You read it first in this week’s The Factory in Guide magazine.

Get a Grip Why do our hands and feet wrinkle in water? The wrinkle pattern in our skin works like a drainage network to improve our grip on wet surfaces.–

You read it first in this week’s The Factory in Guide magazine.

Summertime fun may include a lot of time in the pool. But have you ever wondered why our skin gets so wrinkly after having been in the water for awhile?  

As the saying goes, “Our skin helps keep our insides in”.  Our skin is one of many organs of the body. One way to keep it healthy is to stay well hydrated by drinking lots of fluids – especially water.  But if much water and fluids help us stay hydrated on the inside, then why do we get pruney on the outside if we are actually swimming in water?

The skin on the bottoms of our hands and feet is smooth and hairless. This is called glabrous skin. There are at least two proteins that help keep our skin healthy, they are elastin and collagen.  Elastin has the stretchy property that helps skin to stretch when needed and then bounce back.  Collagen helps firm up the skin to keep it taut and strong. We need both to have healthy skin.  We also have a fat layer just under our skin which also helps and works with the collagen to keep our skin looking firm and healthy.

Unfortunately, the more we age the more wrinkles and sagging skin we have. This is due in part because our elastin and collagen levels decrease as well, causing more wrinkles and sags.  All the more reason to take care of our bodies and eat a healthy diet, drink lots of water, and never smoke.  Try to avoid second-hand smoke as well.

The outermost layer of your skin actually produces its own waterproofing oil. You may notice that water mostly runs off your body, this is why. This special oil is called sebum. Sebum protects and helps your skin stay smooth and hydrated. Too much time in the water will dilute or wash off the sebum for a time until your body can make more. Once the sebum is washed off, your skin can get waterlogged and start looking like a wrinkled prune. The nervous system causes the blood vessels in these parts to shrink producing the folds in the skin.

Scientists don’t really know why our fingers and toes shrivel when they have been wet; it’s still under research.  But a theory is that our feet and hands will wrinkle so we can have a better grip on things our feet step on or our hands try to pick up.  The grip will be better with wrinkled skin than smooth skin, kind of like a car’s tire treads on wet pavement.

This reminds me of Isaiah 41:10, which tells us that God’s grip on us is sure. If we trust Him and ask Him to help us, He will never let us down. “’Fear not for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”   NKJV

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Learn More About This Fact

For more interesting facts, click on the buttons below!