Why do we get prune fingers? (Thinkstock)
Why do we get prune fingers?
Lexile

You asked us, why do we get prune fingers?
 
People used to think that the wrinkles happened when the outer layer of our skin on our fingers and toes swelled up with water, but now we know that pruning is caused by blood vessels below the skin constricting.
 
It's an involuntary reaction to wet conditions by our autonomic nervous system, the same system that controls things like our breathing, heart rates and perspiration, things we don't have to consciously think about to do.
 
But why did our bodies, actually just our fingers and toes, evolve to react this way when wet?
 
You see, a few people started taking a closer look and thought, "hey, you know those wrinkles on our fingers and toes? They kind of look like tire treads, don't they?" So they began to test a hypothesis.
 
Maybe we wrinkle so, like tire treads, our fingers and toes can get better traction in wet conditions. Sure enough, our pruny digits do a better job of handling wet objects than dry fingers.
 
It's possible this nifty trick helped our ancestors get a better grip and sturdier footing in wet conditions. Thanks, science! Now I can kick butt at my next water balloon fight.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why don't we consciously think about breathing and heart rate?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (5)
  • ShawnaWeiser-Ste
    5/23/2016 - 01:20 p.m.

    I thought we just got pruned fingers because our skin soaked up the water. I guess I was wrong. Its great to know now though.

  • erino-6-bar
    5/26/2016 - 11:42 p.m.

    We don't think about breathing and heart rate because the autonomic nervous system controls many things such as "our breathing, heart rates and perspiration." When compared to those that are not consciously, there are very few bodily functions that can be voluntarily controlled. The majority of functions that must be performed consistently throughout one's life are not consciously controlled because the body learns to do it without conscious thought.

    I never knew why we got pruned fingers and toes and it was interesting to learn.

  • joonhee0415-byo
    6/16/2016 - 05:26 p.m.

    We don't consciously think about breathing and heart rate because the autonomic nervous system, the same thing that controls things like our breathing heart rates and perspiration. I thought you get prune fingers or feet is because I thought there were chemicals that make us have prune fingers or feet. I never knew that you get prune fingers and toes because of the blood vessels under our skin constricting.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    7/31/2016 - 12:32 a.m.

    We do not consciously think about our breathing and heart rate because those actions are involuntary. If we want to, we can stop our breathing, but otherwise our bodies naturally do what they must to survive. As mentioned in the article, it would make sense that our hands and feet wrinkle up when in wet conditions to give us better grip.

  • zakrym-ste
    12/13/2016 - 01:24 p.m.

    I thought we got it because we stayed in the water to long. Actually, they shrivel up to give us better grip. I hate the feeling of it though.

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