Tribology of skin : review and analysis of experimental results for the friction coefficient of human skin

S. Derler, L.C. Gerhardt

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan tijdschriftTijdschriftartikelAcademicpeer review

214 Citaten (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


In this review, we discuss the current knowledge on the tribology of human skin and present an analysis of the available experimental results for skin-friction coefficients. Starting with an overview on the factors influencing the friction behaviour of skin, we discuss the up-to-date existing experimental data and compare the results for different anatomical skin areas and friction measurement techniques. For this purpose, we also estimated and analysed skin contact pressures applied during the various friction measurements. The detailed analyses show that substantial variations are a characteristic feature of friction coefficients measured for skin and that differences in skin hydration are the main cause thereof, followed by the influences of surface and material properties of the contacting materials. When the friction coefficients of skin are plotted as a function of the contact pressure, the majority of the literature data scatter over a wide range that can be explained by the adhesion friction model. The case of dry skin is reflected by relatively low and pressure-independent friction coefficients (greater than 0.2 and typically around 0.5), comparable to the dry friction of solids with rough surfaces. In contrast, the case of moist or wet skin is characterised by significantly higher (typically >1) friction coefficients that increase strongly with decreasing contact pressure and are essentially determined by the mechanical shear properties of wet skin. In several studies, effects of skin deformation mechanisms contributing to the total friction are evident from friction coefficients increasing with contact pressure. However, the corresponding friction coefficients still lie within the range delimited by the adhesion friction model. Further research effort towards the analysis of the microscopic contact area and mechanical properties of the upper skin layers is needed to improve our so far limited understanding of the complex tribological behaviour of human skin.
Originele taal-2Engels
Pagina's (van-tot)1-27
Aantal pagina's27
TijdschriftTribology Letters
Nummer van het tijdschrift1
StatusGepubliceerd - 2012

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