Who doesn’t love baths? For an hour, you can soak your worries away in a nice, relaxing bubble bath. But what about spending, oh I don’t know, 729 hours more? Yeah, we’re throwing you in for an entire month.
What would happen to your skin? How would you go to the bathroom? And how long is too long for a bath?
While resting in the water, your hands and feet would 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 an entire month? 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.
Congrats, you’re 24 hours into your bathtime marathon. Only 706 more hours to go and… Okay, no one said being in a tub this long would be so boring. Your rubber ducky has deflated, your laptop is dead, and uh, your body is starting to hurt.
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 would continue to form the longer you’re in the bath, creating bubble-filled skin all along your body. And as that happens, you’d start 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. Washroom time. You’d either have to do the deed 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 for the sake of my stomach, let’s go with that. But while you were debating your bathroom options, you’ve been ignoring those bubbles forming on your skin. As time has gone on, they could slowly fester and grow bigger. A couple of days into your bath marathon, they’ll start to burst.
Yeah, you heard me. Your skin is starting to rip apart. 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.
A couple of days into your month-long bath stint, you’ll start to develop bath sores. You know bed sores right? The ones that happen when you lay in bed for too long? Well, the same thing, just for baths. Since 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 °C and 26°C (70 °F to 80 °F), then spending just a couple of hours in the tub could make you pass out. Now those temperatures on their own aren’t enough to kill you. But if you’re rub-a-dub-dubbing for an entire month, your survival chances don’t look good.
Unless you’re heavily monitored with proper nutrition, consistent freshwater, and a way to go to the bathroom, being “clean” would be the least of your worries. But let’s say you did manage to survive a month? How would you feel?
Well, we’d imagine you’d feel a little different. Your skin would be ripped all along your body, not to mention festering with infection. Even if you did survive your extended bathtub adventure, you wouldn’t hop out the same person you were a month ago.
- “Water-Induced Finger Wrinkles Improve Handling Of Wet Objects | Biology Letters”. 2021. Biology Letters.
- “Grip Performance Affected By Water-Induced Wrinkling Of Fingers”. Tribology Letters 58 (3). Lin, Hsin-Ta, Ting-Fu Hong, and Wang-Long Li. 2015.
- “Hypothermia: Understanding And Prevention | Minnesota Sea Grant”. 2021. Seagrant.Umn.Edu.