TikTok is home to some pretty bizarre trends, but sometimes health tips the app can actually be helpful. Case in point: Karan Raj, M.R.C.S., who goes by the TikTok username @dr.karanr, posted a video where he weighed in on a simple hack for seeing if you're dehydrated. You may already be gauging your hydration level by the color of your pee, but this test is even easier to conduct and won't require a trip to the restroom.
The test is referred to as "the skin pinch test," and Raj shares in his video that it's actually a reliable way to find out if you're dehydrated. To try it, you pinch the wrinkly skin on your finger at the midway point, where your finger can bend in half. If your skin returns to normal right after you pinch it, you're suitably hydrated. If it retains the pinched shape for a few seconds or longer, says Raj, you're dehydrated. (Related: The 16 Best Water Bottles for Workouts, Hiking, and Everyday Hydration)
Is the skin pinch test legit?
Alicia Shelly, M.D., F.A.C.P., internist and expert with Testing.com, seconds Raj's notion that this is an accurate test to measure dehydration. "Skin pinching assesses for skin turgor, which is the elasticity of your skin," explains Dr. Shelly. A decrease in skin turgor is a sign of fluid loss, and health care practitioners will sometimes check skin turgor between patients' fingers or on their arm or abdomen, according to the National Library of Medicine.
"When you are dehydrated there is less fluid in the skin and so it takes longer for the skin to return to its normal position (snap back in place) after pinching for 1-2 seconds," says Dr. Shelly. "If you are hydrated, your skin has no problem returning to normal after the skin pinching." (Related: This Coconutty Watermelon Cooler Is So Tasty, You'll Have No Problem Hitting Your H2O Goals)
While the skin pinch test is a reliable method for testing dehydration, you should also factor your age into your results, as over time, skin elasticity decreases, says Dr. Shelly. "An elderly person has 20 percent decreased elasticity in their skin, so the skin may not return to normal as fast as someone who is younger," she says.
Are there other ways to check for dehydration?
"If you don't trust the finger pinch method, there are other ways to test for dehydration, including urine osmolality [a measure of the concentration of particles urine which can be measured via urine test or blood test], fluid intake, and expressing fatigue," says Dr. Shelly. And the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirms that the color of your urine can indicate how hydrated you are; A pale or straw-colored urine means you're in the clear, while a darker urine color suggests you need to hydrate more. The amount that you pee, your heart rate, and whether or not your mouth feels dry aren't so helpful when it comes to cluing you in to whether you're dehydrated, says Dr. Shelly.
As to why you'd want to keep track in the first place, staying hydrated is crucial to your overall health. "Staying hydrated helps with lubricating joints, boosts skin health and beauty, flushes body water and regulate body temperature," says Dr. Shelly. (All the more reason to invest in that jumbo motivational water bottle.) Daily water requirements are highly individualized, though, so it's helpful to keep tabs on the color of your pee or your skin's elasticity rather than assuming you should follow the classic eight glass rule. (Related: The Best Water Filters to Stay Hydrated at Home)
Consider this a sign to make drinking water a priority this summer — and to measure your success with the skin pinch test. Your body will thank you.