Aug 20, 2014 by Smart Insurance
Many people take their skin for granted, at least until it starts causing problems. Few people pay it too much attention. However, the skin is a fascinating part of the human body, as these interesting (and sometimes downright strange) facts demonstrate.
The average adult human being has around two square metres of skin; it is the largest organ in the human body. Skin accounts for approximately 15% of bodyweight and fulfils a range of functions including temperature control and protection of the internal organs. Skin contains around 45 miles of nerves and 11 miles of blood vessel.
The thickness of skin varies widely according to its location on the body. The thinnest skin is found on the eyelids and the thickest on the soles of the feet. Skin also varies in its ability to flex and stretch: it can do this better in some body areas (e.g. the knuckles of the hands and feet) than in others (e.g. the scalp).
It is important to look after skin by keeping it clean and hydrated. However, this must be done with care: the outer layer of skin is kept moist by natural fats called lipids, but the use of detergents (soaps) and alcohol (such as those found in some cosmetic products) can destroy those lipids and leave the skin vulnerable. Adding moisture can help to protect the skin and keep it looking its best.
As most people know, prolonged sun exposure can cause severe skin damage, including skin cancer, and premature ageing.
To thrive, skin needs certain vitamins that are ingested from food. In particular, it needs vitamin A (which helps to combat sun damage), vitamin D, vitamin C and vitamin E (which protects against sun damage and ageing).
Every person sheds around 30,000 dead skins cells every minute of every day, and the entire body of skin renews itself around once a month.
The human skin is home to around a thousand species of bacteria.
Scientists have recently re-programmed human skin cells to become fully functional liver cells, bringing hope that this may ultimately offer an alternative to liver transplants.
It can take six months for a baby to develop its final skin tone.
'Smart skin', a stretchy skin patch containing specialist sensors, may soon be used by doctors to monitor health and deliver time-sensitive medications precisely when the body needs it. Other medical care is already being delivered using microchips that are inserted under the top layer of skin (rather like identity chips in domestic pets!)
Dead skin accounts for around one billion tonnes of the dust in the atmosphere and a considerable proportion of dust in the home.
In the UK, around one in five people has chosen to decorate their skin with at least one tattoo. In Japan, there are records of tattooing having been carried out at least as early as 5,000 BC.
Piercing is another common form of skin decoration. The world's most pierced man is Rolf Buchholz from Germany, who has more than 450 piercings.