Buyer’s Guide in Choosing the Best Helmet for Motorcycle

For the pleasure seeker and those who want a quicker way to cover a distance without being trapped in a huge wave of commuters, riding on two wheels is a favorable option. It gives that exhilarating and enjoyable experience that may be taken as something else by those who would rather take other modes of transportation than getting exposed in the changing elements in the environment. Even the most experienced riders are prone to danger and injuries, so if you would like to give this a try, you will need the best helmet for motorcycle to stay on the safe side.

Before you hit the road or even plan that weekend getaway on backcountry roads you’ll need to make sure that you have all the necessary equipment that will make your ride a safe one. Nothing could be more important when you are out on the road and riding on a motorcycle than having a body protection. The best way that you can do this is by wearing a helmet. Riders who do not wear one are at risk of suffering from head and brain injuries should they meet an accident. Without protection, your body, especially your head, is susceptible to traumatic impact during a crash even if you are rolling at a slow speed.

Buyer’s Guide in Choosing the Best Helmet for Motorcycle

There are a huge number of brands and designs that offer several features. Which of these helmets should you consider? You can just pick one based on its appeal. You’ll need to do some research to really know if the product does as it says it does. That’s a good thing you landed on this page since this guide will provide you with some insights on what to look for before grabbing a helmet to provide the functionality and the design that you require.

When it comes to a motorcycle helmet, there are a variety of options that you have. These helmets have distinguishing features, which make it easy to differentiate them from a dirt bike or motocross helmet. Motorcycle helmets are more round and are made without the extended chin protection that is usually seen in helmets used for dirt bike riding. When it comes to helmets for motorcycle, here are your options:

  • Full face helmets
  • Dual Sport
  • Half Shell helmet
  • Modular helmets
  • Open Face helmet

When looking for the best helmet for motorcycle, here are the features that you will need to consider:

Will you be better off with a low-priced or a high-priced high-end helmet?

First, you will need to determine where you will use the helmet for. Do you plan to commute to work or for weekly road trips? Then, you may need to consider buying high-end helmets as they have features that make them comfortable when worn.

If you intend to use your motorcycle for everyday transportation or weekly road trips, high-end helmets may prove to be more comfortable and offer more than just great design, but also better dynamics. With a high-end helmet for motorcycle, you will be assured to find a versatile design that provides great comfort even when traveling a long distance or riding for extended periods of time.

Will you be on constantly on the road with a group?

You may be part of riding groups, so you’ll frequent the road with other riders. Many find this group experience more enriching and inviting, so they’d rather roll on the road with many other bikers than have a peaceful ride alone. When riding with a group, you’ll want to have a form or communication, so you’ll want a helmet that will allow you to do just that. There are helmet designs that allow one to install a blue tooth system so you can seamlessly stay connected as you ride, such as the ILM Bluetooth Integrated Modular Flip-up Full Face Motorcycle Helmet Sun Shield Mp3 Intercom.

Will you be needing a helmet when riding track or racing?

High-end helmets usually have to be Snell certified for tracks. These helmets offer additional features that provide a bit more protective capability in helmets than those usually worn when riding on public streets. They offer features like tear off posts and aggressive venting that riders need for a more comfortable ride when in the “tucked position.”

Then, you will have to consider the Helmet Shell Material

The materials of which the helmet is made will affect its weight, the comfort it offers, as well as its safety rating. With regards to the materials used, most helmets for motorcycle use the following:

  • Polycarbonate is a very versatile material that has a very appealing processing as well as physical properties, so it’s been used in many applications. They are used in making electronic components, construction materials, security components, cars, phones, and even in medical applications. Polycarbonate is a less expensive material and is also used as a component in manufacturing helmets.
  • Fiberglass composite. This is a more expensive material and, like polycarbonate, it flexes, crushes and splits as it absorbs energy.
  • Carbon fiber. The carbon fiber in motorcycle helmets helps distribute energy upon impact. This is the most expensive and lightest material used in making a helmet.
  • Expanded Polystyrene foam or EPS. This foam material is used as a liner and is densely compressed into a shock absorbing inner shell. It helps absorb impact to help protect the head from accidental trauma.

Helmet Weight

Another feature that you would want to consider when looking for the best helmet for motorcycle is the weight. Typical helmet weight ranges from 1400 to 1800 grams. You’ll want to fit a few helmets on your head to make sure that the weight of the helmet is evenly distributed around your head and shoulders.

Additional features

Many helmets today offer additional features other than those that respond to functionality. You will want to check for comfort, safety, and additional features like a sunshade, communication provision, and emergency cheek pad system, Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS)and so on.

The key element in determining the best helmet for motorcycle is the fit on your head. If it provides a perfect fit, you feel most comfortable with all the features in the helmet (even when you are moving about), then that will most probably be what you should buy.

Once you found the perfect helmet, you need to remember that you cannot keep that for life. A helmet that been used for five years should be replaced. Even if your helmet still looks good after five years, the materials used will definitely have already worn off from continuous exposure to natural elements. Any helmet that has experienced an impact should also be immediately replaced.

Once you have chosen the appropriate helmet to use, you can ride with confidence any time you need to.

Hydration Tips For Intense Workouts

During the recent years, there have been many variations when it comes to working out. Even though there are still some who considers hitting a pavement without a plan an exercise, many have diversified workouts to produce specific results. Today, gym instructors and even fitness enthusiasts have come to know the importance of knowing and applying various techniques in exercising to get the optimum result from a well-planned workout.

