Why do nails keep growing after death?

x by Victor Bezrukov, on FlickrSomewhere right now someone has passed. Everyone asking questions.  Why so young?  Why now?  Why are their fingernails still growing? (Seriously? Ed)

The answer to this question is really quite simple.  As many of you may know, the human body is essentially a big sack of water which is contained within our cells.  When we die our bodies are no longer able to hold that water in, so we start to dehydrate.  When our skin dehydrates, it gets pulled tight.  And when it gets pulled tight around the hands, it may look as if the fingernails are growing, however it just the dry skin receding.

Similarly, hair does no grow after death – see Artem’s in depth answer here, with a bit more of the science.

Answer by Kyle Pastor

Question received via Facebook

Image: x by Victor Bezrukov, on Flickr

Article by Kyle Pastor

April 16, 2014

I received my bachelors in Physics from McMaster University and am currently working toward my Master's in theoretical polymer physics. I have always been interested in writing but never had a good forum to do so until Guru. Follow me on twitter @KAPastor and check out my website: kylepastor.com.


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