Why does hydrogen peroxide turn the skin white?

Have you ever used hydrogen peroxide to clean a wound or bleach your hair and wondered why the area turned white? Many of us have! Fear not, for we are about to embark on a fun journey to answer this burning question. In this article, we will explore the science behind hydrogen peroxide’s magical properties that turn our skin white.

What is Hydrogen Peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) belongs to the family of compounds known as peroxides, which contain an oxygen-oxygen single bond (bond, huh, get ready for more scientific jargon). It is commonly found in most households and is mainly used as an antiseptic or cleansing agent. The chemical compound consists of two atoms of hydrogen (H) and two atoms of oxygen (O), one more oxygen molecule than water (H2O).

How does it work?

When applied topically, hydrogen peroxide releases oxygen gas molecules from its solution by reacting with enzymes present in living organisms. As humans have catalase enzymes in their cells’ cytoplasm and mitochondria that decompose H2O2 into water(H20)and gaseous Oxygen(02)-OH bond between them breaks down under exposure from heat […yet prone to accept electromagnetic radiation…] while causing foaming due to Oxygen release according to $\%$ formula[^1]. BOOM There go those free radicals again gobbling electrons like they’re at a Thanksgiving dinner table [^4], leaving behind bleached areas on the surface; hence -the infamous ‘white spot.’

Let’s break it down

Catalases typically convert H202 into O₂ + H₂0[1]; however…
In theory:
The action involving breaking apart substances through decomposition mechanisms does depend upon activation energies[], such as how much energy must be invested to start a reaction through the transfer causing the geometric arrangement of molecular substances[6]. A smaller difference between the enthalpy and entropy in catalytic reactions[] means more spontaneous bond-breaking itself, implying less infusion of energy needed.

Catalase Enzymes? Sign me up!

Catalases are enzymes present in living organisms that convert hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen gas. These enzymes are essential for our physiological well-being as they protect our cells from oxidative stress caused by harmful free radicals. Additionally, catalases play an indispensable role in detoxifying various pollutants inside our bodies.

Why do we need these enzymes?

Because why not? Our body consists of many oxidizing agents (a chemical species that removes electrons) like free radical molecules which can cause damage to our cells’ DNA or even lead to cancer development [^4]. Although antioxidants help combat such radicals’ effects on biological systems ( hint seen those vitamins pills around?) enzyme regulation is significant- just like home-safeguards against thefts…

Hydrogen Peroxide vs Bleach

H2O2 solutions differ explicitly from bleach due primarily because it cannot bleach certain materials selectively nor does it last long since a dye change occurs until rinsed off with clean water[^2,t1]; Also, if you’re clumsy like me/ my dog over here who loves playing short-distance sprint games, little drops could stain your clothes beyond repair -ever used nail-polish remover near your textile laundry?- so beware!

So what’s with all the bubbles?!

Ever noticed how when H202 reacts with bacteria(like on wounds), soap(mixed w/H202 solution)[t3], or blood clots-It tends to bubble up rather excitedly? This effervescence-more common term for fizzing–is pure chemistry ^_^ We witness gaseous Oxygen(02) as H202 breaks down into the reaction, thus generating activity on the surface [^1].

Conclusion- skin white!

So in conclusion, hydrogen peroxide causes a chemical reaction when it comes into contact with catalase enzymes present in our skin cells. The enzyme splits the H2O2 molecule into water and oxygen gas molecules; this release of O₂ is what turns our skin white.

In summary, Hydrogen peroxide’s bleaching properties are due to its oxidative nature that allows it to remove electrons from other substances acting at times – as we say politely “a bit too extra”[5]! Nonetheless, with proper safety precautions such as applying small dilutions or rinsing off with baking soda solution following use – It can be an excellent addition to anyone’s first aid kit.
Now go forth my friends clean away but if you happen to see any ‘white spots’, remember you’re shining like a star ! Without having left the confines of your sink…