Understanding your skin – Skin Facts

1. Skin is the largest organ of the body (8-10 lb or 3.6-4.5 kg). It undergoes very active cell regeneration (grow & die). Uniquely, it prevents fluid loss, absorbs and excretes various substances on an ‘as required’ basis (e.g. sweat, lubricating oils, toxins, ultra-violet light stimulates vitamin D synthesis) and has a high network of blood vessels (11 mi or 17.7 km) and nerves (45 miles or 72.4 km).

2. The skin has a very large surface area (22 square feet or 2 square meters) that acts to waterproof, insulate and guard the body against extreme temperatures, sunlight irradiation and harmful chemicals in the form of liquids, solids or gas. The skin’s unique elasticity allows stretching and contracting to allow us free movement in our environment.

3. Human skin regenerates itself, forming a shield of new outer skin cells every 4 to 5 weeks. The average human has 1.5 billion skin cells or 473,485 skin cells on every square inch of body (75,000 skin cells per square centimeter). The skin sheds 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells every minute or 1.8 to 2.4 million cells every 24 hours. In a lifetime you will shed your skin about 1,000 times. Skin shedding is equivalent of 8.8 lb (4 kg) every year that adds to house dust.

4. Skin is a large sensory organ. It is packed with nerves that communicate with the brain, informing the body of various stimuli such as temperature, humidity, irradiation and gaseous environments to which it is exposed.

5. At birth a baby’s skin is neutral acid/base balance (pH7) and quickly changes to acidic nature. Normal skin is slightly acidic with a pH ranging from 4.5 to 6.0. This skin acidity protects against bacterial attachment and potential infection. As we age, skin pH becomes more neutral, losing its anti-bacterial properties. Most soaps are alkaline (pH+7) which removes the protective barrier of the skin.

6. In one year, you’ll shed over 8 pounds of dead skin! In fact, what you see on your body is dead skin waiting to be sloughed off while the living cells do their functions underneath.

7. Our skin has it’s own microbiome, with over 1000 species of tiny creatures cohabiting our outer shell.

8. Your body works best at 98° Fahrenheit. When we get overheated, our bodies need to lose heat. Our skin helps us lose heat by expanding the blood vessels in the skin to let heat escape. It also helps by pouring on the sweat.

9. Every square inch of skin contains 20 feet of blood vessels. Tissue the size of a pinhead contains 2,000 to 3,000 capillaries. You certainly have plenty of blood to fill all that space; you have 2.5 trillion red blood cells, more or less, in your body at any given moment, and your bone marrow creates 100 billion new ones every single day.

10. Not all wrinkles are the same; there are static and dynamic wrinkles. Dynamic wrinkles appear over time with consistent muscle and skin contractions. Those lines running from your nose down the side of your cheek are dynamic wrinkles as a result of smiling. (But it’s healthier to smile than worry about smile lines!) Static wrinkles are those that an individual owes to genetic traits, environmental factors, lifestyle habits (smoking) or aging naturally.