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Old 10-03-2010, 01:12 PM
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Default Can you absorb water through your skin to prevent or help dehydration?



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My wife asked me this today and I honestly didn't know the answer.

She said that if there was a body of very suspect water, no way to boil it or purify it, would it absorb through your skin if you soak in it for a while...

At first I thought "no way" but then I thought on it some more. Your skin soaks water when you take a long bath. Else you would not get "raisin fingers" or toes. Then there are thousands of capillaries in your skin. So why wouldn't it work?

And yes, I know that the point where you may die from dehydration, you can drink the suspect water to give you a little more time. Probably the same amount of time as you would get if you soaked in any suspect water for a while. But is it possible?

Also I understand that your body will work harder to re-heat your body after soaking in that water which may use up more of your bodies fluid. Possible impurities may also enter the skin through the pores I am sure it would keep out crypto and other cysts/bacteria.

Anyone else have input?

Vic
Old 10-03-2010, 01:28 PM
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I know ya get "prune fingers" from being water to long, and thats absorption, but I'm not sure how it would help with water getting into your blood, organs , etc.
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Old 10-03-2010, 01:39 PM
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The body doesn't absorb any water. Because of the hundreds of layers of dead skin, it makes a natural barrier so water cannot get in.

Skin is composed of three primary layers: the epidermis, which provides waterproofing and serves as a barrier to infection; the dermis, which serves as a location for the appendages of skin; and the hypodermis (subcutaneous adipose layer), which is called the basement membrane.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skin
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Old 10-03-2010, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Straza View Post
The body doesn't absorb any water. Because of the hundreds of layers of dead skin, it makes a natural barrier so water cannot get in.
But if that is the case, why do nicotine patches work? That is worn on the outer layers of skin also. There are other topical solutions that work like that also. So something must pass through the outer layers of the epidermis to get into our bloodstream right?
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Old 10-03-2010, 02:13 PM
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There are some pretty strong chemicals in things like nicotine patches. They design them to ossify into the skin, and that's why they do the job. Plain ol' water, does not share this quality. One thing I do know for sure though, is that soaking in the river will help your body retain what little water you have left, and not let anymore out due to sweating. It depends on the situation. If you are in a very hot climate, a nice river or pool can save your life, and help stabilize your core temperature. In a cold climate, getting wet and cold (obviously) is not a good idea.
You must take into account that the water needs to pass through your digestive system, where the nutrients can be absorbed. It's your organs that need the moisture, not so much the skin itself. So in a way, yes, you can keep your skin moist, and use a body of water to keep cool, preserving your internal supply, but your can't really "soak it up" (Unless your name is SpongeBob Squarepants)
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Old 10-03-2010, 02:15 PM
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You would absorb some, paramedics on ambulances will use warm, wet towels to hydrate the arm so they can start an IV. The problem with soaking in questionable water, is that you would still be exposing yourself to whatever substances that make you not want to drink the water.
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Old 10-03-2010, 02:16 PM
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It'll soak into the skin but not enough actually gets in the system to help prevent dehydration. On the positive side, being wet will help slow down dehydration due to sweating, so it can be of use in warm weather.
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Old 10-03-2010, 02:19 PM
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your body might absorb some water but not enough to help i would say putting somone in cool water would be more benificial if you were worried bout heat injuries to help cool them off but not help wit dehydration
Old 10-03-2010, 02:23 PM
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Awsome repsonses guys. I was just thrown by the question at first. I thought that a little water would be absorbed also, but not enough to prevent dehydration. Still a pretty good question for my wife to come up with.

Vic
Old 10-03-2010, 02:38 PM
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I have never heard of water being absorbed via the skin, however when immersed in salt water the body can absorb the minerals in the water and develop hyperkalemia (excessive sodium leading to cardiac issues)
In an absolute emergency where one cannot drink I have heard of water being infused rectally as the bowel will absorb water at a pinch can be used for emergency treatment of dehydration.
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Old 10-03-2010, 02:39 PM
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I have never heard of water being absorbed via the skin, however when immersed in salt water the body can absorb the minerals in the water and develop hyperkalemia (excessive sodium leading to cardiac issues)
In an absolute emergency where one cannot drink I have heard of water being infused rectally as the bowel will absorb water at a pinch can be used for emergency treatment of dehydration.
its called an isreali iv use a 2 quart canteen
Old 10-03-2010, 02:59 PM
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In an absolute emergency where one cannot drink I have heard of water being infused rectally as the bowel will absorb water at a pinch can be used for emergency treatment of dehydration.
Well, I guess that would be more comfortable than some of the other things people have told me to shove up there over the years!
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Old 10-03-2010, 03:33 PM
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Hey, Vic! I know this one!

