Why Do Fingers and Toes prune underwater

You might have observed this, when you soak your fingers or toes in water for more than 30 minutes then, you see wrinkles on them. Before, people used to think the reason why fingers prune underwater was because of skin’s outer layer which swell when soaked in water, as the outer layer tightly attached to skin underneath to compensate this gap skin prunes.

But Scientists think that wrinkles/prune is caused by constriction of blood vessels below the skin. This narrowing of blood vessels is known as digital vasoconstriction. When you immerse your fingers in water nerve fibers are triggered to shrink and body temperature regulators (glomus bodies) loss volume in hand, which the pulls the skin structure downwards to produce wrinkles.

fingers prune underwater

When studies are carried out on patients with damaged nerve function in their hands, their fingers when soaked in water had shown less or no prune.

Few studies

A study carried out where participants are asked to immerse their hands in a water tub for about 30 minutes then asked to pickup marbles of different sizes (both wet and dry marbles) and it was found that fingers with wrinkles/prune were quick in picking up wet marbles compared to dry fingers. You can check out the study here.

Mark Changizi suggested that wrinkles must have an evolutionary function. And his team added that pruney fingers grip better.

Getting wrinkles is an active process, so there is nothing you can do to stop. Though it’s proven that it helps to grip better, there is no significant proof that prune has advantages.

Interested in knowing more?

Look out resources

  • http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110628/full/news.2011.388.html
  • http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/wrinkles.html
  • http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-do-our-fingers-and-toes-wrinkle-during-a-bath
  • http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/jan/09/skin-wrinkle-water-grip

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