If you are also looking for the best way to stay fit, you know that understanding the specific workouts that you need to do to target problem areas. You are also well aware of the foods that you can take to complement your efforts for optimum performance. There is now see the difference between just getting things done from getting things done the right way. However, you also need to understand that there is an essential element that you need to take special consideration when the thought of exercising comes to mind. It may be a simple matter. Sometimes, the simplest things are what we most often neglect. This refers to the essentials of proper hydration for an intense workout. To be always at your best, especially when you are exercising, consider these essential tips.

These are the reasons why hydration is crucial

Staying hydrated can have a huge impact that you may ever think when it comes to doing workouts. Many health experts indicated that as you lose fluids, you will definitely experience a decrease in your physical and mental performance. However, you might also think and feel that what you are doing is more difficult than it actually is. As a result, your performance level may go down, when you only need is proper hydration to boost your energy and do as how you performed at the beginning of your workout.

If you can keep your energy and performance levels up, you will not only get a better result, but you will also avoid any possibility of having injuries and other concerns. It will also be an assurance that you will not suffer the symptoms of dehydration, which will not only affect your performance but your total well-being in the long run.

You will need proper hydration to allow your whole body to function properly. Every part of your body relies on water to do its function. H.H. Mitchell defines the different water content that the different parts of the body have in the Journal of Biological Chemistry 158. Your muscles and kidneys contain about 79% water. Even your bones contain much water, about 31%. Your lungs have about 83% water, the brain and your heart have about 73% water content, your skin 64%. Even the blood that carries nutrients to every part of the body has about 80% water content. Simply understanding that will help you understand that inadequate hydration will cause both physical and cognitive performance to suffer.

What is more important to note is that dehydration is not that easy to detect. That is also the reason why even seasoned athletes find it difficult to monitor and maintain their hydration levels.

You might have even noticed several people who go out to exercise without an adequate understanding of the importance of proper hydration, hence, neglects this very simple yet essential workout element.

Just how do you stay hydrated?

There are several factors that will influence hydration levels. These will include your age, body mass index, the intensity of your workout engagement, the temperature within your location, and so on. If you have a special condition, this will also affect how much and how frequent you will need water to hydrate. Basically, hydration is more of a personal thing. There is no single approach, but there are some guidelines which will help you determine this.

Hydration before, during, and after a workout

Good hydration only means getting the right amount of water (or any beverage for that matter) before, during, and after a workout. As we all know water regulates the body temperature and also help lubricate the joints. It helps transport nutrients throughout your body and gives you energy, so you can keep on moving and performing at your best. If you’re not adequately hydrated, your body can’t perform optimally. You may feel exhausted, may find it difficult to focus on what you are doing, will have muscle cramps, or may experience other serious symptoms.

First, you’ll want to be hydrated before you start. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 17 ounces (500 ml) of water or sports drink at least two hours before exercise, then another 8 to 12 ounces 10 to 15 minutes before. This will give enough time for your body to regulate total body fluids and help delay or avoid the damaging effects of dehydration during a workout.

You will also need to continue hydrating throughout your workout, too.  have to keep sipping throughout your workout too. If your planned exercise will last for more than 60 minutes, the ACSM also recommends to have about 3 to 8 ounces of liquid every 15 to 20 minutes. The important thing to remember is to monitor your fluid loss, however. If you perspire more or goes to the bathroom often), you will need more water throughout the session.

A good way to gauge the fluids that you lose is to weigh yourself before and after your workout. You will need to drink about 20 to 24 fluid ounces of water or sports beverage for every one pound lost, as recommended by the ACSM.

Do not overhydrate!

Yes, it is possible to drink more than you should. This may lead to a serious condition known as hyponatremia. Just as inadequate water consumption can cause cramps, a feeling of exhaustion, and even injury, drinking too much can also make you feel sick and cause your sodium level to go down to an inappropriate level.

Finally, it is also essential that you drink up as you end your workout session. Since you used up not only water in your body while you are exercising but also much energy to do your exercises,  you will also need to replace the lost electrolytes with something other than water.

Electrolytes  are minerals that keep your cells hydrated. They also help with muscle contraction as well as the proper functioning of your brain. The easiest way to replace lost electrolytes is to drink up sports drinks or eat an energy bar after a workout.

All these boil down to proper planning. If you need to go out for a workout, be sure to hydrate  before, during, and after, and monitor the fluid that you may be losing. Bring one of the best water bottles for gym to ensure that you can drink smartly

How To Effectively Benefit From Using Essential Oils During Pregnancy

Though there are several ways that one can benefit from essential oils, not every essential oil that you can find available online or in the market will be safe for pregnancy. So, how do you determine the best Essential oil for pregnancy? Read on to know more about this alternative therapeutic method.

Essential oils have a long history. These highly concentrated chemical compounds, when used properly, can have significant effects on the body. That is the reason why most of these essential oils are identified as GRAS or generally recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These aromatic essences been used for ages not only as beauty enhancers but also to serve other purposes like those which will be mentioned later.

Many have experienced the benefits of these essential oils. As such there has been an increase in consumer desire for alternative natural health and hygiene products like these essential oils. This demand has also increased the varying information as well as misinformation on the safe use of these oils.

These indicate that to maximize the benefits of any of the essential oils that are using (as long as they are pure-grade or of high-quality), you need to make sure that you are using the oil properly.

