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Why does the skin of your finger shrink when you wash clothes for a long time?

Asked by Anmol, Last updated: Oct 14, 2020

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2 Answers

P. Micah

P. Micah

P. Micah
P. Micah

Answered Nov 19, 2019

I read somewhere some time ago on how the soap works on the skin; the soap is a hypertonic solution (higher concentration), more concentrated compared to our skin cells. During the process of washing, the cell is immersed in a hypertonic solution; as such, water diffuses out of the cells by process of osmosis due to the lower concentration present in the water outside the cell.

As a result of this process, the cell shrinks, and this process is called exosmosis. Overall, why our fingers shrink when we wash for a long time is due to the process of exosmosis that takes place in the skin cells. This process is totally harmless because as time progresses and your skin is exposed to external air or sunlight, the skin tends to retain its normal outlook, thus ending all processes of exosmosis.

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M. Delilah

M. Delilah

M. Delilah
M. Delilah

Answered Oct 14, 2019

The skin of our fingers shrinks when we wash clothes for a long time, which is because of exosmosis. The solution of detergents acts as a hypertonic agent and affects the cells of our fingers. Water from the cells in our fingers move out through osmosis due to the concentration gradient.

Scientists once believed that our skin absorbs water like a raisin, and it gets puffy, but later on, scientists discovered that people having dead nerve cells in the skin do not experience puffy skin even when they have the same skin as other people have.

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