When we think of relaxing at home, many of us would imagine a long bath with fabulous fragrant bath salts, candles and soft music.

This is great and more often than not does the trick in easing a long, hard day at the office until you look at your hands and feet…yep, you look like a prune!



This condition is known as ‘water-immersion wrinkles’.

What are water-immersion wrinkles?
These are the strange wrinkles that form on your hands and feet after soaking for too long in the tub, leaving your hands and feet looking old and rather ‘prunish’.

What causes water-immersion wrinkles?
Strangely enough the jury is out on this one, they are still trying to determine the unequivocal cause. There are however two main arguments to substantiate this condition at present.

Possible cause #1 :
It is believed in this argument that the skin wrinkles are caused due to the top layer of skin (Epidermis) absorbing excessive amounts of water and swelling. This local swelling, in conjunction with the fact that the surface skin cells are attached to a deeper layer of skin cells which has not expanded, results in a ‘puckering’ of the superficial layer of the epidermis or skin (Stratum Corneum).

** This argument is being debated, in theory it cannot be explained why is it only the hand and feet that are subject to this ‘wrinkling’ and not the entire body? This theory was further ruled out when scientists disproved the occurrence of these wrinkles in candidates whom had suffered nerve damage in the fingers.


Possible cause #2:
Scientists are now saying that these water-immersion wrinkles may have helped our ancestors to get a better grip for handling tools during wet conditions. That the evidence indicates that in actual fact our fingertip shrinks when the surface wrinkles, as a result of the blood vessels inside them contracting. This is controlled by our autonomic nervous system which also governs heart rate and breathing (information as per the case study of Tom Smulders). It has actually been proven through scientific research that we are actually faster (15% faster) at moving objects with wrinkled hands then we are with normal dry hands .

** So in this instance you might ask why then do we not always have wrinkled hands? The answer would be, because these wrinkles come at a price they result in reduced sensitivity in the hands and feet.


So if you are planning to have a long soak in the tub the choice will be... ‘hands in’ if you plan to be a busy bee afterwards so that you have a better grip, OR ‘hands out’ if you plan on just relaxing.


Which do you think is more believable?