Most of the skin we see on our bodies is actually dead skin! Our fingers and toes have especially thick layers of this dead skin (also called keratin.) When we get in the bathtub or pool, those dead skin cells absorb water. Just like a dry sponge absorbing water, the skin grows slightly in size and it begins to wrinkle. The longer you stay in the water, the more wrinkled your toes and fingers get! By the way, warm water usually wrinkles skin faster than cold water.
Initially, scientists thought it was down to osmosis, with water passing into the dry outer layer of skin. The influx of water, they thought, expanded the skin’s surface area, but not the tissue below it, creating a puckered effect. Some studies show that people that have neurological problems with their fingers or toes do not wrinkle up as much. A pair of doctors noticed this didn’t happen in patients with nerve damage. They concluded that the wrinkling was actually a response of the nervous system to prolonged moisture.
Laboratory tests confirmed a theory that wrinkly fingers improve our grip on wet or submerged objects, working to channel away from the water like the rain treads in car tires and that this could be something that our autonomic nervous system does. The autonomic nervous system is all of the things that are being done in your body that you don’t have to tell it to do. These are all things that your body can do on its own. And so the autonomic nervous system might just since you’re in a slippery environment, it would be better for you to have better tread and may cause the skin to wrinkle just of its own.
Read more: Why doing Ph.D. is Mental Stress for Some?
Article By: Dr. Himani