MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: Why does your skin wrinkle after being in water for a longish time?

Area: Medicine
Posted By: Joseph Miletich, M.D./PhD, Faculty Biochemistry/Laboratory Medicine
Date: Thu Jul 10 12:39:02 1997
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 868049959.Me
This question, and many more like it, has been answered in the "Last Word"
section of the New Scientist, which can be found at New Scientist.  
	Joe Miletich
	Washington University School of Medicine

q. Why does skin--especially of the fingers and toes--become wrinkled after 
prolonged immersion in water?

                     LLOYD UNVERFERTH
                     New South Wales 


                     a. The tips of fingers and toes are covered by a  
tough, thick layer of skin which, when soaked for a prolonged period, 
absorbs water and expands. However, there is no room for this expansion on 
fingers and toes, so the skin buckles. 

                     STEVEN FRITH

                     a. Your whole body does not become crinkled as the 
skin has a layer of waterproof keratin on the surface, preventing both 
water loss and uptake. On the hands and feet, especially at the toes and 
fingers, this layer of keratin is continually worn away by friction. Water 
can then penetrate these cells by osmosis and cause them to become turgid. 

                     ROBERT HARRISON

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