Dead skin cell decomposition

Dead skin cell decomposition

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What would be the resultant by-products of a completely decomposed dead skin cell? What would be the size of each of the by-products of a decomposed dead skin cell? How long would it take for a dead skin cell to begin to decompose? I am curious because anything below the 10 micron range can enter the alveoli of the lungs and cause emphysema. I have had eczema since early childhood, and therefore have breathed in more dead skin cells and by-products of dead skin cells than those without eczema, principally during sleep.

The epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, sheds corneocytes. Corneocytes are 30-50 micrometers in diameter.

How does the Human Body Eliminate Dead Cells? (with pictures)

The human body is a complicated system which operates much like a self-contained city. Some organs produce new cells, others use cells to perform their jobs, and eventually certain scavenger cells arrive to remove dead cells from the system. In the case of the human body, these scavengers are specialized white blood cells called macrophages. Macrophages remove the cells essentially by eating them, which helps to explain why the word macrophage means "big eater" in Greek.

When external skin cells die, there are a number of mechanical and chemical methods used to slough them off. Exfoliants and scrub brushes are often employed to remove dead cells and encourage new cell turnover. But cells that have died within the human body are not so easily removed. They go through a much more complicated elimination process, which is not always as efficient or thorough as one might hope.

Living cells die through two different processes. Many body cells are programmed to die at a prescribed time, through a process called apoptosis. Red blood cells, for example, are programmed to die after 120 days of service. Other cells, such as white blood cells, may be programmed to die an apoptotic death after only a few days. These dead cells may continue to flow through the body's bloodstream or collect in various organs, but they are clearly no longer contributing to the system.

The other process of cells dying is called necrosis. Necrotic cell death usually occurs after a trauma or infection or other shock to the system. When cells become necrotic, they may be removed through surgery or other medical intervention, but often they enter the bloodstream in the same way as apoptic cells. The body cannot function well with an overabundance of dead cells, so macrophages take on the mission of breaking down the excess.

A macrophage cell can literally detect cells that have died through smell, much like a scavenger bird detects dead animals. Whenever dead cells reach the part of the bloodstream patrolled by a macrophage, the macrophages surround them and convert them into easily removed components. At the same time, the macrophage covers the dead cells with a substance known as an antigen. This action tags the cells for further attack from other types of cells in the body's immune system. Ideally, the macrophages and killer T-cells should render both dead cells and foreign invaders harmless enough to re-enter the bloodstream for elimination.

When macrophages become overwhelmed, however, they may allow some cells that have died to pass through unprocessed. The DNA from those cells may trigger an inflammatory reaction as the cells combine with other substances. This process is the basis for many autoimmune diseases such as Crohn's disease or lupus. Bolstering the body's macrophages is often a course of treatment recommended for autoimmune diseases and even some forms of cancer.

The dead cells are eventually eliminated in a number of ways. Macrophages and other immune system components have essentially digested the body's cells, parts of which may be reused. Material from these cells also makes up part of the solid waste we call fecal matter.

A regular InfoBloom contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

A regular InfoBloom contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

How Many Skin Cells Do We Shed Every Day?

Human skin is an amazing organ -- protective, waterproof, and exceedingly useful. It's also constantly changing and regenerating itself. That said, what happens to dead skin cells? You might be a little grossed out to find out where they go and just how many you lose each day.

Your skin is composed of several layers. The layer you can see is called the epidermis. It's composed of cells made of keratin, a hard substance that also forms your hair and nails. In other species, keratin forms hooves, claws, horns, and even the shells of turtles and the spines of porcupines. The individual cells are called keratinocytes [source: National Geographic].

New keratinocytes grow at the lowest level of the epidermis, which bonds with the next layer, the dermis. The new skin cells gradually push their way to the top layer. When they reach the top, they die and are "weathered" by the environment and your daily activities. The top "dead" layer is called the stratum corneum. Eventually, the dead cells break away from the epidermis and fall off, making room for newer cells growing up from below. It takes roughly one month for new cells to get all the way to the top layer, meaning the skin you have a month from today will be completely new compared to the skin you have now.

