Why do my fingers go wrinkly in the pool?

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Have you ever noticed, when you get out of the bath or the swimming pool that the skin on your fingers and toes has gone all wrinkly? My friend’s nephew has and he wants to know why!

You can’t see or feel it but your skin (all over your body) is covered in a very thin layer of special oil called ‘sebum‘ (pronounced ‘see-bum’). Sebum has an important job to do – it protects your skin by keeping it moist and making you a bit waterproof.

If you get too wet or put your body in water for a long time, the sebum will get washed off your skin. What happens then is that water gets inside your skin. Imagine putting a towel into water and watching it get waterlogged – that’s what happens to your skin!

Doctors and scientists think that the wrinkliness that happens to your fingers and toes when you get really, really wet is supposed to help you grip onto things in the water. It turns out that getting wrinkly when wet is your body’s way of keeping you safe!

So, next time you have a bath or go swimming, take a look at your wrinkly fingers and toes. You’ll know that your body is being totally normal and trying to keep you safe in the water. And don’t worry – as soon as you dry out, the wrinkles will disappear and your skin will go back to looking normal again.

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3 thoughts on “Why do my fingers go wrinkly in the pool?

  1. Anne Collie March 21, 2018 / 8:59 am

    Is this another bit of evidence that suggests we evolved as a shore dwelling semi-aquatic ape ?

    Like

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