There are certain rules for safely and effectively using essential oils during pregnancy.

Precautions when using essential oils

Precautions when using essential oils

While you may be wanting to use lavender, lemon, or peppermint oils to relieve nausea, vomiting, and other pregnancy-related conditions during the early phase of your pregnancy, many health experts that recommend avoiding essential oils during this period. Your baby’s physical development is not yet complete during this time of your pregnancy. Moreover, there’s some risk that certain essential oils could cause uterine contractions that may negatively affect your baby.

Once you have reached the second and third trimesters there are certain essential oils that can provide relief from many pregnancy-related symptoms, however. There are many cases where conditions like nausea, swollen ankles, stretch marks, abdominal pains, varicose veins, and other related pregnancy symptoms are relieved using these essential oils.

Essential oils that can provide relief during pregnancy

Here is a list of essential oils that can safely provide relief to pregnancy-related symptoms:

frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, juniper, lavender, mandarin, marjoram (sweet), neroli, petitgrain, sandalwood, orange (sweet), tea tree, ylang-ylang.

Essential oils that should be avoided during pregnancy

While some essential oils are safe for use while you are expecting, many are not. The following oils are those that you should NOT use when you are pregnant:

  • Bay
  • Cinnamon Bark or Leaf
  • Clove Bud
  • Citronella
  • Cumin
  • Lemongrass
  • Lemon verbena
  • Oregano
  • Tagetes
  • Thyme
  • Aniseed
  • Birch
  • Camphor
  • Hyssop
  • Mugwort
  • Tansy
  • Parsley seed or leaf
  • Pennyroyal
  • Tarragon
  • Wintergreen
  • Wormwood

For a more comprehensive list of essential oils that may cause adverse effects during pregnancy as well as other related information, check the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy’s pages.

Essential Oil Safety Tips for Pregnancy

  • Using essential oils may also trigger allergic reactions on those who have very sensitive skins. To make sure that you can safely use a particular oil, it is best to perform a small patch test. You also need to stop using any essential oil once an irritation occurs.
  • If you have any type of inflammatory or allergic skin condition, do not use any of those essential oils that are known to trigger such condition like lemon, lemongrass, Melissa, fir, birch, and basil.
  • For oils that can increase photosensitivity such as pine, oregano, nutmeg, elecampane, clove, cinnamon, cassia, and black pepper, do not apply the oil within the 12 hours that you need to spend time directly in the sun.
  • Do not apply even diluted essential oils on open or damaged skin, wounds, burns or infected scrapes. They are more penetrable and may be highly sensitive to dermal reactions.
  • NEVER apply essential oils to the eyes or ear canals. If any of these oils get into the eye, place a few drops of a carrier oil in the eye then blink until the oil clears out. Wash your hands thoroughly after using oils to avoid spreading them into your eyes.
  • Apply a small amount of vegetable oil or cream to areas where allergic reactions are observed. Immediately discontinue use of all essential oils for a few days.
  • Use only a very small amount of the essential oil (one to two drops will be enough) and should be diluted into a carrier oil before using.
  • Always read labels carefully to ensure that the oil is appropriate for a specific purpose and that the proper way of preparing for use is followed thoroughly.
  • Use 100 percent pure oils. Using less low-quality essential oils increases the likelihood of an adverse response.
  • Always consult a doctor on the proper use of any essential oil if you are taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Those taking heart medications, like blood thinners, should avoid using these essential oils: clary sage, cypress, eucalyptus, ginger, rosemary, sage and thyme oils.

Wondering how these essential oils can help ease your pregnancy? Here are a few ways you can also use essential oils.

  • For stretch marks. Mix 2-3 drops of lavender or rose oil with your favorite carrier oil (coconut or almond oil will be great options). Apply to the affected area once or twice a day.
  • For nausea caused by “morning” sickness. Diffuse sweet orange or mandarin oil or inhale directly from the bottle.
  • For discomfort associated with that growing baby bump. Mix a few drops of lavender oil with a carrier oil and massage all over your abdomen.
  • For relief from swollen ankles and feet. Place diffused 3 to 5 drops of lavender or geranium oil into a roller ball and massage into the swollen area several times a day.

Conclusion

There are many other ways that you can use essential oils. With proper preparation and the correct application, you can enjoy every application of any of the essential oils mentioned.

Choosing the Best Beauty Products For Pregnancy

A baby in your tummy means a huge change in your life.

You have to go about each day thinking about how the things that you will be doing will affect your baby’s development and health. It’s not easy being a mom-to-be. There are just so many that may not be beneficial for you as well as your baby. But how are you going to choose the best beauty products for pregnancy? How will you determine, for instance, which is the best face cream for pregnancy, or what is the best hair products to use, or perhaps the ingredients that you need to take note when deciding which will best benefit you and your baby during pregnancy?

There are just so many products available in the market today that it makes it quite difficult to identify which one will just be the best. Many offer a lot of benefits, but can they really measure up to the quality that you need to provide for your baby? Every possible marketing tactic will be used to lure customers to buy a product or two from a brand. If you are a first-time mom, it will be even more challenging to decide on every product that you will use may have an effect on your baby’s development. Hormonal imbalance that is ever-present and pressing during pregnancy will also instinctively trigger you to find the best beauty products for the best results that you want.

Your Skin and Hormonal Changes During Pregnancy

Dermatologist Ellen Mamur, MD explains how hormonal fluctuations affect the skin of a pregnant woman.