If you're wondering exactly how many skin cells fall off, get ready for some staggering numbers. Scientists estimate that the human body is made up of around 10 trillion cells in total. Your skin makes up about 16 percent of your body weight, which means you have roughly 1.6 trillion skin cells [source: BBC]. Of course, this estimate can vary tremendously according to a person's size. The important thing is that you have a lot of skin cells. Of those billions of skin cells, between 30,000 and 40,000 of them fall off every hour. Over a 24-hour period, you lose almost a million skin cells [source: Boston Globe].

Where do they all go? The dust that collects on your tables, TV, windowsills and on those picture frames that are so hard to get clean is made mostly from dead human skin cells. In other words, your house is filled with former bits of yourself. In one year, you'll shed more than 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) of dead skin. It gets even grosser: Your house is also filled with trillions of microscopic life forms called dust mites that eat your old dead skin.

If you can stomach learning lots more information about your skin, see the links on the next page.

Factors Affecting Decomposition

  1. Body- The first factor is related to body itself its body size or mass. Large bodies take longer to decompose than small bodies.
    The second important consideration related to body is whether or not the body is intact.
    If there are wounds on the body, there are more openings for organisms ranging from bacteria
    to insects to carnivores to attack, accelerating decomposition.
    The third consideration is the clothing. A nude body lying on the ground will decompose faster than a clothed body. Heavy clothing will slow decomposition more than light clothing.
    Wrapping a body in plastic or some other similar material will decelerate the process.
  2. Environment – Weather, climate, humidity, all have affects on the decomposition rate. For example Cold weather slows the rate hot weather accelerates it, On the other hand Frozen bodies do not decompose. Direct sunlight and High humidity also accelerates decomposition.
  3. Soil- A buried body will decompose slowly than one found on the surface, yet acidic soil and high soil moisture content can accelerate decomposition of buried bodies.
  4. Floraand Fauna- Plants also can accelerate deterioration of the body. Scavengers tend to devour a corpse in a characteristic sequence beginning with the torso and viscera. They may
    drag parts of the body to secluded areas for feeding dis-articulating the body.
  5. Insects – Nothing affects the rate of body decomposition more than insects.
    Insect activity varies area to area and season to season.

Artifactual preservation refers to the preservation of a body or tissues by natural processes, chemical substances, or by the destruction of bacteria which may significantly alter normal decomposition processes. The above factors promote Artifactual preservation of dead bodies.

More Cell Defenders

The macrophage tells the T-cell what it found.

One of the other first defenders, a type of T-cell called the helper, acts like the “commander” of your immune system army. When the macrophage enters the lymph node, it finds the dendritic cell and reports what it found on its patrol of the skin.

The message moves again, up the chain of command. The dendritic cell reports the invaders to the inactivated helper T-cell commander. The helper T-cell now knows what kind of invader it's dealing with. It seems a war is needed. The T-cell activates into a full-fledged commander!

The T-cell makes a plan of action.

Action Plan

If the number of invaders is very, very small, sometimes the neutrophils and macrophages can take care of it on their own. This can stop a major infection from starting. But, once the macrophage presents information to a dendritic cell, the commander has to be told. A plan of action must be made.

Killer T-cell

Sometimes, the danger is great. During times like this, the body has special fighters. Just like wrestlers come in different age and weight classes to match an opponent, some T-cells are made for certain germs. The special fighter T-cells in your immune system are called killer T-cells. The helper T-cells can go into the lymph node and find the one killer T-cell matched to the invader and call them into the fight.

The macrophage shows the ID tags (antigens) from the invader to an inactivated killer T-cell. This cell then activates and makes more and more copies of itself. This army of killer T-cells will follow the path of cytokines to the injury and begin the full-scale attack against the germs.

