11 Amazing Facts about Your Skin

African-american woman looking in the mirrorConsidering that it covers virtually our entire body, our skin is pretty important. But you probably don’t know just how amazing your skin really is—take a look at these 11 incredible facts about human skin.

  1. At a weight of about eight pounds and an area of some 22 square feet, skin is the largest organ of the human body.
  2. The outer layer of the skin (called the epidermis) employs spy cells called Langerhans cells, which alert the immune system to harmful viruses and other germs—which is good, because our skin is home to about 1,000 species of bacteria!
  3. Because the human body is made up of about 60 percent water, without our skin, we would literally evaporate.
  4. Our skin color is determined by the amount of a pigment called melanin, which protects us from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Dark-skinned people originally came from more tropical regions, while those with the fairest complexions were once native to northern regions that see less sun.
  5. Goosebumps appear when we’re cold or feeling a strong emotion. This is because our muscles are tensed, causing our pores to protrude outward instead of inward.
  6. When we scratch an itch, the pain caused by scratching temporarily blocks the nerve signals to the brain that were causing the itch.
  7. You skin varies in thickness depending on the job of the body part it covers. The thinnest skin is around the eyes, at 0.05mm, while the thickest, found on the soles of the feet, is 23 times thicker at 1.5mm.
  8. Every minute, you lose between 30,000 and 40,000 skin cells (that’s about nine pounds in a year)! Your skin is constantly making new cells deep inside, moving them up toward the surface to replace those that are lost.
  9. Scars only form when there’s damage to the second layer of skin, called the dermis. This is because scar collagen is different from “normal” collagen, and isn’t shed and replaced.
  10. About half of household dust is made up of dead skin cells (yuck!), and the dust found in the Earth’s atmosphere is believed to contain about one billion tons of human skin cells.
  11. You have over 11 miles of blood vessels just in your skin—more than twice the height of Mount Everest.