The Effects Of Water On Human Skin



The weather gets hotter as another summer approaches, promising a few things – fun and frolicking at your local water park, lake, river, or along the coastal regions along the ocean. 

Where ever you’re from, as the heat rises, refreshing water calls us to it.  

Tenby St Catherine's Island

It seems only natural that during the warmer weather, we head for water.

As we are running into the shallows, ready for fun, one important question that you probably should consider is “What are the effects of water on human skin?”  

You may think you know the answer to this question, based on common knowledge, but it’s always good tot know a bit more, and that’s what we’re here for – to provide extra insight into this matter.

Read on to find out more!

Table of Contents:

  • [ps2id url=’#1′ offset=” class=”]Why does human skin get wrinkly when you stay in water too long?[/ps2id]
  • [ps2id url=’#2′ offset=” class=”]Benefits of Salt Water for Your Skin / Thalassotherapy[/ps2id]
  • [ps2id url=’#3′ offset=” class=”]Moisturizing Your Skin Using Sea Water[/ps2id]
  • [ps2id url=’#4′ offset=” class=”]Sea Water & An Improved Immune System[/ps2id]
  • [ps2id url=’#5′ offset=” class=”]Sea Water And Improved Circulation[/ps2id]
  • [ps2id url=’#6′ offset=” class=”]Sea water and well being[/ps2id]
  • [ps2id url=’#7′ offset=” class=”]The effects of chlorine on our skin[/ps2id]
  • [ps2id url=’#8′ offset=” class=”]In Conclusion[/ps2id]
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Let’s dive in!

Why Does Human Skin Get Wrinkly When You Stay In Water Too Long?

We all know that we as humans get wrinkled or prune-y skin on our hands and feet from staying in any kind of water too long.

We know this because most of us have experienced this at one time or another, an it happens to everyone.

why does skin get wrinkly in the waterSome of us have probably wondered at one time or another – is this healthy? 

Sure, it happens, and our hands and toes go back to normal eventually, but is this a good thing that it happens at all?

why does skin get wrinkly in water

If you are wondering why this rather strange thing happens, you should first be aware of something called “sebum”.  

What is sebum?  Sebum is a layer of special oil on the surface of your skin that acts as a barrier against things like germs and other baddies, which would like to invade your body if they could.

But they can’t – thanks to sebum!

Sebum also keeps water from leaving the skin’s surface, so it works both ways.  Oh, and it also makes your skin temporarily waterproof.  

One more thing – because sebum contains bacteria, it can lead to some body odour, and also why it relates to skin conditions such as acne.


Underneath this layer of protective oil known as sebum, human skin is covered in dead keratin cells, and these cells absorb water faster than any other cell. 

The hands and feet, because they get used to much, have extra dead skin cells, which means that they are particularly susceptible to taking on water, if the water can reach those cells.

Once the sebum gets eroded by the water, there’s nothing between these dead skin cells and the water, which immediately starts infusing itself into those cells and puffing them out, changing their appearance and texture. 

Basically, that outer layer of dead skin (grossed out yet?) is now water-logged, and will stay that way until it dries out again.

Want to see some really wrinkly skin? We know you do!

tim yarrow hand

An extreme case of super-wrinkly, damaged looking skin can be seen in the photo seen above, belonging to a guy named Tim Yarrow.

Here’s a video in which Tim stayed submerged in water for 10 days. Don’t worry, he ends up ok! (Still, we don’t really recommend doing this)

Before we move along, we should say at this point that while there’s nothing wrong with having your dead skin cells on your hands puff up and get all wrinkly, when the layer of sebum gets removed by water, it does leave you open to more infections if your skin were to stay like this for a long time.  

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Hence, it is not particularly in your best interest to lay around soaking in water for too long.

Benefits of Salt Water for Your Skin / Thalassotherapy

Now, while it is true that you don’t want to stay in water for too long because you weaken your skins protective layer between it and germs, at the same time you can rinse off dirt and germs with limited exposure to water.

Salt water in particular, has a number of awesome health benefits for your skin.

soaking feet in salt waterFor instance, it can help with various things such as eczema / psoriasis or itchiness.

This is why you might hear about salt water baths being offered as a way to cleanse those with problematic skin. 

Salt, as many of us know, acts as a cleanser.

salt water benefits

This is one reason why swimming in the ocean can actually be good for your skin, because while it might not be good to drink ocean water because the salt makes it toxic for consumption, swimming in sea water has many great benefits. 

Soaking in sea salt-infused water even has a fancy name – “thalassotherapy”, which just means soaking in sea water to receive certain physical benefits, including better blood circulation.

