Top Ten Interesting and Fun Facts About Flaky Skin, Spots, Zits, Scabs, and Pimples
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.
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?
How Much Skin Have You Got?
The answer is enough to make a small tablecloth with it if you were so inclined.
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
Thick or Thin Skinned?
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."
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:
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.
noun / informal :a small, red, swollen spot on the skin— Merriam Webster Dictionary
Bleeding Spot on Skin
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.
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.
What Causes Blackheads?
Blackheads are the little black spots that can appear especially around the nostrils and around the lips.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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