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Top Ten Interesting and Fun Facts About Flaky Skin, Spots, Zits, Scabs, and Pimples

Updated on June 23, 2017
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Amanda is a retired educator with many years of experience teaching children of all ages and abilities in a wide range of contexts.

Skin diseases, infections and disorders can cause real embarrassment and discomfort to sufferers. Most can be treated and overcome. Someone with a skin problem should never be made the object of mockery and fun, but always treated with respect.
Skin diseases, infections and disorders can cause real embarrassment and discomfort to sufferers. Most can be treated and overcome. Someone with a skin problem should never be made the object of mockery and fun, but always treated with respect. | Source

Three Crazy Facts About Skin

You live in your skin, so maybe you think you know all there is to know about it, right? Well, let's see if you know any of these fun and interesting facts about skin, and then we'll take a look at some of the icky things that can go wrong with it.

Not many people realize that your skin is actually considered an organ - along with your heart, lungs, kidneys and all the rest.

Fact One

Your skin is the heaviest organ in your body.

But you might just be super surprised to find out that a human skin is also the heaviest organ in the body overall. Can you guess how much an average human skin weighs?

Well, a skin weighs in at anything between 4 and 9 pounds! (That's 2 to 4 kilograms).

That means your skin weighs about as much as a couple of bricks. How about that?

How Much Does Human Skin Weigh?

The average human skin weighs about as much as two clay bricks (round about nine pounds).
The average human skin weighs about as much as two clay bricks (round about nine pounds). | Source

How Much Skin Have You Got?

The answer is enough to make a small tablecloth with it if you were so inclined.

Fact Two

An average human has about as much skin as an elephant has in its ear.

The average human skin, if it was laid out flat on the ground, would make up a piece about two yards square.

If you didn't know that's just a touch smaller than an African Elephant's ears. They have an approximate diameter of 42 inches. And as far as I know, they don't get spots.

Human Skin Covers the Same Area as an Elephant's Ear

A human skin has an area of about two square yards, just a little bit smaller than an African Elephant's ear. Now you know.
A human skin has an area of about two square yards, just a little bit smaller than an African Elephant's ear. Now you know. | Source

Thick or Thin Skinned?

The thinnest skin on a human body is the skin covering the eyelids.
The thinnest skin on a human body is the skin covering the eyelids. | Source

Fact Three

The thickness of your skin varies in different parts of your body.

How Thick is Skin?

We've all heard the phrase "thick skinned" but how thick is a human skin on average?

The truth is, there's no simple answer. The thickness of a person's skin varies. It varies not only between different people (yes, some people really are thicker skinned than others!) but also between different parts of your body.

  • the soles of your feet might have skin up to 6 mm thick
  • your eyelids probably have the thinnest skin, measuring just 0.5 mm thick

Interestingly, skin responds to wear and tear. So, if you run and walk a lot (say, if you play a lot of sports) you will develop thicker skin on your feet than someone who just sits around all day.

The Evolution of Skin

Changing Your Skin

You maybe already know of several other animals that change their skins.

Snakes, lizards, and thousands of species of insects and spiders all "slough" their old skin every so often and emerge with a new skin that has grown beneath. It's a process known as "molting."

Fact Four

Shedding up to 40,000 skin cells every minute, you renew your whole skin once a month.

But did you know that you have already changed your own skin many, many times?

In humans skin change is a more gradual process than the whole-skin molting of other animals, but it does happen. Your skin cells dry out, flake and fall off at an approximate rate of 30 to 40,000 cells per minute. So, in effect, you are constantly shedding your skin.

The result of this process is the complete renewal of all your skin once every month or so.

If you gathered together all the skin that you'd shed in a typical year, you'd have enough to fill up a sizable cookie jar. How about that?