“For the first twelve weeks, the growth hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) surges to prepare the placenta and increase the blood volume in the body. (This can create a flushed, healthy complexion as the blood flow becomes more robust.) In the second trimester, progesterone is on the upswing, which can generate acne. Another possible, and common, consequence of increased progesterone and estrogen is melasma, a brown discoloration above the upper lip and on the cheeks and forehead, which is why it’s known as “the mask of pregnancy.”

Hormonal changes during pregnancy have an overall impact on the skin. As noted from Dr. Mamur’s explanation, the hormones in the female body go into hyperdrive while pregnant making it quite difficult to treat the skin during this period. You just can’t use the products that you use during pre-pregnancy to manage any skin problems that surface as a result of the hormonal imbalance. Doing so may just put your baby’s development and health at risk.

So, how do you determine which are products will best suit your condition?

There are so many products available on the market today that promises to give radiantly beautiful skin. But will they pass the safety test? Remember that your condition makes you all the more sensitive to everything that touches your skin. When choosing the best beauty products during pregnancy, check whether the product that you intend to buy contains any of these toxic ingredients. If they do, be ready to say NO.

  1. Topical retinoids. Products that may have these substances may include just about any cream or serum you have in your collection. Look for anything that says retinol or retin in every product label. If the product label says that it contains a synthetic vitamin A, better stop using the product. Topical retinoids, which is also known as over-the-counter retinol is definitely to be avoided during pregnancy. Although studies indicate that the amount of retinoids absorbed more than skin deep is very low, there are some reports that have found an association between birth defects and the use of topical retinoid (especially prescription-strength tretinoin). The connection may be controversial, but there won’t be anything wrong if you just avoid it to be safe.
  2. Hydroquinone. This substance is commonly added to hair straightening products or as a component of skin-lightening agents. Although there are no strong studies to show a predictable adverse effect on pregnancy with the use of products containing hydroquinone, the high absorption rate (indicated in studies to be about 35-45 percent) urges specialists to recommend NOT to use products with this substance when pregnant.
  3. Benzoyl peroxide. Acne build up is also one of the common skin problems that affect pregnant women. The common treatment used to treat this skin issue contain benzoyl peroxide which, should also be avoided during pregnancy. Instead of looking for synthetic drugs to cure acne, why not turn to natural treatment alternatives like the tea tree oil. When in doubt, always consult a doctor for the proper drug recommendation.
  4. Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen or a cancer-causing agent. Studies have also indicated that using products with this compound could cause infertility or miscarriage. It is a common ingredient found in many nail polishes. So, if you feel like having your nails done, opts for brands that offer colors that do not contain toxic chemicals like OPI, Essie, Kiara Sky, and SNS. These brands offer nail polish that does not contain Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, Camphor, along with other toxic ingredients.
  5. Beauty Enhancers. Botox, Restylane and a number of other beauty enhancers that come in needle form have been a favored beauty management alternatives for many women. Though they are considered generally safe, you may still have to say NO to injectables if you are pregnant. Wait to schedule your next appointment when you are no longer nursing.

Your condition may require you to use beauty products like facial cream, moisturizers, sunblock, and so on. When looking for the best alternatives, consider brands that creates products formulated with healthy and natural ingredients. Following instructions indicated in product labels is also a must. As always, if you have a health condition that may be aggravated if you use a specific beauty product, talk to your doctor. He/she might have a product alternative for you instead.

Best Shoes For Pregnancy

Pregnancy may bring a lot of excitement not only to you but to everyone close to you. Everyone would like to have their share of the joy and may offer unsolicited advice on how you should take of yourself and your baby. They may also recommend items that you should have, even things that you can wear to make your pregnancy a lot better.

During pregnancy, you experience a lot of changes. That includes the unexpected pain caused by the growing baby inside your belly. The skin and your body expand to accommodate the developing fetus. As a result, you may feel pain in certain parts of your body, like at the lower back, on your hips, in your joints, on your thighs, and even on your feet.

As you decide which pieces of garments in your wardrobe need to go or be kept for some time, you will also need to find a replacement for your footwear.

Edema and Pregnancy

Having swollen ankles are normal during pregnancy, but they can really be frustrating. The swelling (or “edema”) in the ankles and feet appear as a result of the extra fluid in the body as well as the pressure from the growing uterus. The swelling has a tendency to get worse as pregnancy progresses, especially near the end of the day and also during hotter weather.

You can do so much to alleviate the pain. You can avoid standing longer than necessary. Propping up your feet when sitting and stretching your legs often will also allow your feet to relax and make the blood to circulate better on your legs and thighs. Drinking plenty of water will also allow your body not only to release the toxins but also lessen the possibility of having more fluids retained on your legs.

Even after constantly doing all these, you would still need something to cover those feet. As you will feel heavier as your pregnancy progresses, you will need something comfortable to have on your feet while you are walking about or doing your daily routines. As such, it is essential that you find the best shoes for pregnancy.

Finding the best shoes for pregnancy

Changing your heels for low, well-built heels, or flats can actually help ease the aches that you nay experience with your pregnancy. Just like looking for the appropriate maternity clothes, it is essential that you invest in a few pairs of maternity friendly shoes.

They do not have to be too expensive. However, they need to be of good quality and provide the right fit for your soles, so you will feel comfortable wearing them wherever you are.

