Why do your fingers wrinkle in the bath?

Allison Yee

Whether it’s from hours spent leisurely soaking in a bath, or way too long spent doing the dishes, we’ve all seen what happens to our fingers when we expose them to water for too long.

Looking wrinkled, pruney and like something out of a horror film, some have speculated that the effect might come from water making the skin on your fingers swell up.

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It turns out there’s actually a pretty interesting scientific reason behind your body’s response.

Source: Giphy

According to science, the temporary grooves on your fingers might actually be an evolutionary function to help us pick things up easier.

A study examined people picking up both wet and dry objects – including hard-to-grip items like marbles - with their hands wrinkle-free, as well as after they’d been exposed to a 30 minute soak.

Researchers found those with wrinkled hands were actually faster at picking up the items.

Source: Giphy

“We have shown that wrinkled fingers give a better grip in wet conditions – it could be working like treads on your car tyres which allow more of the tyre to be in contact with the road and gives you a better grip,” lead author Dr Tom Smulders explained.

“Going back in time this wrinkling of our fingers in wet conditions could have helped with gathering food from wet vegetation or streams.”

Ahh, the body is a wonderful thing.

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