Common Skin Problems

Now we've had a look at some interesting and fun facts about skin itself, let’s take a look at some of the common skin conditions which can afflict any of us during our lives. We'll be looking at:

  • zits
  • blackheads
  • whiteheads
  • dandruff

And we'll also mention scabs. Scabs are a bit different because while they can be itchy and unpleasant, they are actually part of the body's natural healing process.

zit

zɪt/

noun / informal :a small, red, swollen spot on the skin

— Merriam Webster Dictionary

Bleeding Spot on Skin

Zits can sometimes burst and bleed at which point they may also become infected.
Zits can sometimes burst and bleed at which point they may also become infected. | Source

What Causes Zits?

You might have been told that zits are formed when a person eats and drinks too much fatty food and sugary stuff. A lot of people still think that, but the latest science suggests there's no direct link between diet and skin conditions.

Scientists now believe that zits are caused by changes or imbalances in hormones. And that's one reason why many teenagers suffer from zits and acne, because during that time of life there are significant hormonal changes taking place. The good news is that for most kids the problem clears up on its own as the hormones settle down.

Fact Five

Zits are caused by hormonal changes effecting sebum secreting glands and not by eating too much fat or sugar.

So a zit forms when hormones trigger the glands which produce "sebum" - a waxy, oily goo that normally helps protect the skin - to overproduce the substance, and it builds up into a blockage in the pores. These can then become infected. And that's what a zit is. So now you know.

Blackheads. A Common Skin Problem.

Blackheads are dried sebum pushed out of your pores by excess keratin.
Blackheads are dried sebum pushed out of your pores by excess keratin. | Source

What Causes Blackheads?

Blackheads are the little black spots that can appear especially around the nostrils and around the lips.

Fact Six

Blackheads are not a sign of poor hygiene. They are caused by hormonal changes. That's why they are so common in puberty.

There's a protein called keratin which the body uses to make hair. Did you know that you are as hairy as any ape? It's true, it's just that most of the hairs on your body are incredibly fine and short so you barely notice them. Sometimes, too much keratin is produced, and it builds up in your glands. Your body tries to get rid of the excess keratin by pushing it out through your pores (the little 'holes' in your skin's surface).

As it does that, the sebum is pushed out too and becomes exposed to the air. In those conditions the sebum hardens and turns black.

And that's what a blackhead is.

What's Under Your Skin?

There's a lot going on under your skin! The sebaceous gland (see if you can find it in the picture) is the cause of many skin problems including blackheads and whiteheads.
There's a lot going on under your skin! The sebaceous gland (see if you can find it in the picture) is the cause of many skin problems including blackheads and whiteheads. | Source

What Causes Whiteheads?

Whiteheads are caused in exactly the same way as blackheads or zits.

The difference is that in the case of a whitehead the sebum is pushed up but remains beneath the outer skin making it visible but not exposed to the air. Remember, it is exposure to the air that causes the sebum to harden and turn black. If it's not exposed it remains white in color.

Simple as that!

The Sebaceous Gland: Cause of All the Trouble.

Fact Seven

The sebaceous gland may be the cause of all the trouble when it is over-productive. But it can also be a problem if it doesn't produce enough. That can lead to dry, flaky skin and dandruff.

What are Pimples?

The word "pimple" can be used to describe almost any kind of spot or zit on the skin. However, it is most usually used to refer to a spot which has become infected, typically causing a reddened lump to appear.

Pimples can sometimes be itchy and painful. Mostly they will go away on their own as your body's natural immunity resolves the infection. In some severe cases a doctor might prescribe a course of antibiotics.

How Scabs Are Formed

What Are Scabs And How Do They Form?

Scabs are a natural part of the body's healing process.

When you cut or graze yourself your body acts quickly to stop the blood flow and heal the damaged skin.

Fact Eight

Scabs are there to protect you and help you heal. Picking at them can break the protective barrier and lead to infections. The itchy feeling is a sign that the wound is getting better.

Special blood cells called 'platelets' rush to the site of the lesion and start thickening the blood. We call this process "clotting." Once the blood is thickened and clotted, the body directs over sixteen different chemical substances to the site of the wound. These interact to form different layers of protection.

