• When you have been soaking in the bath, shower, or swimming pool for a long time, your skin may resemble a shrunken and shriveled raisin, but the opposite reaction has actually taken place to what forms raisins--the skin has absorbed water and expanded.

    Skin Layers

    The skin is made of layers--an outer layer called the epidermis and a lower level called the dermis.

    What Happens

    The epidermis produces an oily substance called sebum, which keeps water out of the skin. When you spend a long time in the water, much of the sebum is washed away, and the epidermis starts to absorb water and swells. The skin does not absorb water evenly, creating wrinkles.


    Once you get out of the water, the water your skin absorbed will begin to evaporate, your body will produce more sebum, and your skin will return to its usual size.

    Hands and Feet

    Many biologists believe dead keratin cells absorb the water, according to the Library of Congress. The hands and feet have the thickest layer of dead keratin cells because they are subject to a lot of wear and tear, explaining why hands and feet wrinkle the most in water.

    Other Effects

    Hair, fingernails, and toenails contain keratin and absorb some water. This is why nails get softer after you bathe or wash the dishes.


    Kid's Health

    Library of Congress Everyday Mysteries

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