The skin is the largest organ in the body, and the skin organ lacks the water distributive abilities that your digestive system has (stomach, intestines, etc). The skin's primary function is, of course, to protect us from the elements, so the skin can absorb water, but it will not let water pass into the body. On an interesting note, when your skin gets all wrinkled like that, it is because the epidermal layer, which is stratified and normally lies flat, has absorbed a bunch of water and the "pruney" phenomenon is actually the amplification of the irregular structure of your epidermal layer's squamous cells brought on by the absorption of water. Your dermal layer (the lower layer) won't absorb water unless you are lifethreateningly submerged in water. Neither layer will distribute the water to your body.

I once read a story about some WWII navy vets that were floating in the sea for 7 days or so (I can't remember precisely), and when they were rescued, their skin was irreversably destroyed when they were pulled into the helicopter. The autopsies of some of those men determined that, despite their skin being soaked to the point of mutilation, thier primary cause of death was dehydration.
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Old 10-03-2010, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vicdotcom View Post
Awsome repsonses guys. I was just thrown by the question at first. I thought that a little water would be absorbed also, but not enough to prevent dehydration. Still a pretty good question for my wife to come up with.

Vic
Definitely a good question. Tell her to sign up! Inquiring minds make for good discussion.
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Old 10-03-2010, 07:01 PM
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Yes, your skin can absorb water for use.....if you have gills .
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Old 10-03-2010, 07:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randon View Post
I have never heard of water being absorbed via the skin, however when immersed in salt water the body can absorb the minerals in the water and develop hyperkalemia (excessive sodium leading to cardiac issues)
In an absolute emergency where one cannot drink I have heard of water being infused rectally as the bowel will absorb water at a pinch can be used for emergency treatment of dehydration.
Bear did this in an episode of Man vs. Wild and talked about a family that was adrift at see and thats the only way they didnt die of dehidration was basicly to give eachother enimas'. If you had no other way of filtering and/or purifying water that would work. Not very plesant though.

I still cant believe they showed that on tv
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Old 10-03-2010, 07:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twyggy View Post
Hey, Vic! I know this one!

The skin is the largest organ in the body, and the skin organ lacks the water distributive abilities that your digestive system has (stomach, intestines, etc). The skin's primary function is, of course, to protect us from the elements, so the skin can absorb water, but it will not let water pass into the body. On an interesting note, when your skin gets all wrinkled like that, it is because the epidermal layer, which is stratified and normally lies flat, has absorbed a bunch of water and the "pruney" phenomenon is actually the amplification of the irregular structure of your epidermal layer's squamous cells brought on by the absorption of water. Your dermal layer (the lower layer) won't absorb water unless you are lifethreateningly submerged in water. Neither layer will distribute the water to your body.

I once read a story about some WWII navy vets that were floating in the sea for 7 days or so (I can't remember precisely), and when they were rescued, their skin was irreversably destroyed when they were pulled into the helicopter. The autopsies of some of those men determined that, despite their skin being soaked to the point of mutilation, thier primary cause of death was dehydration.
Great explination! I would thank you twice for that if I could
Old 10-03-2010, 07:42 PM
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Definitely a good question. Tell her to sign up! Inquiring minds make for good discussion.
She just reads over my shoulder sometimes. She is too busy playing "facebook games" to come here :eye roll:

But I do have to say that she is really starting to ask more and think about the lifestyle. And it wasn't my years of influence... it was watching "Man, Woman, Wild" on TV together... go figure lol
Old 10-03-2010, 07:45 PM
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ok people can not absorb water thru the skin.. Are you alien or what? your skin gets pruny cause you can't absorb water. it has too be ingested. come on now no human i know can absorb water thru the skin - just not possible
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Old 10-03-2010, 07:56 PM
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only a little bit though, it will not help
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