Anyone who’s taken a bath or has gone swimming has noticed something peculiar when fingers and toes have been soaking for too long–they start to get really wrinkly. It may leave you wondering what the heck is up–after all, many women want to stop that wrinkling effect these days, right? Don’t worry, the effect of wrinkled skin in water is perfectly harmless, and the answer to why it happens is quite simple.
How Long it Takes
The amount of time it takes for the skin to wrinkle in water varies from person to person. In general, if you spend longer than 10 minutes in the water, your skin is likely to start wrinkling.
Why It Happens
The outside layer of your skin, or the epidermis, contains a coating of sebum, an oily substance that keeps water out of your skin. The epidermis also contains several dead layers of skin. When you’re in water for a while, the layer of sebum washes away and your skin begins to take in the water. This absorption causes the skin to swell. Fortunately, the outside layers of your skin are attached to the inner layers, so your hand doesn’t blow up completely. The “mountains” of the wrinkles are the swelling areas, while the “valleys” of the wrinkles are where the skin attaches to the deeper layers of skin.
Why It Doesn’t Happen Everywhere
Undoubtedly, you’ve noticed that while your fingers and toes are likely to get wrinkled, you don’t notice the same thing happening to the skin on your face, stomach, arms or legs. This is due to the type of skin on these areas. Because you are constantly using your hands and feet, these areas contain more of the dead skin cells that can absorb the water. Because your stomach and other areas don’t contain as much dead skin, you won’t find them wrinkling.
How Big They Can Get
How big the wrinkles are directly relates to how long you stay in the water and how thick the layer of dead skin is. You’ll notice larger wrinkles at the tips of your fingers, for example. That’s because you use that area of your hand the most so it has more dead skin. The longer you soak in the water, the more prominent your wrinkles will become.
Keeping Them at Bay
There is nothing harmful about wrinkles from taking a bath and they will typically go away soon after you get out of the water. If you’re concerned about them, however, consider taking a shower rather than a bath, which prevents your hands and feet from constantly soaking in the water. You can also take shorter baths, getting out when you notice your fingers starting to wrinkle.
- feet in the bath image by Ivonne Wierink from Fotolia.com