Why Your Skin Turns Pruny But Doesn't Dissolve After Soaking in Water

Everyone knows that if you swim or soak in a tub for a long time, your skin turn all pruny but have you ever considered how the skin doesn't simply dissolve? It's all in the keratin:

After a period in water the outer layer of the skin (the stratum corneum) expands, producing prune-like wrinkles. Earlier researchers suggested the stratum corneum expands as it absorbs water, but no one had yet explained why skin doesn’t fall apart when it has expanded.

Keratin is known to prevent evaporation from the skin and to absorb water to help keep the skin hydrated. The stratum corneum layer also gives the skin its stretchy properties and the ability to spring back.

Using computer modeling Evans approached the question from a geometric point of view to try to explain why skin maintains its structural rigidity after long exposure to water. She said the outer layer of skin contains a three-dimensional pattern of keratin fibers woven together to form a structure capable of acting like a sponge.

The fibers are helical when dry but straighten out as water is absorbed, which allows the network to hold a greater volume of water. All the contacts between the keratin fibers remain intact throughout the expansion, and this makes the material structurally stable, Evans said.


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I have a permanent case of "prune hands." It's caused by a neuro-immune disorder. Immune activation produces elastase and MMP-9, the former of which breaks down elastin (which is what gives skin its elastic quality) and the latter of which breaks down collagen. It actually makes it quite uncomfortable to use a trackpad! My fingerprints are also noticeably smoother than they used to be - my fingerprint scanner on my laptop no longer picks them up, and it did when I bought it in 2007.
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Sounds like neatoman has his head up his bum, and/or has believed everything his teachers have told him- despite the overwhelming design behind the things we once thought were so simple. In dear ol' Darwin's day, the complexity of a human skin cell was thought to be comparable to a Cadillac. Now we're sure the complexity exceeds that of the CERN Hadron Collider. Modern "science" is as political as it is arrogant.
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