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Some of the benefits include increasing your immune system’s overall functioning, as well as promoting overall well-being and hydrating your skin.

Moisturizing Your Skin Using Sea Water

Skin moisture is one of the most important factors for your skin to look beautiful and vibrant, as many of us know.  

Signs of aging, which are always going to be inevitable, can be reduced simply by moisturizing your skin, and one way to do that is by soaking in sea water rich in magnesium.

magnesium bath soakThis has been proven to make your skin look more radiant through hydration. 

If your skin is typically dry, you can simply submerge your skin in water which contains 5% Dead Sea salt, and it will see benefits. 

Tap water, on the other hand, is not so great for your skin. 

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Now let’s look at our immune system…

Sea Water & An Improved Immune System

swimming with an elephant

The great thing about sea water is that it contains many natural “ingredients” that make us healthier, such as vitamins, mineral salts, amino acids, trace elements, as well as other living organisms that help to create antibacterial and antibiotic effects that contribute to a strong immune system. 

Experts say that sea water is actually very much akin to human blood in many ways, which makes it such, that when human skin comes into contact with sea water, it immediately integrates all of its key components quickly and efficiently. 

Meanwhile, you as a human being, simply get to splash around and reap the benefits!  Not bad, right?

In addition, soaking in the sea allows your body to do two things simultaneously, which is that your skin takes in good minerals that it may be missing, while expelling all of the toxins that your body doesn’t need. 

Overall, spending time bobbing around in the sea is a win-win, if you’re a human. 

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What about how sea water affects our circulation?

Sea Water And Improved Circulation

As we said, there is something about the similarity between blood and sea water that helps to improve your blood circulation when you are swimming in sea water. 


Because your circulatory system is always taking oxygen-rich blood to and from your heart by way of your veins and arteries, swimming in sea water, or thalassotherapy is a process which aids your circulatory system, by helping your body regenerate important minerals, which have been lowered by factors such as poor diet, stress, and adverse environmental causes. 

Here is a video which will give you an idea how it works.

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Now let’s talk about well-being…

Sea Water And Well-Being

kids swimming at the beach

As you can see by now, swimming in sea water is great for us. 

In fact, once we are in contact with sea water, some of our body’s natural healing abilities really start to kick in, allowing us to combat things like aches, pains, asthma, bronchitis, arthritis, and various inflammations. 

If the sea water contains extra magnesium, your muscles will be more relaxed, your stress level reduces, and once you are out of the water, you may want to take a nice nap. 

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The presence of magnesium helps to calm your nerves, making you feel rather zen-like. 

Effects Of Chlorine On Our Skin

effects of chlorine on skin

Now, what about chlorinated water and its effect on the skin?

If you don’t know, chlorine is a chemical element that is also used as a disinfectant in places like public pools, and it is also found in tap water. 

You can’t really have a pool without some amount of chlorine, or you’ll have nothing to fight the bacteria that will start to form, or the algae that will grow.

Basically, your pool would be a green swamp without it.

swimming pool without chlorine

That said, if you are a sensitive type of person who gets rashes easily, some might say it’s not necessarily from the chlorine, but from something else in the water, and how long you are exposed to it. 

We shouldn’t make it seem like chlorine is solely responsible for irritating your skin, although it could very well be the culprit. 

Overall, we need to, at least be careful with how much contact we have with chlorine, as it is a chemical, and it does get absorbed into our skin, causing very bad rashes like this:


On the other hand, it’s also true that swimming around in a pool filled with bacteria would not be good either. 

This is why sea water is great, because there is less bacteria, more minerals, and generally no chlorine.

Here are some of the effects of soaking your skin in highly chlorinated water:

  • Can cause rashes (eczema, acne, etc.)
  • Can cause cancer
  • Can cause premature aging
  • Can dry out your skin
  • Can deplete your skin of essential vitamins and minerals
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Well, that video was eye-opening, wasn’t it?  The lesson is, be careful what what you drink!

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, it’s all about moderation.  We all need water to stay clean, relax, and some types of water have health benefits (sea salt water) while some water is really bad for us (water with chemicals, ie. chlorine).  

We can stay in water for a while, and get all prune-y, but that will expose us, at least temporarily, to more germs when our skin is in that state of having no protective layers since the water eroded it and then took up residence in our dead skin cells.

So, as you proceed with your enjoyment of the summer, it’s probably good to keep some of this info in mind. 

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If you have any comments, or more questions, let us know!

About the author: Janis is loves to study topics involving health & wellness, and is obsessed with natural supplements and learning about what goes into them and what they do, or don’t do.  She went to university for nutrition with a minor in economics. Out of the Beach Baby Squad, she is the most likely to stay home. She also does the most of the product reviews on this site.