Why Do Fingers Get Wrinkly After A Long Bath Or Swim? Here’s the Answer.

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Have you ever stayed in a bathtub or swimming pool for a long time? If you have, you’ve probably already seen your fingers and toes turn wrinkly like a prune.

It’s quite a baffling transformation, right? You know it’s because you spent too long in the water. But why does it happen? 

Have you ever wondered about this too? If you are, don’t worry!

I’ll share the science behind why our fingers and toes get wrinkly after a long bath or swim.

For a long time, people often thought prune fingers form because the skin absorbs water, causing it to swell up and get puffy. But that’s not the case.

To understand why it happens, we should first know about the autonomic nervous system. 

The autonomic nervous system is the part of our nervous system responsible for controlling involuntary bodily functions. This includes breathing, blinking, heartbeat, blood pressure, respiration, and digestion.

It also automatically controls the contraction and expansion of our blood vessels. Factors often affecting how our blood vessels expand or contract include temperature, medications, exercise, or what we eat or drink.

After being in the water for a while, the sweat ducts in the skin open up. It lets water into the skin tissue, which decreases the amount of salt in the skin. 

When this happens, it sends a message to the brain through nerve fibers that the salt levels have decreased. Then, it causes the autonomic nervous system to constrict the blood vessels. This contraction of blood vessels also leads to wrinkles in the skin after a long swim.

As blood vessels narrow,  the skin loses volume and becomes puckered, resulting in distinct wrinkle patterns. This resembles how a grape turns into a raisin when it loses more volume than surface area.

In addition to wrinkles, the skin also becomes paler due to the constriction of blood vessels. However, if there is nerve damage, the constriction of blood vessels does not occur. As a result, wrinkles do not form even after prolonged exposure to water.

It’s believed that pruney skin helps us grip wet objects better. The wrinkles on the fingers act as tire treads on a car, increasing the amount of friction between the fingers and the object. 

Isn’t it amazing?

Another fascinating fact is that when your skin begins to wrinkle, it’s a sign that it’s time to come up and dry yourself.

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