If you are prone to have swollen ankles and feet, it is best that you find a pair or two that are either a size or two larger than your regular shoes. This will give more room for your feet if ever they get swollen or are painful.

Don’t be in a rush to find the best fitting shoes for your soles. Try to get the pair in and off your feet and walk with them on your feet. This will allow you to really see if they really fit your feet.

You also do not need to settle for something that is less than what could make you feel happy. Opt for a pair that will enhance the look of your feet. It does not mean that since you are pregnant  you will have to let go of your fancy for all things beautiful. Just as you choose your clothes, you also need to find a pair of shoes that will make you look best in them. Don’t settle for something that may provide you with great support, but will make your feet look drab.

There are also maternity shoes that are made with straps for added support. If you think you will feel comfortable wearing them, by all means, get a pair for yourself. It is also best to buy shoes during the latter part of the day or in the evening when the feet have already expanded or have been carrying much of your weight throughout the day. It is best that you pick a slip on and avoid heeled shoes as they may just make the pain worse.

Shoes that you can find online and in the mall are usually available in various colors, materials, and texture. Opt for shoes that not only provide good support for your feet, will look good on you, but they must also be made to last your pregnancy. Play with the colors available. Opt for those that you can wear with several of your pregnancy outfits. That way, you won’t have to buy on several pairs since you can just have a pair or two to match with many of your maternity clothes.

Shoes For Every Pregnant Mother’s Need

If you need to stay long at work, it will be best to buy flats for your feet. Loafers, moccasins, and ballerinas will be your perfect aid during this time. If you need to wear some heels for an important event or meeting, make sure that it will be low enough to be comfortable for those swollen feet. It will also be smart to bring a pair of flats that you can wear once the event or you are done with work.

For a pregnancy that touches the summer season, you can find a good-fitting pair of sandals or canvass shoes that you can match with a summer maxi dress.

In case you become pregnant during the colder months, it is best that you find a good pair of shoes or boots that can keep your feet warm throughout the day. It would also help if you will put on a good pair of socks.

Your feet take on a lot of challenges like all the rest of your body during pregnancy. You need to make sure that they are taken care of properly. Finding the best shoes for your feet may also make the swelling and much of the pain a lot easier to bear. You need to make sure then that you find the best that will make your feet feel comfortable throughout your pregnancy.

Stretch Marks: What Are They and How to Get Rid of Them

Also known as striae, stretch marks are a form of scarring with an off-color hue that may or may not disappear over time. They may appear as stripes or narrow streaks on your skin and caused by a sudden stretch. They’re perfectly common and aren’t a serious cause for concern. Many women also suggest that using the best belly cream for pregnancy can help prevent them.

Anyone can have stretch marks. However, they tend to appear more on women than in men.

They may also be found on different parts of the body. Commonly affected areas include the hips, thighs, upper arms, breasts, lower back, and stomach.

Stretch marks occur when the skin has been stretch out too much that it can’t resume it’s normal form. This is often due to pregnancy, weight loss, rapid weight gain, or puberty. More than half of women get stretch marks during pregnancy.

Quick Facts on Stretch Marks

  • They form when skin is stretched too rapidly.
  • Pregnancy, weight gain or weight loss, and puberty can cause stretch marks.
  • There is currently no strong evidence showing the effectiveness of stretch mark treatments today.
  • They often disappear over time even without treatment.
  • They don’t pose any serious long-term health risks.

What Are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks can also be known as striae, striae distensae, striae gravidarum, or striae atrophicans. They’re a form of scarring or disfiguring lesions.

The areas that are commonly affected by stretch marks:

  • Buttocks
  • Thighs
  • Hips
  • Abdomen
  • Breasts
  • Flank

Although not a physical threat, stretch marks can still cause problems with an individual’s self-image. For some, it can be a very problematic cosmetic issue that can affect daily living by causing anxiety and low self-esteem.

Common Signs and Symptoms

Before stretch marks appear, the skin may feel dry and itchy. You’ll then notice thin and pinkish lines emerging.

The marks will then appear wrinkly. The streaks may also show more obvious hues, such as purple, red, reddish-brown, or dark brown. The color of your stretch mark will largely depend on your own skin tone. After a while, the stretch marks may reduce visibility and flatten out. What’s left will be a pale or silvery scar that may or may not disappear completely. Some stretch marks can take years before they become less noticeable.

Common Causes and Risk Factors

Abrupt skin expansion or shrinkage is the most common cause for stretch marks. Other causes may also include:

  1. Pregnancy – 50-90% of pregnant women will have stretchmarks during or after the birth of their baby.
  2. Puberty – Because puberty can also cause rapid growth in girls and boys, you may also experience some skin stretching, which in turn leads to stretch marks.
  3. Rapid weight gain – If you gain weight in a short amount of time, your skin may have trouble adjusting to the fat that accumulates in your body. This expansion may stretch out your skin faster than it can handle, which also leads to stretch marks.
  4. Medical conditions – Cushing’s syndrome or Marfan syndrome may also cause stretch marks. This is because Marfan syndrome can reduce your skin’s natural elasticity, while Cushing’s syndrome causes you to gain weight rapidly due to an overproduction of a certain hormone.
  5. Using corticosteroids – The prolonged use of corticosteroid creams or lotions can decrease the elasticity of your skin. This is because it reduces the levels of collagen, which is responsible for strengthening and supporting your skin. More collagen means you’re less likely to get stretch marks on your body.

