It is debatable what has linked the use of astringents with the attempt to minimize the appearance of stretch marks. Perhaps no other commercially available substance has less positive effect on the appearance of stretch marks in general than an astringent. Granted, internal skin known as membranes are quite frequently affected positively by the use of astringents in that they will shrink and in some cases decrease the discharge of mucous, as in during a cold, and the secretion of other bodily fluids.
Applied topically to the skin, it will result in a drying of the affected area which in some cases may protect the skin while in other cases it will help wound sufferers. Insect bites and also athletes foot are frequently treated with mild astringents and show a quite successful response to the substance.
Yet todays cosmetics market has taken to treating stretch marks with astringents as well. It is uncertain why some manufacturers believe that drying and hardening certain skin areas will lessen the visibility of the dreaded marks; nonetheless, there are a variety of astringents currently on the market that are being used to this end:
The most commonly one available, of course, is rubbing alcohol. Used for disinfecting earring posts, surgical tools, and surface skin cuts, the smell alone is enough for most to stay away from applying rubbing alcohol to their skins. Interestingly, budding guitarists use it on their fingers to speed up the formation of calluses needed to adequately strum the instrument.
Witch hazel is another astringent that is found quite commonly in medicine cabinets across the United States. Effective as a treatment for eczema, varicose veins and even hemorrhoids, it has become touted as the new miracle cure for stretch marks, but thus far there has been no study proving this assertion.
Silver nitrate is most commonly associated with the use in hospitals to protect newborn infants from contracting blindness associated with the mothers suffering from chlamydia or gonorrhea, while in dental medicine it is also at times used to treat ulcerations of the mouth. Yet nothing in its qualities associates it in the least with the ability to have a positive effect on stretch marks whatsoever.
Alum, one of the astringents most commonly found in the cosmetics commercially available today, is found in shaving creams to assist sooth potential cuts. Several over the counter cold sore soothing chap sticks contain alum as well. Once again, while it does affect the outer most layer of the skin, it does little to show that it can affect the dermis in order to lessen the scarring effects of the tearing.
Even though claims continue to be made that hail astringents as the answer for those fed up with stretch marks, at this point in time there is little proof that prolonged exposure of the affected skin to the substance will do little more than dry out the area, deepen the ridges associated with the most severe forms of stretch marks, and furthermore may even contribute to other skin irritations.