Why do fingers wrinkle in water?

WrinkledFinger

It is an annoying side-effect of doing the dishes without gloves. But letting your fingers go wrinkly in the water can actually help with doing the dishes – by stopping you from dropping them.

The shriveling of the skin on the fingers makes it easier to grip things underwater and pick up wet objects, researchers found. Newcastle University scientists asked people to pick up marbles and fishing weights and transfer them from one container to another.

The objects, which were sometimes submerged in water, were picked up with normal hands and with hands that had been held in warm water for half an hour to make them wrinkly. Wrinkled fingers were quicker at picking up wet objects but offered no advantage for moving dry ones, the Royal Society journal Biology Letters reports.

Wrinkles form when the blood vessels constrict, shrinking the fingertips and pulling in the skin.

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