The 4 Stages Of Human Decomposition

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What is "human decomposition"?

Human decomposition is a natural process involving the breakdown of tissue after death.

Stage 1: Autolysis (aka Fresh)

Time Frame: Immediately After Death

Rigor mortis sets in and the skin's top layer begins to loosen.

Blood circulation and respiration stop. Membranes in cells rupture, releasing enzymes that begin eating the cells from the inside out.

Stage Two: Bloat

Leaked enzymes produce gases that cause skin discoloration. The gases can cause the human body to double in size.

Insect activity begins.

Time Frame: 3-5 Days After Death

Stage Three: Active Decay

Time Frame: 8-10 Days After Death

Fluids released through orifices indicate the beginning of active decay. Organs, muscles, and skin become liquefied.

Hair, bones, cartilage, and other byproducts of decay remain after all of the body’s soft tissue decomposes.

Stage Four: Skeletonization

Time Frame: Dependent on outside factors

The body completely liquefies, leaving behind a skeleton.

The skeleton has a decomposition rate based on the loss of organic (collagen) and inorganic components.

Unattended death could lead to exposure to dangerous bloodborne pathogens, although decomposition itself is a perfectly natural process.

A professional trauma and crime scene cleanup company should always be called to clean and disinfect the site.