Do you remember the time you enjoyed a soak in a hot tub or the relaxation of a long bath, only to find your skin pruned and wrinkled once you got out? Maybe you have experienced an exhaustion after a day of splashing around at the pool party or playing at the beach.
While such side effects are natural and virtually harmless to all human beings, you might be amazed to learn all science behind this “pruney” issue.
We may be hundreds of thousands of years into evolution, but science has ultimately revealed why toes and fingers look like raisins after having a long shower -and why it is actually important.
If you have ever spent much time in a pool, or if you like to relax after a long day with an hours-long soak in the tub, you are familiar with the phenomenon of “pruney fingers.” Believe it or not, many scientists have been researching about this raisin-like effect for several years, attempting to understand why your hands (and sometimes your feet) get very wrinkly when wet.
Scientists believe that they have got the answer to the reason why the skin on human toes and fingers shrivels up like an old prune when they soak in a bath. Laboratory tests reveal that a theory that wrinkly fingers enhance our grip on submerged or wet objects, working towards channeling away any water similar to the rain treads in the tires of vehicles.
People usually assume that wrinkling results from the water passing through the external layer of the skin and making it swell up. However, scientists have found out since the 1930s that the effect doesn’t take place when there’s damage to the nerve in the fingers.
A study carried out by Newcastle University in the United Kingdom revealed that wrinkly fingers are meant to assist people to hold wet objects, and this is a crucial thing our ancestors may have done during wet conditions, according to LiveScience.com.
Wrinkled fingers could’ve also aided our ancestors to collect food from streams or wet vegetation. The same impact on the feet could assist us to achieve a better footing in the rain. Without further ado, let’s explore some interesting facts about pruning skin:
1. For a study conducted by Newcastle University, twenty participants were asked to pick up small weights and wet marbles of various sizes. Volunteers were instructed to carry out the very task with the normal, dry and also wet fingers. Individuals with pruney fingers were able to pick up items in 12% less time compared to those with the unwrinkled fingers.
2. Since wrinkles confer a key advantage with the wet objects but apparently no disadvantage with dry ones, it isn’t clear why our fingers aren’t permanently wrinkled. But researchers have some ideas that this could reduce the sensitivity in our fingertips or could raise the damage risk through holding various objects.
3. Unusually enough, wrinkles often do not appear until you have been submerged in the water for more than 5 minutes. Therefore, it means that an intermittent contact with water is not sufficient to trigger this distinctive response. Additionally, it takes quite less time to wrinkle in freshwater than in seawater.
4. It is an involuntary reaction to the wet conditions by the body’s autonomic nervous system. It’s the same system which controls things such as our perspiration, heart rate, and breathing. In reality, constriction of blood vessels underneath the skin causes the distinctive wrinkling. Those are some of the things we do not need to think consciously about to do.
5. You should not worry about wrinkled toes and fingers since they’re just painless, temporary situations. If you do not like feeling pruney, you can wear rubber gloves when cleaning your fish aquarium or washing dishes, but that you shouldn’t mean you can avoid or skip a shower!