Pruned or Wrinkled Fingers Causes and Treatments

Wrinkled, shriveled or pruned fingers are also known as waterlogged fingers.

Spend too long in the bath or in the ocean and come out with some parts of your skin as wrinkled as if they had been alive for thousands of years. These parts are known as glabrous skin. They include palms and fingers, toes and the soles of your feet. It only takes about five minutes for your skin to wrinkle in these parts because they respond uniquely to water by this happening.

Evolution of wrinkled fingers

Until the 1930’s, scientist believed that the skin around the fingers would swell and absorb water if you stayed in it long enough. However, they realized the same doesn’t happen when there was nerve damage, which meant that nerves had to be intact for the skin to wrinkle. In that case, then, water absorption was no longer a viable theory.

Wrinkled fingers
Picture of their appearance


Could there be an evolutionary explanation to why your fingers and toes wrinkle in the bath? Perhaps. This occurs when blood vessels constricting below the skin. Lab tests have found that wrinkly fingers and toes provide a far better grip on wet objects. Basically, your body seems to be working to allow you to function even in wet conditions.

When your skin wrinkles, it acts like the treads of a tire which help maintain grip in the rain so that the car doesn’t spin out of control. In the same way, when your fingers and toes wrinkle after being submerged in water, they help you maintain grip by channeling the water away from fingers and toes in wet conditions. This is probably why we can walk in the rain or hold a glass of wine in the bath or wash dishes without destroying them all.

In a study done by neurobiologist Mark Changizi, participants were given wet or dry objects with normal or wrinkled fingers. It was easier to pick up wet marbles with wrinkly fingers than it was with dry ones. The evidence suggests that wrinkly hands provide a grip advantage in wet situations. Better yet, the participants with wrinkly fingers could pick up the marbles whether they were wet or not. This means that pruned fingers have no disadvantage when it comes to dry objects.

Disclaimer: Other studies have been done that show either no effect or a negative effect on gripping things with wet fingers. So, it seems the science is still out on this one.

Wrinkled fingers, no water

Wrinkly fingers are an obvious bodily reaction to being submerged in water for an extended time period. However, when this occurs on fingers or toes occur without water, then there may it may be a sign of other medical conditions.



Water is important not only to hydrate your skin, but to provide moisture and maintain elasticity. When your skin is too dry, your skin shrivels because the cells lack moisture. This leads to wrinkled dry skin.

Depending on your age, activity level and where you live, your body needs different amounts of water. It is recommended that you drink at least 6 cups of water every day but based on the factors above, it may be wise to drink up to 8.

Note that if you are suffering dehydration, you will likely have dry peeling lips as well.

Vitamin deficiency

Your body requires certain essential vitamins to continue operating at an optimum level.

Vitamin C is shown to help prevent changes in skin structure caused by ultra-violet induced photo damage. Vitamin C has anti-oxidant properties and allows for collagen synthesis which improved skin health.

Just as well, research shows that Vitamin D and B12 deficiency also causes wrinkled, peeling fingertips.

Vitamin B-7 or Biotin helps to maintain healthy skin tissue. A defiency of the same leads to cracked or wrinkled fingertips.

Other vitamins such as vitamin B-1, B-5, thiamine or pantothenic acid also provide necessary nutrients for your skin, a lack of which leads to wrinkles and cracks.


Diabetes affects how the body processes blood sugar. When glucose in the blood is too high, the body tries to remove the excess amounts through urine. This causes a loss of fluid in the body which then leads to dryness of the skin.


Lupus is an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation of the skin. It causes swollen glands and pale, wrinkled fingertips.

If you suspect Lupus, you should visit a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

Thyroid disorder

Thyroid gland hormones are necessary for regulation of the metabolism, maintaining body temperature and other important functions.

Hyperthyroidism is caused by an underactive thyroid gland. This can lead to dermatitis or inflammation of the skin.  This would present itself as wrinkles on the skin among other things.

Ask your doctor to do a thyroid panel including T3, T4, Free T3, Free T4, and antibody.


Drink plenty of water

As mentioned above, drink at least 6 glasses a day and up to 8 glasses to keep your body hydrated and your skin moisturized.


Moisturizing your hands can help to keep moisture in. If regular moisturization doesn’t work, try Fenugreek.

Take 3 tbsps. of ground, fenugreek leaves and mix with water to create a paste. Apply the paste on your hands and leave it to dry overnight. Use it every night before bed for one week for best results.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is the holy grail of all things skin. Cut a fresh aloe plant and apply the gel on your hands. Leave it on for up to 45 minutes and then rinse off.

Aloe Vera helps to return elasticity to the skin, clearing out wrinkles.

Lemon and sugar

This will helps reduce the appearance their appearance. Take the juice of ½ a lemon and mix it with 1 tsp of sugar. Rub the moisture on your hands for 15 minutes and then rinse.

Do this every day for one week.


Improve the health of your skin by eating Vitamin C and E enriched foods. These include dark leafy greens, bell peppers, papaya or almonds, spinach, sweet potato.

Also take supplements to help regulate healthy vitamins in your body.



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