When stretch marks do appear, their appearance will start to change after some time. They either fade to white or something silvery. They’re also more likely to develop or get worse when your body contains a high level of cortisone, or if you use a cortisone-based cream. Your body naturally produces cortisone too because it converts the stress hormone, cortisol, which is produced by your adrenal glands.

Risk Factors

Evidence shows that the following factors may contribute to an individual’s likelihood of developing stretch marks:

  • Age
  • Chronic diseases
  • Family history
  • BMI (body mass index) before a woman’s pregnancy
  • Baby’s weight upon birth

Obese women, for example, may carry larger babies. Also, your age plays a crucial part in determining the amount of collagen in your skin.

Diagnosis

Stretch marks can be easily diagnosed through a skin examination. The doctor will likely ask for your medical history and ask questions based on the signs and symptoms you experience. You’ll also be asked to share any existing medical conditions or medications you’ve used in the past or now.

In some rare cases, stretch marks may be a symptom of an underlying medical problem that requires immediate treatment or monitoring. But in general, they are not usually viewed as a threat and don’t lead to problems aside from possible aesthetic ones.

Treatment and Prevention

The treatment for stretch marks can be expensive and not always effective. The results vary from person to person.

Unless the cause of the scarring is an underlying condition, your insurer isn’t likely going to cover the expenses of the treatment. Because, more often than not, stretch marks are more of a cosmetic issue than a health one.

Creams, oils, and topical applications

Scientific data doesn’t show relevant evidence that applying any type of cream, oil, or lotion can help with preventing stretch marks. Although many mothers swear that using the best belly cream for pregnancy can do wonders to prevent or even heal stretch marks.

Prevention

The best way to prevent stretch marks from appearing on your body is by doing the following:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid rapid weight loss or gain, like from yo-yo dieting
  • Eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals.
  • Increase your intake of vitamins A and C to support skin health, as well as zinc and silicon
  • Control your weight gain during pregnancy
  • Drink plenty of water every day to avoid skin dehydration

Key Takeaways

Stretch marks generally pose no health risks to the individual. They do affect a person’s physical appearance, but they’re manageable and can usually be prevented depending on your self-care routine, diet, and family history. If you’d like to prevent stretch marks, consider getting the best belly cream for pregnancy and check the reviews from moms-to-be who have tried it themselves.

The Kindness of Remunerated Strangers

In March I was invited to a Summit, not as the word might imply on Middle-East peace but on the adoption of children, and more specifically the adoption of children in care. It was held at the Coram Museum on the site of the now demolished Foundling Hospital that sheltered children abandoned by their single mothers for nigh on 200 years. I was surprised to be invited, I am very out of touch with this world.

But I came away disappointed. I could see the last vestiges of Labour ‘deliverology’  in which the centre beats the local into doing better, which in this case means adopting more children into care. I worried about the certainty around language like ‘permanency’ that at best is easily misunderstood and at worst lacks any coherent meaning. And I was left craving not only evidence worthy of the massive intrusion into family life that adoption represents, but also some basic facts that help predict the potential of the intervention.

Since the Summit I have been ruminating, talking to experts and reading. This and the four blogs that follow summarise what I found.

The Kindness of Remunerated Strangers

1) From antiquity to the renaissance

In the not too distant past a child was passed through the torno (a hole in the wall) of a Spanish orphanage run by the order of Saint Vincent de Paul. Unlike many given up in this way, this child survived. We know this because his name, assigned to every child taken in by the order, was passed to his great grandchild, my friend, Kintxo Ochotorena y de Paúl (an accent placed above the ‘u’ of Paul gives Spanish identity to the French saint). Since antiquity, abandoned children were referred to as being ‘exposed’ in the sense that the family brought attention to the deserted child so they would be taken up by a family or institution. From this descriptor comes another Spanish name, Expósito, as inherited by Numancia defender Unai Expósito and the Baltimore Orioles catcher Luis Expósito.

With this in mind, when I left the Coram Summit I walked across the road to the Skoob bookstore and with luck found a second hand version of John Boswell’s classic history The Kindness of Strangers. I looked for a paragraph that I remembered from my training. It connects our parochial discussions about adoption to two millennia of tragedy:

“Parents abandoned their offspring in desperation when they were unable to support them, due to poverty or disaster; in shame, when they were unwilling to keep them because of their physical condition or ancestry (e.g. illegitimate or incestuous); in self-interest or the interest of another child, when inheritance or domestic resources would be compromised by another mouth; in hope, when they believed that someone of greater means or higher standing might find them and bring them up in better circumstance; in resignation, when a child was of unwelcome gender or ominous auspices; or in callousness, if they simply could not be bothered with childhood.”

The production line of abandonment has remained constant but the processing has evolved. Some of society’s responses, for example of oblation -adopting children into christianity- or servitude and indenture are now rare. Survival is now taken for granted. Most children entering foundling hospitals in the Middle-ages died within a few years of admission, an outcome possibly only marginally worse than had they been reared at home.

State regulation of the transaction has evolved slowly. There were never many sanctions against sharing children beyond the birth family. It was a necessity and commonplace. Between 10 and 30 per cent of children were in some way adopted by a stranger’s family, in all likelihood during antiquity and almost certainly in late 18th Century urban Europe. Societal ethics of tolerance or mild regulation were gradually codified by the church. As private, philanthropic provision became more common, the state became the ringmaster.

