More money in the cosmetics industry goes on lotions and potions to protect and improve our skin quality than anything else.
Our skin is also the source of common problems such as dryness and itching as well as more serious conditions such as eczema.
Here are just a few facts about skin – the stuff that covers your body that may surprise you.
If you have ever wondered what the largest organ in the body is, it’s the skin. Take it all off and the average layer will cover about 2 square metres in total. One of the most fascinating facts about skin is that it accounts for about 15% of the average person’s body weight.
Hairy vs Glabrous Skin
You have two types of skin intermingled over the surface of your body. The first has hairs and is characterised by a thin epidermis with sebaceous glands. The second is glabrous or hairless skin which has a thicker epidermis and contains sweat glands.
The skin has three layers, namely the top epidermis which consists of dead cells and a waterproof layer, the dermis which contains your hair follicles and sweat glands, and, below that, the subcutis which is made up of fat and blood vessels.
Skin is Stretchy
As anyone who’s put on a few pounds has found, the skin stretches. In fact, your skin has just the right amount of stretchiness depending on where it is located on the body. The thinnest layer of skin is found on your eyelid.
Whether you love it or loathe it, body hair is an important part of the skin. A hair can last from between 2 and 6 years and we lose, on average, 20 to a 100 a day. If you want to know how the hair on your arms stands up in cold weather, that’s because each follicle has a small muscle or pili that reacts to emotional and external temperature.
The skin cells on our body are constantly dying off and being replaced by new ones. The dust in the average home is made up of about 50% dead skin cells. In fact, every minute your body will shed some 30,000 skin cells.
The Skin Eco-System
You won’t be surprised to learn that bacteria live on your skin. The average person is covered by billions at any one time. The skin between your toes can also attract 14 different types of fungus.
Acne is caused when you have too many cells lining the sweat glands. It affects women (1 in 20) more than men (1 in 100) and is the bane of nearly every teenagers life (4 out of 5).
Skin and Vitamins
We all know that vitamins are good for the complexion. Here’s a quick run-down:
- Vitamin A: Found in carrots, it helps repair sun damage and has some effect on the development of cellulite.
- Vitamin D: Found in oily fish, it’s good for reducing spots and blemishes.
- Vitamin C: Found in citrus fruits, it is a strong antioxidant, works with vitamin E and protects against the sun.
- Vitamin E: Found in foods like peanuts, it has antioxidant properties and can help ward off the signs of ageing.
If you’re a fan of crime programmes, you might be surprised to learn that some people don’t have fingerprints. Two genetic conditions, Naegeli syndrome and dermatopathia pigmentosa reticularis, mean sufferers don’t develop the tell-tale ridges on the their fingertips.