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You must have noticed that when your hands are continuously exposed to water while washing utensils, after having a bath or after washing clothes, your fingertips become wrinkled. This is known as pruney fingers. They could serve a role by helping people grip wet objects or objects in water.
When the skin of the fingers and toes come in contact with water for a long time, the wrinkled skin resembles a dried prune (a dried plum). But, if you get wrinkled fingers without them being submerged in water, it could be a sign of a medical problem.
What Causes Pruney Or Wrinkled Fingers?
Pruney fingers occur when the nervous system transmits a message to the blood vessels to become narrower. The narrowed blood vessels reduce the size of the fingertips slightly, causing loose folds of the skin that form wrinkles.
Hands immersed in water for a long period of time is the most common cause of pruney fingers.
Medical Conditions That Cause Wrinkled Fingers
The following conditions may cause wrinkled skin on the fingers:
Dehydration occurs when you don't drink plenty of water and your skin starts losing some of its elasticity and may look shrivelled. Dehydration can affect your skin making it look dry.
The other symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth and lips, headache, dizziness, being confused or irritated and a darkish yellow urine.
Diabetes affects the functioning of the body that controls the blood sugar levels. High levels of blood glucose in any type of diabetes can cause wrinkled fingers. It damages the sweat glands and the lack of sweat causes dryness. Diabetic people are also at a risk of several skin conditions like bacterial infections, fungal infections, etc.
It is a skin condition that causes skin inflammation, itchiness, rashes and redness. Eczema dries out the skin and causes the skin to wrinkle. Atopic dermatitis is a long-term form of eczema which causes redness and dry skin that may swell up or itch.
4. Raynaud's disease
It is a disease that affects the small blood vessels that supply blood to the smallest parts of the body, including the fingers and toes. Raynaud's disease occurs when you are exposed to extreme cold and the symptoms are fingers turning white or blue in the cold, numbness and tingling.
5. Thyroid disorder
People who have a thyroid disorder can have pruney fingers as well as skin rash. Many experts believe that hypothyroidism is more likely to cause wrinkly fingers because it slows down your metabolism and lowers your body temperature. When your body temperature is lowered, the blood vessels in your fingers constrict to prevent loss of heat. This constriction causes wrinkles on the skin.
Lymphedema happens when there is a swelling in the arms and legs. The swelling is caused when the lymphatic system is blocked, as a result of the removal or damage to your lymph nodes during the treatment of cancer.
The lymph fluid cannot drain out properly and the fluid build-up causes swelling in the arms and legs. It can affect the fingers and cause pruney fingers.
When Should You See A Doctor?
If pruney fingers occur due to water exposure, there is nothing to worry about because the skin becomes normal after being dry for some time.
If pruney fingers occur without the fingers being immersed in water and due to the above underlying medical conditions, then you should immediately visit your doctor. Make a note of your symptoms so that your doctor can make a diagnosis.
How To Prevent And Treat Wrinkled Fingers?
As said earlier, fingers wrinkling due to water in any which way doesn't damage your body. But, to prevent this from happening, you can do the following steps:
1. Wear rubber gloves while washing the dishes and avoid immersing your hands for a long time in water.
2. Drink plenty of water and have foods containing water content like soup or watermelon.
3. Have flavourful alternatives to water such as herbal teas or clear juices.
For the treatment part, people with Raynaud's disease should try to avoid getting cold and wear gloves, thick socks and shoes to avoid freezing your hands.
If the symptoms of the disease become severe, a doctor will prescribe medicines to open the blood vessels and will allow blood flow to the hands and feet.
People with diabetes should keep their blood glucose levels stable and also should keep their skin clean and dry to avoid any kind of infections.
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