why do your fingers wrinkle in the bath
Have you ever stayed in a or bathtub so long that your fingers got wrinkly? This is normal and can even affect your toes. But why does it happen? Even though you can't see it, your
is covered with its own special oil called sebum (say: SEE-bum). Sebum is found on the outermost layer of skin. Sebum moistens, or lubricates (say: LOO-bruh-kates), and protects your skin. It also makes your skin a bit waterproof. That's why water runs off your skin when you wash your hands, instead of soaking it in like a sponge would. But staying in water for a long time washes away the sebum. Then, the water can penetrate the outer layer of your skin. This causes your skin to become waterlogged. So how does this lead to wrinkles? For a long time, people thought the water caused skin to swell up and get puffy.
Now researchers believe wrinkly fingers could be an autonomic nervous system reaction. Why? Because it's easier to pick up wet objects with wrinkly fingers. Wrinkles on your fingers may give you more grip, kind of like treads on a car tire. What should you do if this happens to you? Nothing. It goes away quickly on its own. You'll have more sebum on your skin in no time. One side effect of relaxing for too long in the bath is that your fingers start to look more raisin-like minute by minute. When the skin on your fingers wrinkles up, there arenБt any actual adverse effects, they just look a bit weird. So, why does the body make this minimal and seemingly pointless reaction happen?
The previous theory was that the wrinkling would occur as the water would enter the top layer of skin and make the fingertips swell up. However, in 2011, evolutionary neurobiologist Mark Changizi at 2AI Labs in Idaho, found that this process didnБt happen if the patient had nerve damage, meaning it was actually an active process of the body. They concluded that there was a good chance it was an evolutionary change, where humans had adapted to give ourselves more grip. They tested peoplesБ grip on dry and wet marbles, working out that the wrinkles had little effect on dry objects, but gave people a lot more hold on wet ones. Tom Smulders, an evolutionary biologist at Newcastle University, compares this to treads on tires and says itБs likely it was to help our ancestors gather food in wet conditions.
You might not have checked, but this also happens with toes, and the theory on that is that it developed to give us better footing in the rain prior to the invention of shoes. More: The scientists behind this are now looking into why we donБt just have constantly wrinkled fingers if it doesnБt change the way we grip dry objects. Changizi says itБs likely so that we can keep the sensitivity in our fingertips and avoid damage in more rigorous activities like catching. After that theyБll be looking at which other animals have similar traits, as at the moment itБs only been confirmed as us and macaques. MORE: MORE:
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