What Our Skin Does For Us
Our skin is an amazing organ that serves several very important functions when it comes to our body’s health. Our skin protects our body from damage from outside elements, regulates our body temperature, fights disease and infection, and is a waterproof barrier. Skin also makes Vitamin D. Since the nerve endings in your skin are extremely sensitive your skin is always the first to feel changes in temperature, pressure, and pain.
Lastly, our skin reflects both our moods and internal health.
Skin Is Our Largest Organ
Our skin is actually our body’s largest organ and accounts for 15% of your body weight. The average adult’s skin weighs about 9 pounds, spans 21 square feet, and contains 11 miles of blood vessels. Our skin is thinnest on our eyelids and thickest on the sole of our feet. At birth, our skin is 1 mm thick and 2-3 mm thick by adulthood. Fetuses only develop fingerprints at about 3 months of gestation.
What Our Skin Contains
In just 1 inch of skin you have:
- 19 million skin cells
- 650 sweat glands
- 20 blood vessels
- 1,000 or more nerve endings
Your skin sheds between 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells every minute. Dust is partly made up of dead skin cells. Millions of harmless bacteria live on the surface of the skin.
Layers of the Skin
The epidermis is the top layer of your skin and the part of your skin that you actually see, wash, and take care of each day. New skin cells form at the very bottom of this layer and travel up to the very top. The epidermis also has special immune cells which help protect your body from disease.
The dermis is the second layer of the skin. This layer has many important jobs. Sweat glands are contained in the dermis; sweat glands help keep you cool. Nerve endings are found in the dermis. They send signals to the brain, so you know if something hurts or feels good on your body. The roots of your hair are found in the dermis. Each hair root is attached to a muscle that tightens when you are scared or cold. This is what causes goosebumps. The dermis also contains oil glands and blood vessels. The oil in oil glands helps to keep your skin smooth, soft, and waterproof. Blood feeds your skin and takes away harmful elements that can hurt both your skin and health.
The subcutaneous layer is the bottom layer of the skin. This layer is made up of fat. The subcutaneous layer attaches the dermis skin layer to your bones and muscles. Nerve endings and blood vessels that start in the dermis layer continue down through this layer of the skin. Since this layer of the skin is made up of fat, it protects your body from bumps and falls. Finally, this layer of the skin helps regulate your body’s temperature, so you do not get too hot or too cold.
How Your Skin Gets Its Color
Skin color comes from a protein called melanin which makes up around 7% of our skin cells. These cells are called melanocytes and are found in the epidermis. Everyone actually has the same number of melanocytes. Our skin color and tone is caused by the amount of melanin these cells produce. How much melanin your skin produces is genetically determined. The more melanin these cells produce, the darker your skin color.
Melanin is also responsible for our skin getting tan or burning. When you go outside in the sun, our skin produces more melanin to guard us against the harmful rays of the sun. Melanin is also responsible for eye color.