Why does skin wrinkle and not dissolve when wet?

When human skin is submerged in water the sebum is washed away faster than the body can produce it. Once exposed, the skin begins to absorb water, which causes the surface area of the skin to swell. To compensate for the increased surface area, our skin wrinkles.

Fortunately, when your skin wrinkles it maintains its structure. It doesn’t just fall apart and dissolve into the water. The skin’s resilient stretchiness comes from an intricate network of fibrous proteins called keratin, which make up the outermost layer of the skin, as well as hair and nails.

The keratin 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. Read more here, here or here.

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One Response to “Why does skin wrinkle and not dissolve when wet?”

  1. Sheryl VanVleck Says:

    So, I am presuming that Keratin also might have something to do with what happens to our face/skin as we age? ‘Cause, seems like it could be an easier fix with moisturizers etc. I have had good luck with (are you ready) CARMEX. Go figure.

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