These activated killer T-cells scan all the skin cells around your paper cut. They try to find the special antigen that marks invader cells. The antigen can even alert them to an invader if its hiding inside of one of your skin cells.

Once that antigen is found, the killer T-cells shoot out cytotoxins that destroy the antigen and any skin cell it has infected. The macrophage then comes and gobbles up the dead, germ-filled skin cells to keep your system clean.

The B-cells catch wandering viruses.

Finally, depending on the type of germ, the helper T-cell can ask the B-cell to join in the fight. This last defender, the B-cell, is important because it can trap, or mark, the germs that haven't yet infected a cell.

The B-cell shoots out antibodies, which we can think of as nets. The nets are called immunoglobulins, and they look like the letter “Y”. Germs are caught in the fork of the “Y” and neutralized so they can’t infect your body.

Just like the killer T-cell, the B-cell will make more and more copies of itself in your lymph nodes before it heads to the infection. When we feel swollen lymph nodes, it’s because our activated B- and T-cells are making armies to fight germs!

5 Layers And Cells of the Epidermis

The epidermis is the outer layer of the skin it is composed of stratified squamous epithelium but lacks blood vessels.

There are five main layers of the epidermis they include the stratum basale, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum lucidum, and stratum corneum.

This is also called stratum germinativum it is the deepest layer of epidermis. It is a single role of cuboidal keratinocytes and the cytoskeleton. Within this epithelium, cells include keratin intermediate filament. New keratinocyte are produced in the stratum basale, also melanocytes and merkel cells are found in this layer. This layer is close to the dermis and nourished by dermal blood vessel. As the cells in the stratum basale divides and grow, the older epidermal cells are pushed away from the dermis towards the skin surface. As this cells moves away from the dermis so as they are supplied with poor nutrient and in time gets hardened and dies (keratinocytes).

This is composed of 8-10 layers of keratinocytes. The keratinocytes begins to join by having keratin intermediate filaments insert in desmosomes. The cells found in this layer are the Langerhans cell and melanocyte projections. In this layer the melanocyte, transport their pigment into the keratinocyte. The dead cells composed in the stratum spinosum are eventually shed.

The stratum granulosum is composed of layers of flattened keratinocytes undergoing apoptosis. A keratohyalin (a protein) in cells is produced in this layer, it assembles keratin intermediate filament into keratin protein. Also in this layer, a lamellar granules release lip-rich secretion for water- repellent sealant to a skin.

This is the thickened skin of the palms and soles. This layer may be missing where the epidermis is thin over the rest of the body. The stratum lucidum is composed of 4-6 layers of flat dead cells.

This is the outermost layer of the epidermis, it is formed by the accumulations of dead cells (keratinocyte) in the outermost epidermis, and these dead cells contained here are eventually shed. In stratum corneum plasma membrane enclosed packets of keratin called corneocytes. In a healthy skin, production of epidermal cells is closely balanced with loss of dead cells from the stratum corneum in other that the skin does not wear away completely.

The rate of cell division increases where the skin is rubbed or where pressure is applied to the skin regularly, causing growth of thickened area called calluses on the palms and soles, and keratinized conical masses on the toes called corns.

The epidermis is made up of four cells.
(1) Keratinocyte
(2) Melanocyte
(3) Langerhans cells
(4) Merkel cell

These cells are arranged in layers within the epidermis. As the keratinocyte gets closer to the surface of the skin, produces keratin. It also produce lamellar granules, a water repellent sealant that keeps water out.

This cell are those cells that produce a dark pigment called melanin, which gives the skin its color. The melanocyte transfers the dark pigment to the keratinocyte. The melanin absorbs ultra-violent radiation in sunlight, preventing mutation in the DNA of skin cells and other damaging effects. That is to say, that melanin protects us from damage against ultraviolent light. The melanocyte lie in the deepest portion of the epidermis, even though they are the only cell that produce melanin, the pigment also may be present in other epidermal cells nearby. This is because of the long pigment containing cellular extension that pass upward between epidermal cells. This extensions transfer melanin granules into these other cells by a process called cytocrine secretion.

