Love the skin you’re in? The answer should be “YES!” We’re used to seeing our skin in the mirror and shedding our clothing for bath time (or other activities…wink, wink), leaving our skin exposed, but how much do we really know about it?
From sunburns to stretch marks, pimples to pox, the human skin does far more than cover our muscles and bones. Skin is actually our body’s largest organ, and whether yours is baby soft, bumpy, or bristly, pale, dark, or somewhere in-between, there are some cool facts about skin that will surely appeal to your inner dermatologist.
These five skin-sational “Did you knows?” are educational and enlightening. You’ll never look at your skin the same way again.
Can’t lose those last few extra pounds? Don’t blame your snacking; it’s your skin. OK, so that’s not entirely true, but know that your skin clocks in at a rather surprising number – up to 20 lbs. on average! It’s hard to imagine that skin could be so heavy, but consider that there are about 21 square feet covering the average adult’s body. Suddenly, it doesn’t sound so shocking. Naturally, this measure varies from person to person, and a 5-foot-tall woman will have less skin than her 6-foot male counterpart. Still, the stats are something to think about, especially when you’re always running out of body lotion.
Note: The intestines come in 2nd place at about 7.5 lbs.
Your skin may look pretty much the same from head to toe, but the thickness (or thinness) of it varies quite significantly on different parts of the body. The skin is comprised of three layers – the epidermis (outermost); dermis (middle layer); and subcutaneous (innermost). The epidermis is our protective sheath, with pigment-producing cells that shed constantly. Inside the dermis there are nerves, glands, follicles, and oil. Lastly, our blood vessels, fat, and tissues are deeper inside.
Since we only see the epidermis, one may think it’s all pretty much the same. Not so. Compare the skin on your eyelids to that on the soles of your feet. The thickness is like night and day. We’d have a lot of trouble blinking if the skin on our lids (0.2 mm thick) matched our hearty heels (1.4 mm). And walking would be quite painful with only a thin barrier between our feet and the floor. If you have calluses, the thickness is even greater – fine for shock absorption, not as appealing for sandal-wearing. Age plays a role too. An adult’s skin is up to 3 times thicker than a newborn’s.
Skin cells shed like there’s no tomorrow. 30,000 – 40,000 dead skin cells are sloughed off by the minute, meaning new ones are forming to replenish what’s lost. That is a lot of skin and it doesn’t simply disappear into thin air.
Here’s the “ick” factor. About half of the dust you see in your home is dead skin. You might want to rename those dust “bunnies” after yourself and your family members. Now multiply that by everyone shedding simultaneously, and the world is virtually swimming in skin. As nasty as it sounds, it’s natural. Just keep your home tidy and you’ll never realize what’s really going on.
If skin is always shedding and new cells are forming, you may wonder how tattoos stay put. Sure, they fade over time, but they don’t disappear. It all has to do with the immune system. Inflammation from the tattooing procedure (which is essentially wounds) puts the body in fight mode, so as the cells overturn, they keep going after the dye, which is seen as a foreign element. The ink goes deep, into the dermis layer, so it’s not only surface-level. That’s where nerves and blood vessels thrive, so the “battle” goes on and on.
As explained by Heath – The Atlantic, “Special cells called macrophages come to the rescue, eating up the dye in an attempt to ‘clean up’ the inflammation it’s causing. The rest of the dye gets soaked up by skin cells called fibroblasts. The fibroblasts, along with many of the macrophages, stay suspended in the dermis in perpetuity.”
In short, your cells will go to try to heal the wound but will fail to remove the ink, and the tattoo will remain. So, if you’re thinking about getting inked, be 100% sure you’re ready for an “until death do us part” commitment.
Unless you’ve been airbrushed, you probably have something on your skin that wasn’t always there. Life happens, and the skin can show what you’ve been through. Many people have scars or stretch marks on their skin, oftentimes viewed as unsightly, but not uncommon.
The interesting thing about scar tissue is that it’s unlike the rest of the skin. If you have a scar, you’ll notice that hair will no longer grow in that section. You also won’t be able to sweat from the spot either since sweat glands cannot exist in the tissue. As for stretch marks, they come about from skin that has been stretched out too fast – perhaps from pregnancy, puberty, weight gain, or muscle mass. Some stretch marks fade as time passes, and there are creams that claim to do the trick. That said, some folks see their stretch marks as badges of honor – plenty of new moms wouldn’t trade theirs for the world.
If you’re noticing something strange with your skin, head to your nearest vybe location and get it checked out.
If you found these fun facts interesting, stay tuned for vybe urgent care’s next human body trivia post. The body is amazing, and we’re just getting started.