I’ve been on a mission lately to find some basic skin facts and what I found has’t disappointed. It’s ironic that we usually don’t appreciate it, but our skin is actually an incredibly complex (and large) organ. On average, every square inch (about 6cm²) holds a few hundred sweat glands, many blood vessels, 60 000 pigmented skin cells and more than a thousand nerve endings. Considering it’s no more than 2mm thick it does a pretty amazing job of protecting us from the outside environment, keeping our body temperature constant, converting the sun’s energy into vitamins, storing water & fats, removing waste and sending sensations.
The skin is made up of 3 layers (the epidermis, the ‘horny layer’ and the dermis). Each layer works in harmony with others and their respective environments. It constantly works, every second of every day, to renew itself and go about the functions mentioned above. Anything that throws off the functioning of one layer will in turn throw off the balance of this 3-part system. Understanding this lets us appreciate how complex our skin is and why simply lathering mismatched products onto it might not help with issues like dry skin. Below are some of my favourite basic skin facts!
Awesome (but slightly gross?) Basic Skin Facts to Appreciate
- Your entire skin is replaced every 28 days.
- In order to reach this hefty goal skin sheds about 30 000 to 40 000 dead cells every minute.
- This means that an average human sheds about 4kg of dead skin every year.
- About 15% of our total body weight comes from skin.
- Skin is adaptive; when exposed to frequent pressure or fiction it will reinforce itself, this is what we commonly know as callus.
- Changes in skin conditions often reflect overall health conditions, therefore any skin condition should be taken seriously.
- Many skin nerves don’t connect directly to the brain; instead they join nearby muscles and send signals to the spinal cord. This allows faster reaction time when responding to stimuli such as pain or heat.
- Scar tissue doesn’t just look different to normal skin, it also has no sweat glands or hair.
- In hot weather it’s possible for skin to sweat up to 10 liters over a day (please drink heaps of water).
- Over time the brain of a blind person will rewire itself so that touch stimuli are processed in the visual cortex (which usually processes vision), this is why blind people ‘see’ the world with their hands.
- Every inch of skin on your body is designed with a particular strength and elasticity for its position. Thus, the skin on your tummy is very different from the skin on your hands.