You may be familiar with the idiom “Beauty is only skin deep”; meaning that a person’s character is more important than their appearance. But surprisingly there may be many things that our skin can tell us about a person’s inner world.
To begin with we recognize others primarily by the skin on their face. Furthermore, the skin’s facial muscles and blood supply tell us a lot about their moods. We can see if a person is happy, sad angry or embarrassed just by looking at the way a person uses their facial muscles and the color that the blood turns the skin.
In this article you will learn 5 things about skin that may surprise and astound you. But first, let’s take a quick look at the three layers that make up your skin.
The Three Layers Of Skin
Skin is our largest organ. An adult carries 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) and 22 square feet (2 square meters) of it. Skin does more than making us look decent, without it we would literally evaporate. Skin is comprised of three layers. The outermost layer is the epidermis. The epidermis is mostly made up of cells called keratinocytes (which is comprised of the tough protein keratin). The thickness of the epidermis varies dramatically. On most of your body it is barely thicker than a sheet of paper, where as the skin on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet are considerably thicker.
The epidermis is bonded to a deeper layer of skin called the dermis. The dermis is made up of fibers of collagen and elastin which gives skin its elasticity and strength. Blood vessels in the dermis assist with the regulation of body temperature. They can increase blood flow to the skin releasing heat or, when it is cold, they can restrict blood flow. Feelings such as touch, pain and temperature are relayed to the brain by a network of nerve fibers and receptors found in the dermis. The dermis has hair follicles and gland ducts that go through to the top of the skin.
The bottom layer of the skin is the subcutis. This layer includes a seam of fat that is there as a reserve for times when there may be food shortages. It also protects us from bumps and falls and insulates the body.
With this information at hand it is now time to explore 5 astonishing facts about humble skin.
1. YOU SHED SKIN
You may be surprised to learn that snakes are not alone in their capacity to shed and replace their skin. In fact, humans go through this process more often than snakes do. keratinocytes form several lays that are always growing outwards as they reach the exterior the cells die and flack off. The dead skin is called the stratum corneum. It takes approximately five weeks for new cells come to the surface.
Every day, millions of dead skin cells are shed but they don’t fall off all at the same time. You lose approximately 30,000 scales of skin flakes from your every minute, leaving a trail of shed skin wherever you go. Over the period of a year you lose around one pound of this dead skin.
The reason you don’t see this skin lying around is that once it leaves your body most of it becomes dust. You may be shocked and a litter repulsed to learn that when you vacuum your house you are mainly vacuuming up skin flakes. The silvery-grey color that the dust has is a result of the transparency of your skin flakes.
2. YOUR SKIN CAN CREATE VITAMIN D
Vitamin D has long been known to help your body absorb calcium but what has recently been discovered, through various new studies, is that vitamin D plays a role in the prevention of cancer and other diseases. It has now been accepted as a hormone that activates a range of cellular processes.
Vitamin D is not found in many foods, however your skin has the capacity to create this vitamin when it is exposed to the sun. To be effectively absorbed the ultra violet rays of the sun need to be in direct contact with your skin. To gain the necessary dosage of vitamin D you need to have 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight two or three times a week.
3. YOUR SKIN IS MADE UP OF STEM CELLS
Your skin needs to be resistant to a lot of wear and tear. When skin gets grazed or cut it has to be able to repair itself. Once more every day we expose our skin to physical stress that occurs when our clothes rub up against us or when we expose our skin to the sun. We also use various chemicals, for example, soap on our skin.
Skin stem cells are the things that make it possible for us to maintain our skin and keep it as an effective protective agent. These stem cells are in charge of renewing your skin and for healing wounds. There are several different types of skin stems cells that have, to date, be discovered by scientists: epidermal stem cells; hair follicle stem cells; and melanocyte stem cells.
In 1970, Professor Howard Green (in the USA) discovered how to take epidermal stem cells and multiply them. They can then be used to grow sheets of epidermis in the lab. A patient can receive a skin graft transplant made from the new epidermis. This technique is primarily used to save the lives of patients who have third degree burns over large parts of their bodies.
4. YOUR SKIN IS AN OIL FACTORY
Your skin has two types of glad that continuously squirt oil onto your skin. Firstly there are the sweat glands. These glands secrete oil, which dampens your skin, in an attempt to cool it down. Secondly there are sebaceous glands. These glands wrap around one of the fine hairs that are found over your entire body. When your body finds it necessary it stimulates them to release an oily substance called sebum. The substance seeps out of the hair follicle and onto your skin.
Sebum has many positive benefits. It aids in the prevention of bacteria growth, softens hair and moisturizes your skin. Unfortunately sebum glands are also responsible for creating acne.
5. SKIN GETS ITS COLOR FROM A PIGMENT CALLED MELANIN
People from around the world all sport various skin color tones. There is an enormous range of tones; from the darkest black to the palest white. You may wonder what causes these variations in skin tone. The answer is skin color is determined by the amount of melanin your body produces. Melanin is made in the epidermis layer of the skin. Everyone has the same amount of cells that produce melanin but not everyone produces the same amount. The more melanin your body produces the darker your skin is.
So all though beauty may be, on many levels, only skin deep there are a lot of beautiful characteristics of our skin. Admittedly there are also many repulsive things that our skin does and makes. All in all our skin is an amazing organ that is full of surprising and unique attributes.