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Z Rechtsmed. 1984;92(4):277-90.

[Stages of postmortem formation of washerwoman's skin--results of systematic qualitative and quantitative experimental studies].

[Article in German]


The development of washerwoman's hands depends upon the length of submersion. Until now there have been no results published on the qualitative and quantitative time-related changes with regard to washer-woman's hands. The fingertips of 50 hands from 35 corpses were qualitatively examined at early postmortem (1-4 h after death). The quantitative investigations were confined to the tips of the middle fingers. Submersion of the hands in water at 37 degrees C was interrupted at intervals of 10 min, 30 min, 60 min, 2 h, 3 h, 4 h, 6 h, 10 h and 24 h for a period of 30s-1 min. The width of three adjoining ridges of the skin were measured in three defined areas of the middle fingertips and photographs were taken. Quantitative results: No relevant differences were seen in the changes of the width of the skin ridges between the right and left hand after submersion in water; there was no specific difference between the sexes. During the soaking process the skin ridges influence each other. The age of the individual corpse has no influence on the change in width of the skin ridges. Concerning the qualitative test results, six time-limited stages could be classified: stage I: physiological dry state; stage II: softened state; stage III: swollen and compressed state; stage IV: partial wrinkle covering; stage V: epidermal lysis; stage VI: loss of relief outlines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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