The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: How is skin waterproof?  (Read 13117 times)

SETF

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 18
  • heya
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« on: 29/01/2009 21:30:03 »
Tiara Francis  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi I'm Tiara Francis from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, WI one of the many Caribbean Islands.

My question is about the human skin; What about this organ causes it to be waterproof when the person is alive and easily 'water retaining' if the person is dead and found in a body of water over a period of time?

What do you think?

Chemistry4me

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7710
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #1 on: 29/01/2009 22:37:26 »
The outer layer of skin (epidermis) contains a tough, water resistant protein called keratin. As well as a greasy sebum, secreted by sebaceous glands, has an anti-microbial effect, as does the wax secreted by the skin lining the outer ear cavity.

Chemistry4me

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7710
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #2 on: 29/01/2009 22:45:42 »
Err... not sure what you mean by the dead person bit. ???

erickejah

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 347
  • Parking? I make my own parking spot!!
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #3 on: 31/01/2009 00:12:35 »
keratin. As well as a greasy sebum, secreted by sebaceous glands,
Is this the one that keeps temperature up?

Karen W.

  • Moderator
  • Too Much Free Time Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31545
  • "come fly with me"
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #4 on: 31/01/2009 00:37:46 »
Tiara Francis  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi I'm Tiara Francis from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, WI one of the many Caribbean Islands.

My question is about the human skin; What about this organ causes it to be waterproof when the person is alive and easily 'water retaining' if the person is dead and found in a body of water over a period of time?

What do you think?

I do know what you mean about a dead body! They do tend to puff up and become very water logged when dead and soaking in water.. I wonder if this has to do with the body no longer being able to breath and excrete from the pours etc.. I would think it would become much more porous if the skin was no longer breathing also.. as That was a way of eliminating excess fluids also.. tears.. urine sweat etc no longer have a exit so I am sure that would add to the bloating in the water not to mention natural absorption would seem like it would have no alternative as water would then be soaking into the skin and the body also filled form other orifices also so it would become more like a sponge of rotting flesh..I am no expert but I wonder if that holds true here? Maybe someone with some good knowledge will respond!

Welcome to the forum!

Chemistry4me

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7710
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #5 on: 31/01/2009 01:21:14 »
keratin. As well as a greasy sebum, secreted by sebaceous glands,
Is this the one that keeps temperature up?
??? Haven't you asked a similar question to this in another thread?

Chemistry4me

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7710
    • View Profile

SETF

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 18
  • heya
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #7 on: 01/02/2009 02:38:21 »
okay hi again!;D Just to clarify myself I did mean an actual corpse of a person retaining (swelling up with) water, if say when this person is retrieved from a sunk car for example!

And furthermore (another twist in my questions) if the body bursts from a disturbance to the vehicle what causes that? Water saturation and what else?

Thanks

Chemistry4me

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7710
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #8 on: 01/02/2009 02:44:52 »
okay hi again!;D Just to clarify myself I did mean an actual corpse of a person retaining (swelling up with) water, if say when this person is retrieved from a sunk car for example!
Sorry, still don't get what you mean.

erickejah

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 347
  • Parking? I make my own parking spot!!
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #9 on: 01/02/2009 02:50:08 »
keratin. As well as a greasy sebum, secreted by sebaceous glands,
Is this the one that keeps temperature up?
??? Haven't you asked a similar question to this in another thread?
Yep, I am just showing you that I studied the topic. :)

Chemistry4me

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7710
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #10 on: 01/02/2009 02:51:33 »
But you know now how temperature is monitored right?

SETF

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 18
  • heya
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #11 on: 01/02/2009 03:09:27 »
 ??? umm...a dead person soaking up the water its surrounded by.

The ability of the skin to allow water into it when the person is dead; and the ability of the skin to Prevent water from entering into it when a person is eg. having a bathe in the tub. The most that happens to this person who takes a long bathe in a tub is that their phalanges become all wrinkly. So what mechanism is turned off when this person dies that changes the properties of the skin.


Chemistry4me

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7710
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #12 on: 01/02/2009 04:51:39 »
Ummm... are you sure that the person hasn't just drank some water and filled his lungs with the stuff? E.g. Drowning?

erickejah

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 347
  • Parking? I make my own parking spot!!
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #13 on: 02/02/2009 00:55:56 »
But you know now how temperature is monitored right?
si +

lancenti

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 96
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #14 on: 02/02/2009 07:46:00 »
Imagine this scenario...

You're on a cruise then suddenly have a heart attack. No one notices, and you die. Shortly after, your body rolls off the side of the deck and falls into the sea. Luckily for you, sharks don't eat up your body and the waves carry you to a nearby island where people then see a balloon of a corpse instead.

Chemistry4me

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7710
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #15 on: 02/02/2009 07:51:21 »
But will that happen? I mean, will the body really balloon up?

lancenti

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 96
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #16 on: 02/02/2009 08:11:23 »
But to answer the question, the skin doesn't lose it's water-proof qualities when you die. In fact, it retains it. The reason bodies bloat (regardless of whether the bodies were in the water or not) is due to a process known as putrefaction. This happens when the digestive enzymes inside your body 'go out of control' and eat away from the inside, producing gases such as methane and carbon dioxide that build up.

If you keep your hands in water long enough, you'll notice that they 'prune up'. In this state, skin is much weaker and tends to be cut up more easily. Now, being a dead corpse it would have been there for quite a long time and we can expect the skin to be much weaker so it would tear much more easily when someone pokes the corpse. Think of it as a weak balloon filled up to it's maximum capacity.

Chemistry4me

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7710
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #17 on: 02/02/2009 08:16:35 »
After prolonged immersion, the outer layer of skin could become completely separated from the feet and the hands and come off like a glove or sock.

SETF

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 18
  • heya
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #18 on: 03/02/2009 02:22:48 »
The reason bodies bloat (regardless of whether the bodies were in the water or not) is due to a process known as putrefaction.

Hmmm very interesting...
If you can please talk a little bit more about putrefaction and its effect on skin.

lancenti

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 96
    • View Profile
How is skin waterproof?
« Reply #19 on: 03/02/2009 13:04:48 »
After prolonged immersion, the outer layer of skin could become completely separated from the feet and the hands and come off like a glove or sock.

It's called gloving, I believe.

Hmmm very interesting...
If you can please talk a little bit more about putrefaction and its effect on skin.


I'm not too sure, actually. You'll want to find a forensic scientist but essentially, I think the idea is that after your skin is stretched, since it's dead it's not exactly taut anymore so when the gas escapes and the body deflates the skin is separate already. The water must help it dis-integrate from whatever flesh is left.

 

SMF 2.0 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines