Nail and Hair Growth after Death

| August 12, 2010 | 2 Comments

While you may be fascinated by creepy facts about death, such as hair growth after death, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. Given below is a brief description of the structure and function of nails and hair, and what happens to them when a person dies.

An Overview of Nails

Nails are made of a tough fibrous protein called Keratin, and they protect the sensitive tips of fingers and toes. The visible part of the nail is made up of dead cells. The root or base of the nail, where nail growth begins, is the only part that contains living cells. When the keratin deposited in the root cells dies off, they become a part of the visible nail.

Lunula, the white half-moon-like section of the nail is a thickened area that prevents underlying blood vessels from showing. The rest of the nail can be pink due to the abundance of blood vessels lying underneath.

Eponychium or cuticle is a skin fold at the point where the skin of the fingers and toes meet the nail. The cuticles seals off and protects the area as the nail grows. Fingernails usually grow approximately 2 inches per year. Toenails grow at about half the rate of fingernails.

An Overview of Hair and Hair Follicles

Hair covers the skin, and the dermis of the follicles is where the roots of hair sit. The hair follicles receive blood through the papilla. A muscle known as erector pili is attached to every hair follicle. This muscle erects the hair to provide insulation when it is cold.

Although your genetics determine the color of your hair, melanin performs the function of providing hair color. Hair tends to turn gray or white with age as the melanin produced decreases. Hairs fall out with time and are replaced by new ones. A human scalp has around100, 000 hair follicles. Hair grows about 13 millimeters per month.

Do The Nails And Hair Continue To Grow After Death?

That nails and hair continue to grow after death is just a misconception. Once a person or an animal dies, both nail and hair growth stops. What people perceive as nail and hair growth after death is merely an optical illusion. After death, the body dehydrates (loses water and moisture) which makes the skin shrink around the skull and skeleton. With the shrunk skin, more nails and hair get exposed, making them appear as growing. Funeral workers moisturize the body with creams to keep it hydrated.

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  1. RINA says:

    PHWEEH! I HAVE FINALLY GOTTEN RID OF THE MYTH. IT WAS REALLY SPOOKY TO KNOW THAT HAIR AND NAILS GROW AFTER DEATH. NOW I KNOW THE TRUTH, I AM FREE OF A NIGHTMARE.

  2. J says:

    Wrong, they do grow after death, for a short time, due to the electric pulses that the body still has left. Only for a SHORT time. untill all the electric pluse die. and thats could be a few days, or weeks after death…

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