Comments for Hair And Nails After Death

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Jan 14, 2009
Hair and nail growth after death.
by: Glenn Wilcher Forensic Technician

This is a myth and the stuff of horror shows.
I have dealt with many bodies at autopsy that are mummified and with hardening and shrinkage of the skin the nails appear as they they have grown.
The scalp and face will also in mummification process experience hardening of the skin and shrinkage and sunken eyes, the hair may appear as it ha grown but more so with the nails.

If anything the hair comes off extremely easy in both wet decomposition and dry (mummification)when cutting the scalp to take skull off and access the cranial cavity.
Depending on the length of time of decomposition there may be no organs left to examine and the cranial vault is empty with just dried out pupae cases from the maggots.

Glenn Wilcher
Forensic Technician

Sep 29, 2008
Hair & Nails Do *Not* Grow After Death
by: Pammydi

Dr. Maples is correct. I work as a CSI and am an R.N. in Florida. This is a common assumption people tend to make. Think of it from a common sense point of view; after death the body goes into a state of decomposition. If the heart is not pumping, there is no blood circulating, and nothing to feed and nourish the cells; life has ceased.

Sep 21, 2008
Apparently It's a Myth!
by: John

My friend sent me a quote by forensic anthropologist William R. Maples that suggests it isn't true.

"It is a myth that fingernails and hair continue to grow after death. What really happens is that the skin may retract around them, making the hair and nails prickle up and jut out more prominently."

The quote is said to be taken from his book Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist. See following link for full details.

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist

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