How much do you really know about your skin and the vital roles it plays in ensuring good health?
Here are 10 things about the skin you live in that may surprise you:
1) Skin is the largest organ in the body and occupies approximately 1.73 square meters [or more than 18.5 square feet] to cover our flesh and bones. It also makes up about 16 percent of our body weight.
2) There are four main receptors in the skin that respond to pressure: Meissner’s corpuscles, Merkel’s discs, Ruffini endings, and Pacinian corpuscles. Each receptor responds to a different type of touch. “Meissner responds to light touch, Merkel to pressure and texture, Ruffini to stretching, and Pacinian to vibration and deep pressure,” Dr. Bank says. Additionally, there are countless free nerve endings in the skin that gauge pain and temperature.
3) Skin plays an important role in regulating body temperature. Your skin acts as your body’s thermostat. When temperatures rise, sweat glands activate to cool the body down. “Sweating is a bodily function that helps regulate your body temperature,” Bank says. “Normal sweating can be as much as a quart of fluid per day.”
When temperatures are lower, blood vessels in the skin tighten and limit the amount of hot blood that can reach the skin, preventing heat loss. Pores also become smaller when exposed to colder temperatures in order to retain heat, Bank says.
4) Skin gets its color from a pigment called melanin. Skin color can range from very pale to very dark, depending on how much melanin the body makes. Everyone has the same amount of cells that produce melanin, which is made in the outer layer of the skin called the epidermis; but not everyone produces the same amount. The more melanin your body produces, the darker your skin.
5) Your skin regenerates itself. “Your skin sheds its dead skin cells on a daily basis, creating a new layer of skin every 28 days,” Bank says. “Even while you sleep, Mother Nature is doing her job by making sure your skin exfoliates itself, without your help.” That said, dead skin cells can remain on the skin, so it is important to remove them with an additional exfoliator.
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