The outer layer is the hard, crusty surface that we usually think of as a scab. Underneath that, white blood cells get to work to combat any bacteria that may have infected the area.

All of this can begin to happen very fast, even as little as ten seconds after you cut yourself.

A Scab Forming On a Grazed Elbow

Scabs are a part of the bodies defense mechanisms, protecting you from infection and disease if your skin is broken.
Scabs are a part of the bodies defense mechanisms, protecting you from infection and disease if your skin is broken. | Source

What Causes Flaky Skin and Dandruff?

We've seen that most spots, zits and pimples are caused by hormonal changes leading to the over or underproduction of sebum. Flaky skin and dandruff usually have a different cause.

Fact Nine

Dandruff is caused by bacteria and fungi that eat up the natural oils on your skin.

The usual cause of persistent flaky skin or dandruff is a fungal infection. There are many tiny microbial organisms that live on our skin. Most of the time, they are useful. Many of the species responsible for causing dandruff normally help to keep the natural balance of oils in the skin right by eating up any excess.

A Flake of Dandruff Close Up

Dandruff is composed of flakes of dry skin. Shedding skin is normal, but in some cases can become excessive to the point that it requires medical treatment.
Dandruff is composed of flakes of dry skin. Shedding skin is normal, but in some cases can become excessive to the point that it requires medical treatment. | Source

Unfortunately, sometimes the balance goes wrong and the organisms get out of hand.

That can leave your skin very dry and lead to such large numbers of flakes being shed that it becomes visible as a dusting of white on your clothes.

The only truly effective way to treat persistent dandruff and flaky skin is with a medicated shampoo or dermatological cream from your doctor or drugstore.

And that nearly brings us to the end of our exploration of flaky skin, zits, spots and pimples. But before we finish up...

What is a Beauty Spot?

A so-called 'Beauty Spot' is a small mole, usually on the cheek, chin or the upper lip, which is considered enhancing to the attractiveness of the person sporting it.

A 'mole' in this context isn't a subterranean mammal with a passion for mound building and eating worms, it is a small, colored spot composed of a type of skin cell called a melanocyte. These cells are responsible for releasing the pigment which controls the color of your skin. When lots accumulate together, they often show up as a small, brown spot.

Fact Ten

The 'beauty spot' was so highly prized in the 18th century, that ladies would paint one on their cheek or upper lip if they didn't have one naturally!

No-one knows why they're considered beautiful, but they are. And that's a fact!

Thanks for reading and I hope you've enjoyed finding out about skin and spots. If you'd like to leave a comment or ask a question, go right ahead - I'd love to hear from you! And as sharing is caring, feel free to share the article on your social media so that your friends can enjoy it, too.

© 2016 Amanda Littlejohn

I love to hear from my readers and I always reply!

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    • stuff4kids profile image
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      Amanda Littlejohn 17 months ago

      Hi AliciaC!

      Thank you so much for your comment. Sorry it has taken me so long to reply, but I have only just received my notifications. Seems there was a glitch on some hubs.

      I'm so glad you found the article about spots interesting and not too off-putting! :)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 20 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an informative article, Amanda. It's also very interesting!

    • stuff4kids profile image
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      Amanda Littlejohn 20 months ago

      Hi Shelley!

      Thank you so much for sharing it and for your kind words. I hope a lot of people get to enjoy it.

      Bless you :)

    • stuff4kids profile image
      Author

      Amanda Littlejohn 20 months ago

      Hi Joyette,

      Thanks for reading and for your kind comments. I will consider a follow up. However, aside from dandruff which is best treated with a commercial antifungal shampoo, most of these things - because they are the result of natural hormonal changes - are best left alone and 99% of the time will go away on their own in time.

      Thanks again and bless you :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 20 months ago from USA

      This one's going to be popular! Sharing, pinning and G+ing for you.

    • Joyette  Fabien profile image

      Joyette Fabien 20 months ago from Dominica

      This is quite interesting and informative! Would you be able to write a follow up hub on effective remedies for these problems?