Fostering is a relatively modern addition to the story. The name comes from the Norse foū, meaning to feed or to support. It was codified by the Visigoths in present day Germany referring to children supported in a household who had no legal relation to the householder. The code set fees for the first three years of placement, after which the child would pay for him or herself from wages or would move on into servitude. I suppose today we would classify the idea under payment by results.

Remuneration, however, has not been the reserve of fostering. All forms of exposure of children involve some form of legal and/or financial transaction. I suspect the real kindness of strangers continues below the gaze of church or state in the informal non-exposed arrangements of families who seek neither legal protection nor compensation.

A major development has been the switch from all children to poor children. From antiquity to the Renaissance any child, whatever the means of the family, could be exposed, subject to oblation or even passed into servitude.  Birth produced a ball bouncing long on a roulette wheel before it found a resting point in one of many pockets whose  value was measured in terms of social mobility.  We remember the wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus, grandchildren of the King of Alba Longa, but not so much the farming family that took them in. (Indeed the myth allows us to ignore the working class prostitute who most likely provided the breast from which the children fed). In an early Viking saga referred to by Boswell a German Earl leaves the child he fathered with his sister in a forest to be watched over by servants. The child is fostered -not adopted- by a childless Danish noble and eventually becomes the King of Denmark, a rare example of a state being founded on the three pillars of incest, abandonment and high quality foster care.

Risks to a healthy upbringing still distribute themselves across the classes but today when we talk about adoption we increasingly talk about the rescue of poor children by the well-off.

2) Recent scratches on the surface of history

From the mid-18th Century onwards, the state’s support for the abandoned poor increasingly took the form of foster care. Where the church retained a strong hold, residential provision remained popular. State care extended beyond children given up forever to those whose parents temporarily could not manage. When the rates of child abuse became apparent in the mid 1960s, an increasing proportion of those in the care of the state were rescued from parents deemed to be dangerous.

So it came to pass that one pocket on the roulette wheel accommodated three different coloured balls; children given up forever, those given up for a short time and those taken away from reluctant parents. This unsatisfactory mixing, to my mind, explains not only many of the ills of state care but also the folly of those who seek a single solution to those ills. The fact that the pocket is reserved for poor children does nothing to help.

About half a century ago, a common complaint was being made about state care. The grumble originated in the United States, where numbers in care were high and return on investment unclear. The complaint was drift. Children were bobbing around the system with no clear sense of their destiny. Too many were moving frequently from one foster family to another (although probably no more frequently than is the case today). Jane Rowe and Lydia Lambert in their seminal study Children who Wait highlighted the same difficulties in England.

A demonstration project was established in true U.S. style in Oregon in the 1970s. It sensibly introduced a problem solving process for practitioners so that they could gather and use information with greater precision. The work also tried to limit the number of cases a social worker held, so they had sufficient time to think and act effectively. The idea was to get them to make better decisions, quicker.

So far, so good. There was a problem, drift, the failure to decide, and there was a solution to address that problem. But the Oregon work went further. One mechanism for reducing the caseload was lowering the number of children in care, and that was to be achieved by finding adoptive parents. This transfer of responsibility had several perceived beneficial side effects not least, to use the language of the time, that it provided the child with a respected social status in contrast to the second-class status typical of foster care.

From these origins came the concept of ‘permanency’. Soon the problem solving/reduced caseload part of the solution began to take a lower billing. At the top of the display was ‘a family for life’, which could be the birth family, other family members or friends of the family, strangers remunerated by the state, that is foster parents, or strangers who assumed full legal responsibility, that is adoptive parents.

Legislation was passed in England and Wales in 1975 that allowed for children to be adopted from care. Law was further developed in 2002 to increase the numbers on this track, and also to introduce a new category of stranger care called ‘special guardianship’ that formalised the rights of family members or friends who care for a child that is not their own. (By creating special arrangements for poor children, these developments muddied the settled waters of the Children Act 1989 that provided a single set of orders for all, crossing both private and public law).

From these uncertain beginnings the concept of ‘permanence’ has become fixed. I find it both illogical, and wholly lacking in evidence. Answers to four questions might help to change my mind.

First, what does ‘permanence’ mean? I was born into an orthodox working class family with two parents. When I was three, aspiration took my family to a new town. When I was seven, that aspiration produced another move. At nine, the pressure of upward mobility contributed to my mother’s hospitalisation for mental illness and I was shipped off for some months to strangers in a completely new City. By twelve, a clash of aspirations led my parents to divorce and I returned to live 500 metres from where I started. My still striving father emigrated to Australia, followed soon after my 17th birthday by my mother. Five years later they remarried each other, the only part of the story that bothers me still.

Is this permanence? Is the experience of Kintxo’s father, placed in an orphanage for the first 14 years of life more or less permanent?

Second, what problem is ‘permanence’ trying to solve? It certainly isn’t the drift in decision making that set the United States and England to adopting children in care. It certainly isn’t the impermanence of foster care itself, still, as I will show, the primary source of support for children long separated from birth parents, even if, and it remains an if, it is the most likely of the available options to founder.

When I trace the logic in the permanence formulation I find: a system problem (of slow decision making) being solved by a perceived yet unproven theory about how to improve children’s health and development (get kids let down by one family into a better family). That might be a good foundation for progress with other people’s children but I wouldn’t accept it for my own.

The remaining two questions I will try to answer in subsequent blogs, namely, if permanence could be clearly defined would we predict it to produce better outcomes? And, if it is advantageous, is it feasible, can it be delivered for many thousands of separated children?

