After a long day, isn’t it nice to hop into a warm, relaxing bath? You can soak up some suds and spend an hour or so in there.
Now, what about spending 167 hours more? What would happen to your skin? How wrinkled would your body get? And how long is too long for a bath?
While resting in the water, your hands and feet start to become wrinkly, compared to the rest of your body. We used to think the skin in hands and feet absorbed water, and that’s what made it wrinkle. But research has shown that vasoconstriction, a narrowing of the blood vessels in our fingers and toes, is the real cause.
It takes about five minutes for skin to start wrinkling, but how much more intense would these wrinkles become if you stayed in the water for a week? Could they become dangerous?
Before we get to those scary scenarios, you can rest easy for a bit. Enjoy yourself! After all, this is a bath, and that’s kind of the point.
For the first couple of hours, you can bring your rubber ducky in and play in this nice warm water. You’ll quickly notice the wrinkles, but there’s nothing to worry about – yet.
Although they might look a little strange and gross, they actually might be helpful. According to a handful of studies from 2011 to 2013, these wrinkles might actually be giving us a better grip in the water. So if you happen to lose your soap in the bathtub, the wrinkles might be able to help you.
So now, it’s coming up on 24 hours out of your 168-hour experience, and you’re getting a little bored. Your rubber ducky has deflated, your laptop is dead, and you’re starting to feel some pain.
You’ll start to notice bubbles forming on your skin. These are known as vesicles. In this case, they’re caused by the water in the tub getting trapped between your outer and middle layers of skin.
These bubbles will continue to form the longer you’re in the bath, creating bubble filled skin, all along your body. And as that happens, you’re starting to get hungry.
It’s unlikely you’ll have access to servants while you’re in this bath, so your best bet for getting fed would be with a tube filled with all the nutrients you’d need. But then, you know what comes next.
You’d inevitably have to go to the washroom. You’d either have to do it in the bathtub, which would cause a number of disgusting consequences no one wants to know about, or you could have a tube that disposes of all this.
So let’s go with that. But as you’ve been thinking of all these crazy ways to cope with your bodily functions, you’ve been ignoring those bubbles forming on your skin. As time has gone on, they’ve been slowly festering and growing bigger. This will happen until a couple of days into your bath marathon, when they begin to burst.
Now your skin is starting to peel away. And if you haven’t been disposing of your waste, you’ll be in a pool full of fecal matter with open sores all over your body. Yes, this is a perfect way for you to get infections all over your skin.
And if this isn’t enough to worry about, a couple of days into your bath, you’ll start to develop bath sores. These are similar to bedsores, which happen when you lay in bed for far too long.
Сince there’s not much space to move around in your bath, it could also tear your new skin bubbles, creating even more sores. As you’re stuck in this bath, most likely in incredible pain, you’ll realize these sores have been distracting you from something else that’s happening.
The water has been getting colder the whole time. If you haven’t been adding in any more hot water, and you don’t have any way to sustain the temperature, your bath could get dangerously cold.
If your bath temperature gets down between 21 to 26°C (70 to 80°F), then spending just a couple of hours in the tub could make you pass out. Luckily, it can’t kill you, as the temperatures just aren’t low enough.
But if it goes any lower, you could end up dead. Unless you’re heavily monitored with proper nutrition, consistent freshwater, and a way to go to the bathroom, this will end up very badly. I gotta admit, this is a pretty awful way to spend a week.
So even if you did manage to survive all this, you’d come out a very different person. With your skin ripped all along your body – and that would most likely be infected – it’s unlikely you’d survive what would come shortly after you did get out of the bath.
- “Water-induced finger wrinkles improve handling of wet objects”. Kyriacos Kareklas, Daniel Nettle and Tom V. Smulders 2019. Biology Letters.
- “Grip Performance Affected By Water-Induced Wrinkling Of Fingers”. Lin, Hsin-Ta, Ting-Fu Hong, and Wang-Long Li. 2015. Tribology Letters 58 (3). Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi:10.1007/s11249-015-0515-4.
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- “Hypothermia Prevention: Survial in Cold Water | Minnesota Sea Grant”. 2019. seagrant.umn.edu. Accessed December 18 2019.
- “Why Does Skin Go Wrinkly in Water?”. Afsaneh Khetrapal, BSc. 2017. news-medical.net. Accessed December 18 2019.
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