You might think that with a mirror, a tape measure and a calculator, you can guess the amount of skin you have before the end of this sentence. But by the time this sentence is over, you will have shed about 120,000 dead skin cells without even noticing.
Don’t be offended, you’ve got a thick skin! In fact, we all do! Can you guess how much your skin weighs? Or how far it can stretch? Did you know your skin is your body’s largest organ?
You might say you know your skin like the back of your hand, but there’s much more than meets the eye. All you’re really seeing is the epidermis, the skin’s outer layer that determines your skin tone, prevents infection, and produces new skin cells to replace dead ones.
Below this thin surface layer, is the dermis, where your touch receptors, blood vessels, sweat glands and hair follicles live. And below the dermis is a thick layer of subcutaneous tissue, also known as the hypodermis.
The hypodermis is not considered true skin, since most of it is fat keeping you warm and protecting your internal organs.
But this subcutaneous tissue helps to bind your dermis and epidermis to your bones and organs. So while the hypodermis might not be ‘true skin,’ would we have any skin without it? The truth is, we’re losing skin all the time. In fact, we shed about 40,000 skin cells every minute! But it’s no skin off your back, because your skin regenerates almost as quickly.
Your skin fully renews itself every 35 days. So by the time you’re 20 years old, you’ll have gone through about 200 custom tailored suits. But, hold on, if we’re constantly shedding skin, how come we never see it? Where does it all go?
Well, unlike snakes, who shed all of their skin in one piece, ours falls from our bodies in small bits. And we actually do see it. Some sources estimate that more than half of the dust in your home is actually dead skin. And on a global scale, dead skin adds up to about 1 billion tons of dust floating in the Earth’s atmosphere.”
Did your vacuum just become your new best friend? Yup, thought so.
We’ve got a lot more skin than we could ever imagine. Who cares about losing 40,000 skin cells per minute, when every square cm of your body has about 3 million of them?
The average adult has roughly 4 kg of skin, which, if you rolled it out like a carpet, would cover about 2 sq metres.
And if you multiply that number for each of the 7.6 billion humans on this earth, you’ve got more than enough skin to cover the entire surface of the Bahamas.
But regardless of our skin’s size, its function is several times greater.
Our skin is a living, breathing shield that protects us from impacts, infections, and nature’s elements. Skin insulates us from cold temperatures, and defends us against ultra-violet rays and dangerous chemicals. Our skin produces sebum, an oily substance which coats our exterior to keep bacteria from settling on our skin. It also produces vitamin D, which helps turn calcium into healthy bones.
When we take stock of our vital organs, the brain, the heart and the lungs often top the list. And while their importance can’t be understated, you should know that without skin, we’d literally evaporate…
So give yourself a pat on the back, and congratulate your skin for keeping you safe. And if you’re wondering how you can return the favor, it’s pretty easy. Moisturize, wear sunscreen, clean out your pores.