Why do our fingers appear wrinkled and old when we keep them wet for a few minutes? The question has intrigued scientists for a long time and a new explanation says that it’s because the keratin on our fingers absorbs water and expands.
The cells on the outermost layer on our fingers are dead cells. They are stacked together and contain the protein keratin. When these cells are exposed to water for a longer time, they absorb the water which causes keratin to expand. In fact, fresh research shows that keratin can expand as much as five times in size when exposed to water.
This explanation for the wrinkles on our wet fingers comes from Professor Roland Roth of Tubingen University and Dr Myfanwy Evans of Erlangen University. Interestingly, their research shows that the skin is able to absorb water only to a limit because then it achieves a balance between its elasticity and the tension in the stretched filaments of dead cells.
So the very structure of keratin is such that at one hand it expands, allowing water to be absorbed by the dead cell. And at the other, it asserts a tension after it absorbs a certain amount of water, thereby checking the stretching of the filaments.
The findings are very significant and the researchers say that it can be critical in helping people with skin problems in a more effective manner. The research, if critically approved by others in the science community, may enable the creation of a more natural artificial skin.
Courtesy: Daily Mail