Why do we get ‘prune fingers and toes’ after swimming for a long time?

After prolonged exposure to water, the skin on our fingertips and toes tends to shrivel up, making them look like dry, wrinkly prunes (a kind of plum). But unlike prunes which shrink when they lose moisture, our skin becomes wrinkled because it absorbs water.

Our skin is made up of several layers. The outer layer of the skin is mostly made up of dead cells that help protect the body. These cells contain a protein called keratin, the same protein which is present in our nails and hair. On our palms and soles, the quantity of keratin in the cells is higher, which makes the skin in these areas thicker and tougher.

The outer layer of the skin is covered by an oily substance called sebum which keeps water out of the skin. When we swim in the pool for a long time, the layer of sebum gets washed off leaving the skin exposed to water.

The keratin-rich skin on our palms and soles tends to absorb more water than skin on the other body parts. Thus, the skin swells up and becomes puffy, but cannot expand too much as it is attached to the layer beneath and shrinks instead, resulting in prune fingers and toes.

Picture Credit : Google 

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