Why do hands and feet shrivel up after a bath?

Who doesn’t like to lie in the bath foam and feel good about it? But a long bath also has its side effects: wrinkled hands and feet. The fingertips in particular then look wrinkled and swollen. Oddly enough, other parts of the skin remain smooth. Why is that and is this phenomenon perhaps even associated with health risks – especially if you  want to go swimming  or  bathing more often  ? Don’t worry, the wrinkled skin is not harmful and it also quickly recedes.

Horny cells absorb water

The shriveled skin actually affects almost only hands and feet. Exactly why the skin shrivels has not yet been fully researched. It is usually assumed that the top layer of skin absorbs water. This consists of the so-called horn cells, i.e. dead skin cells, which can bind the water and swell up. Horny cells are particularly common on the hands and feet – about ten times more than on the other parts of the body.

Hands and feet are exposed to a particular daily strain – a particularly thick layer of horny cells develops on these surfaces for protection. When the horny cells have been soaked up with liquid, the top layer of skin expands. However, since these are connected to the subcutaneous tissue, this does not happen evenly – the result is wavy shriveled skin.

Other possible explanations for wrinkled skin

In more recent studies, the protein keratin contained in the outer layer of the skin is also held responsible for the wrinkling of the skin. According to the researchers  , the fibers of the keratin expand  and, due to their structure, create the wavy lines.

Another explanation could be that the shriveling is triggered by nerve impulses. Scientists suspect that the grooves in the skin are created so that we can grip objects even with wet hands.

Don’t be afraid of water

Swimming and bathing dries out the skin and can irritate the skin of sensitive people. Therefore, after every long bath, you should apply lotion to your skin so that it regains its fat and moisture. At high temperatures, care products that provide a lot of moisture are suitable. If the skin is particularly dry, a fatty ointment often helps better.

Tips for healthy bathing

  • If you have normal skin, there is nothing wrong with one bath a week.
  • Bathe for no more than 10 minutes.
  • The water temperature should not be higher than 35°C. The reason: If water is hotter than 35°C, it dries out the skin far too much.
  • Cleanse the skin with mild washing emulsions that do not destroy the skin’s protective acid layer.

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