers which dry the skin out.

More on Vitamin A

Low levels of this vitamin have been associated with inflammation and acne.

Carrots are a source of Vitamin A.  HOWEVER the Beta Carotene (in carrots) needs to be converted into vitamin A in your intestines by gut flora. If you do not have the right gut flora it just won’t happen. See Gut Article. The better absorbed source of vitamin A is from cod liver oil and organ meat, particularly liver.

 

Note:- Women who are pregnant, or breast feeding, or may become pregnant should speak to their treating Doctor or Midwife Before taking Vitamin A supplements or using topical retinoids.

Victoria Isherwood

Registered Nurse

Essential Fatty Acids & Skin Health

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) have many health benefits including SKIN health. This is due to the fatty acids EPA & DHA.

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Essential Fatty Acids – particularly Omega-3’s

  • Help keep the skin moist and strong by reducing the amount of water lost through the epidermis (the top layer of skin).
  • Have anti-inflammatory properties – including the treatment of eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, keratosis pilaris and acne.
  • Help prevent premature aging of our skin.
  • Mental Health benefits (eg anxiety & depression).
  • Heart Health
  • Helps with the management of ADHD.

With most skin conditions, inflammation is a big part of the problem (externally and systemically). Therefore a high intake of EFA’s (particularly omega-3’s) is extremely beneficial.

Since the body doesn’t produce EFA’s, they must be obtained through our diet or from supplements. Good dietary sources include salmon, sardines, walnuts, avacado’s and flaxseeds.

Good EFA supplements include Fish oil, Sea Buckthorn & Krill oil. However keep in mind that there are fish oils and there are fish oils. SO many of the supplements found in our supermarkets are manufactured cheaply and can even be rancid! Choose a reputable company (eg BioCeuticals in Australia) where the fish oil undergoes strict testing to ensure its purity & to make sure it is of the highest quality, using ethically sourced fish free of heavy metals.

Victoria Isherwood

(Registered Nurse / Skin /Dermatology)

Victoria Isherwood (Registered Nurse)

About / Contact

Victoria has been nursing for 20 years. She has a double degree in Nursing and Health Science, as well as a Post Graduate in Midwifery. In addition, she has also undertaken comprehensive and extensive training in dermatology and the cosmetic field. Having an eye for detail, Victoria now works exclusively in skincare aesthetics as a Cosmetic Nurse.

Working in the Cosmetic/ Dermatology field, Victoria has seen a lot of fads come and go. This Blog aims to help you eliminate the confusion of an over abundance of Skin advice and products on the market today.  The objective  is to help you filter through the gimmicky products and advice, to get to the good material. All products shown are clinical grade, cruelty free, and have undertaken rigorous testing.

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Blog topics will help educate and shed light on various skin (& related health) concerns. It is important to take a wholistic approach when it comes to skin health. Blog topics will cover both conventional and functional medicine. This includes various treatment options, clinical grade products, natural products, hormones, gut health, cosmetic injectables, natural remedies and more.

Please read on to find out more

For in clinic skin treatments / injectables with Victoria at Laser Clinics Australia please visit here OR contact:-

Warriewood (Tuesdays) Ph: 02 83192078

Brookvale (Thursdays) Ph: 80148911

For dermatological clinically proven skincare products visit here

😊 Victoria Isherwood

Contact