What is the Skin Squeeze Effect in Diving?

 Swimming in the ocean with sharks is one of the most memorable things someone can do in their life. Skin squeeze during the scuba expedition can be just as memorable and potentially dangerous as well. We’re going to explain briefly what skin squeeze is and how to avoid it on a dive.

What is Skin Squeeze in Diving?

Skin squeeze is a type of barotrauma in diving (don’t worry, it sounds a lot scarier than it actually is), or damage caused by the changing pressures underwater. When a diver descends into the water, the diver has a certain pressure in their body. But when they descend, the water around them increases in pressure, as there’s more water on top of the surrounding water that adds to more weight pressing down on the diver. The liquid and meaty parts of a diver will have the same pressure on the surface as in the water, so a diver’s arm, for instance, will feel no different. The difference arises in the places of the body filled with air, such as the ears, sinuses, lungs, and the mask. In some cases, the skin can be included in this as well if there is air trapped in the suit.

When the diver descends in the water, they’ll feel a sort of squeeze in their lungs, ears, mask, and perhaps their suit, affecting the pressure on their skin. While squeezes inside the body can certainly lead to damages, skin squeeze or suit compression can make for an uncontrollable descent, leading to other problems.

How Skin Squeeze Works

Skin squeeze is caused when the air inside the scuba suit constricts due to the increased water pressure. In mild cases, the squeeze can lead to bruising or skin abrasions. In serious cases,  the volume of air in the suit can lose buoyancy, making the diver heavier or lighter than the water around them and causing them to sink or ascend uncontrollably. When a diver sinks too quickly, they’re prone to panic and could fail to correct lung, mask, and ear squeezes worsening bodily issues. When they ascend too quickly, they risk giving themselves decompression sickness.

How to Ease Skin Squeeze

The weight of the suit is crucial for buoyancy control. A buoyancy compensator could correct any buoyancy issues that occur during the dive. Suits could also have an inflation system used to replace the volume lost in dry suits. No matter what, dry suits should not have any weights attached to them, as more weight increase buoyancy difficulty. So don’t pick up anything you find in the sea!

In case you’re curious, to ease lung squeeze, the diver must breathe continuously. For mask squeeze, breathe into the mask. For ear squeeze, pinch the nostrils to let air escape out the ears.

The expert divers at Aqua Planet Dive Centre and Charter will tell you everything you need to know about proper diving procedures and precautions. You will never dive alone and you will always have an expert nearby who can assist you if anything goes wrong. We want you to enjoy your time diving with us and the sharks as much as possible.

By Jennifer Dawson