The number of melanocyte are about the same in all people, the difference in the skin color result from differences in the amount of melanin that the melanocyte produce and in the distribution and size of pigment granules. The skin color is mostly genetically determined. If genes instruct melanocyte to produce abundant melanin, the skin is dark but if the gene instruct melanocyte to produce lesser melanin, the skin is white.

This cell participate in immune response against microbes.

This is also known as AKA type1 cutaneous mechanoreceptor. This cell detects touch of sensation, they contacts sensory neuron along tactile disc.


(1) Cyanosis: this occurs when blood oxygen concentration is low leading to a bluish color in skin.
(2) Erythema: this is the redness of skin due to injury, exposure to heat, inflammation, or allergic reactions.
(3) Jaundice: this is the yellowish color of skin and white color of eye usually due to liver disease.
(4) Pallor: this is the paleness of skin caused by shock or anemia.

Biological importance of Aloe vera and its active constituents

8.3.9 Wound Healing Effects

It is a dynamic process and one of the well-known properties. The three phases in the process of wound healing are (i) inflammation, hyperemia, and leukocyte infiltration, (ii) removal of dead tissues , and (iii) epithelial regeneration and formation of fibrous tissue ( Reddy et al., 2011 ). Interaction of Glucomannan (a mannose-rich polysaccharide) and a plant growth hormone gibberellin, with growth factor receptors of fibroblast, stimulates its activity and proliferation for increased collagen synthesis in topical and oral administration of Aloe ( Hayes, 1999 ). Studies reveal about the use of Aloe gel for the treatment of radiation burns and radiation ulcers ( Syed et al., 1997 ), and complete healing in two radiation burn patients ( Yeh et al., 2003 ). The Aloe administration influence collagen composition (more type III) and increased collagen cross linking for wound contraction and improving breaking strength ( Reynolds and Dweck, 1999 ). It also increases synthesis of hyaluronic acid and dermatan sulfate in the granulation tissue of a healing wound ( Chithra et al., 1998 ).

Decomposer | Definition, Structure , Types & Functions

A decomposer is defined as an organism that decomposes or breaks down the organic material including the remains of dead organisms. The decomposers are included bacteria and fungi. These organisms carry the process of decomposition that all living organisms undergo after death. The decomposition is an important process because it permits the organic material to be recycled in an ecosystem.

The function of Decomposers:

The decomposers perform an important task in every ecosystem. The dead organisms would not be broken down and cannot be again recycled in the living matter in the absence of decomposers. The decomposers are heterotrophic that means they gain energy from ingesting the organic material. A dead organism gives nutrients for decomposers such as bacteria and fungi to grow and reproduce, and propagate their own species.

Stages of Decomposition:

When an organism dies and the decomposers decompose the dead material, the organisms go through the five stages fresh, bloat, active decay, advanced decay and dry/remain.

This is the first stage that starts as soon as when the heart of the organism stops beating. Autolysis starts to occur with no more oxygen come in the body and a buildup of carbon dioxide occurs. Putrefaction also starts to occur.

The buildup of gases occurs due to putrefaction, and remains of organism appear bloated in this stage. Some of gases and fluids purged from the body.

Then the remaining lose mass and liquefaction and disintegration of tissues start to occur. The bacteria generate chemicals like ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and methane that cause strong odors.

After active decay, the organism lost a lot of its mass, so there is not much left for decomposition. If organism is on or in the soil, the surrounding soil will present an increase in nitrogen, which is an important nutrient for plants.

This is the last stage of decomposition, in which only dry skin, cartilage, and bones are left. The plants’ growth can occur around remains because it increases nutrient levels in the soil. In the end, only the bones of organisms left.

