A little boy watched his mother put cold cream on her face and asked her, “What’s that for?”  She replied, “It’s face cream to get rid of the wrinkles and make me look younger and more beautiful.”  A few minutes later the mother removed the cream and the little boy said, “It’s not working, is it.”

Most parents get asked by their younger children as to why after a long soak in a tub of water their fingers and toes temporarily become so wrinkly.  And for the longest time, the reason remained a mystery.  But now scientists believe they have come up with the answer.  For many years it was thought that wrinkles were caused by osmosis – the swelling of the outer layer of the skin as water seeped into the cells.  (However, when the nerve which supplies feeling to an area of skin on the palm is cut, that part of the skin not only becomes numb, but it also loses the ability to wrinkle when wet.)  So we now know that it is the nervous system which causes the rippling effect in fingers and toes – automatically shrinking the blood vessels just below the skin and leaving the greater surface area above to wrinkle after being in water for five minutes or more.   But that stills begs the question, why does the body automatically do such a thing?

Here is the answer.  Researchers took about 50 objects (glass marbles and lead fishing weights of different sizes) and placed them in a tub of water.

Then a group of people were asked to do the following. First, take the objects out of the tub with their wet, wrinkly hand (which had been in a pail of water for half-an-hour).  And second, take the same objects out of the same tub of water with their other dry, smooth skinned hand.  In each case, both were timed as to how long it took to complete the job, with the wet, wrinkled hand being far faster.  Their conclusion?  Just as tread on a tire helps to improve traction by channeling water  away, so too do wrinkles on the fingers and toes.

The bottom line?   What wrinkled fingers and toes in the tub do is provide parents with an opportunity to say, “You know what?  God designed the skin on your fingers to wrinkle that way so you could hold onto things underwater better. And God designed the skin on your toes to wrinkle that way so that you can walk on the wet ground without slipping so easily.  This is what the Bible means when it says we are fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)


“I don’t take wrinkles seriously. They only exist in the mirror. … Wouldn’t it be great if we could put ourselves in the dryer for ten minutes and come out wrinkle free and three sizes smaller. … Just as soon as we stop fighting pimples, we start fighting wrinkles. … If you’re stressed, you get pimples.  If you worry, you get wrinkles.  So just smile and get dimples. … Life is like a long bath, the longer in it the more wrinkles you get. … Jewelry takes people’s minds off your wrinkles. …  At my age, I don’t iron. If I’m not wrinkle-free, why should my clothes be? … I’m pretty sure that eating chocolate keeps wrinkles away because I have never seen a ten-year-old with a Hershey’s bar and crow’s feet. … Wrinkles!  The headline nobody likes.”