New research from scientists at a research institute in Berlin has found that the wrinkly fingers which occur after prolonged exposure to water serves no real purpose. A previous study from the Brits a year earlier had suggested that this phenomenon could produce an advantage in terms of grip and handling of objects in a wet environment (for example when reaching for the soap), but this latest study of 40 subjects failed to show a difference in dexterity or sensitivity between wrinkled and non-wrinkled hands after a period of water immersion. What is known is that skin wrinkling occurs as a result of constricted blood vessels which pulls the skin tissue inwards, triggered by the sympathetic nervous system.
The purpose of the shrivelled up finger therefore remains an unsolved mystery. No doubt that research will continue in this field on both sides of the Chanel to try and answer the question. Until then, Brits will have to put up with their shrivelled up fingers and the Germans with their concisely and aptly termed ‚Schrumpelfinger‘ without knowing why.