Examples of Decomposers:

Some examples of decomposers are given below:


The bacteria are microscopic, unicellular organisms which found almost everywhere on the earth, also include the body of the human. After the death of an organism, it gives many nutrients for bacteria in order to grow and reproduce, and they become numerous in the putrefaction process during the decomposition. The bacteria are caused by sickness and death when an organism affected by bacteria.


The fungi are the main decomposers present in many environments. Some examples of fungi included yeast, molds, and mushrooms. The fungi contain hyphae that branch the filament and these hyphae have the ability to enter the organic matter which makes the fungi effective decomposers. Wood decay fungi have particular enzymes which digest the compounds in wood and are the main decomposers in the forests.

Decomposers and Detritivores:

Some of the organisms do similar tasks as decomposers, and sometimes known as decomposers, but technically they are Detritivores. The difference between the decomposers and detritivores lays in the way of breakdown the organic material.

Detritivores have to digest the organic material within their bodies to its break down and in order to gain nutrients from it. While the decomposers have no need to digest the organic material internally to break down, instead of this, it can break down by chemical reactions.

Decomposers and Scavengers:

The scavengers are the first to arrive at the remains of dead organisms, and they eat the dead plants and animal material directly. Once the scavengers did with remains of dead material, the decomposers and detritivores take over and consume the parts which have left by the scavengers. Examples of scavengers are included lions, jackals, wolves, raccoons, and opossums.

1. Fresh stage (roughly 0-12 hours after death)

In the first hours following your death, your body shows no outward signs of decomposition but lots of stuff is going down on the inside. Four major things happen during the fresh stage: livor mortis, algor mortis, rigor mortis, and autolysis (cell death).

Algor mortis, aka the cooling of the body, occurs right after death. Typically, your body’s temperature drops by two degrees per hour until it reaches the temperature of the surrounding environment. And in the first few hours after death, livor mortis — aka the pooling of blood in certain parts of your body — happens. Because gravity is a thing here on earth, the blood will settle in the part of your body that’s closest to the ground. Livor mortis usually finishes around eight hours after death.

During all of this mortis action, rigor mortis (muscle stiffening) is also taking place. Smaller muscles — like your facial muscles — stiffen faster than your larger muscles. Because your heart has stopped pumping blood, muscle cells throughout your body can no longer receive oxygen. As a result, calcium ions cannot be pumped out of the muscles, which causes significant stiffness in the body. “Rigor mortis usually appears within two to four hours after death and peaks at around 12 hours after death, and then the muscles begin to relax,” Wescott says. Eventually, tissue decay loosens the muscles and your body relaxes.

Cell death — or autolysis if we want to be fancy — also occurs during this stage, but becomes more prominent in the next stage.

What bacteria decomposes dead animals?

Bacteria play an important role in decomposition of organic materials, especially in the early stages of decomposition when moisture levels are high. In the later stages of decomposition, fungi tend to dominate. Bacillus subtilis and Pseudomonas fluorescens are examples of decomposer bacteria.

One may also ask, what bacteria break down dead tissue? Decomposers (fungi, bacteria, invertebrates such as worms and insects) have the ability to break down dead organisms into smaller particles and create new compounds.

Likewise, people ask, do bacteria decompose dead matter?

Decomposition is the process by which bacteria and fungi break dead organisms into their simple compounds . Plants can absorb and use these compounds again, completing the cycle. Decomposing bacteria and fungi are described as saprophytic because of the way they break down dead organic matter.

Do fungi decompose dead animals?

Fungi like mushrooms, mildew, mold and toadstools are not plants. They don't have chlorophyll so they can't make their own food. Fungi release enzymes that decompose dead plants and animals. Fungi absorb nutrients from the organisms they are decomposing!

Watch the video: How many dead skin cells fall from your body, Every minute? (October 2022).