Stable, committed, and loving

In this second blog I continue to reflect on the Summit held to discuss the adoption of children in care at the Coram Museum in March 2013.  I reflect on Michael Rutter’s summary research on a healthy home environment and continue to ruminate on the value of the concept of ‘permanency.’

Stable, committed and loving

1) Four Dimensions of a Healthy Home Life

A focal point of the Summit was a summary of research about family environments that promote healthy child development. It was provided by Michael Rutter. He said there were four priorities, and in the classic style of the Great Man, he proceeded to number them, firstly, secondly, and so on.

Priority one is to avoid physical and sexual abuse. This is not about physical punishment. It too should be avoided but, as Sara Jaffee’s research shows, it is the effects of maltreatment that matter.

Priority Two is the provision of stable, committed, loving relationships. This is not the same as permanency -indeed in the right circumstances stable, committed, loving relationships encourage the child’s independence of thought and action and, in one sense of the word, a deal of impermanency. Nor do stable, committed and loving add up to ‘bonding’, another less than helpful concept. As the Great Man said, a strong relationship is not always a good relationship. Cassidy and Shaver’s chapter in theHandbook of Attachment provides the best source of evidence on these matters.

Stable, committed, loving relationships show up in measures of attachment -the extent to which the child displays a degree of security that is appropriate for it’s development- and sensitive parenting -the degree to which the mother is able to read and respond to what the child needs. But the accuracy with which these measures predict a good upbringing for the child remains limited.

Rutter dropped into this part of his pronouncement one of those pesky, annoying, evidence based, common-sense facts of life: that children can cope with multiple, loving, committed relationships, maybe as many as four or five.

His third priority is the provision of individually varying authoritative parenting. He felt the need to say it so I will follow his lead and stress that authoritative does not mean authoritarian. Children like structure, order and boundaries to push against. There is no single optimal way of achieving this, so forget about that good parenting template. Slightly troubling to me was the observation that what parents do matters as much to children as what we say. And our kids learn not just from us, but from their friends, their friends’ families and from other people they respect.

The final component of a healthy home environment are multiple learning opportunities. As Rutter stressed, this does not mean our current obsession with the three ‘Rs’ but with helping the child to think clearly, and to be eager and open to learning more, and more again, throughout life.

Actually, Rutter had a ‘fifthly’. He usually does. But it didn’t have much to do with the subject. It was a cry of despair from a man, from a group of people around the world, who have spent their lives meticulously, agnostically, studying these matters only to be overlooked by policy makers who see the world in terms of their own experience or doctrine.

Rutter said that social policy should be shaped by research not by ideological concerns. But from the moment he sat down he was lauded and ignored in equal measure. Social policy shaped by research? Come on Mike, be sensible.

2) Application of this evidence

Any summary of research will be challenged, and no doubt there will be some disagreement about Rutter’s four priorities, or some difference in emphasis. At the Summit, for example, Danya Glaser put as much stress on neglect as abuse, whereas Rutter concludes that the evidence on the former is weaker than the latter. These are important quibbles but for now let’s take the four priorities as given. How might we act on this evidence?

In the previous entry I asked the question ‘is there any evidence that permanence -in the sense of staying long in a single family unit- would produce better outcomes for children? I am going to conclude on the basis of what Rutter said, and the mountain of research that underpins his summary, that, in itself, it would not.

What matters is a minimum of maltreatment plus sensitive, authoritative parenting that generates an eager to learn child.

This evidence might be used as a guide for social workers trying to decide if the long term risks to a child’s health and development warrant removal from birth parents for a short, long or indefinite period. But, as Rutter pointed out, even damaging parental behaviour can be improved so any consideration of separation demands an exploration of the parent’s capacity to change.

Thinking about the family environment most conducive to healthy child development also helps, as Danya Glaser suggested, to select, where it is needed, an alternative place for the child to live. Foster parents, short or long-term, adoptive parents and special guardians should never abuse and they should offer their own style of sensitive, authoritative parenting, and their own ways of stimulating an appetite for learning. Of course, substitute parents of all types also have the capacity to change, for good and for ill.

It is sobering to reflect that any assessment of that capacity is made in the context of a hypothetical child who may be placed and not, as with the scrutiny of errant parents, observation of what is currently happening.

I was thinking about all this during the contributions that followed Rutter and Glaser. My mind wandered and I found myself staring hard at a painting by Charles Brooking of a series of boats at sea (A Flagship before the Wind under Easy Sail, with a Cutter, a Ketch and Other Vessels, 1754). I got to thinking that the focus on adoption was like a focus on the mast of one of the ships in the painting, a small, possibly fundamental, but nonetheless minuscule part of the vista.

We know that about five per cent of children are exposed to severe violence in the home, either watching what their parents do to each other or by their parents beating them. Few of these children will go anywhere near a social worker never mind come into public care or get adopted.

Our collective objective is better health and development for children. One mechanism for achieving that is to promote a family environment most likely to deliver those outcomes. One set of interventions focus on that mechanism and provide support for children living at home with their birth families. Another concentrates on providing short separations away from home, almost exclusively for poor families. Another, also reserved for the impoverished, provides a long term supplement or alternative to the family home in foster homes, adoptive families or with special guardians.

As good as we can make it, this last option will only ever be a tiny part of the effort to improve the well-being of our nation’s children.