Myths and facts about your skin

How well do you know your own skin? There are many myths and facts associated with our outer layer, so today, we delve deep beneath the surface to learn about the skin we’re in.

How much skin do you shed each year?
On top of our skin lay dead skin cells and, believe it or not, we shed around 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells each day. That adds up to over 4kg of skin cells each year! Never fear, though, they’ll grow back.

Eating carrots can turn your skin orange
It’s true! Beta-carotene is responsible for the orange colour in carrots. If you eat too many carrots, particularly if you juice and drink them, you’ll turn orange, too.

Why does being in water too long make your skin wrinkly?
Sitting in a bath, pool or in the sea too long will eventually wash the oil from your skin. Once that’s gone, your skin soaks up water and turns wrinkly, rather like a prune. Evidently your body thinks that because you’re wet the wrinkles will give you more traction, making it easier for you to pick things up. Go figure…

Is your skin your largest organ?
Contrary to popular misconceptions that the brain or liver is your largest organ, your skin, when stretched out flat, would weigh around 4kg and cover an area of 180cm x 180cm. Every section of your skin contains sweat and oil glands, nerve endings and blood vessels, so it’s a very complex organ. Considering it regulates our temperature, protects our muscles, bones, nerves, internal organs and pretty much holds us all in one piece, the skin is little wonder (or a large wonder!)

Only fair-skinned people get sunburnt
This is not exactly true. Darker skin contains more melanin, which is a pigment that protects your skin from the sun. Although sunburn may not show up as much on darker skinned people, they can still burn and get skin cancer.

Where are you most thick-skinned?
On most parts of your body, your skin is about the thickness of paper, with the thinnest skin on your eyelids and the thickest on the soles of your feet.

Your dead skin can save the planet
Well, not exactly. But all that skin you shed turns into dust; the oils in this dust can soak up indoor air pollution making the air you breathe a little bit cleaner.

Should you worry about skin tags?
The short answer is: no. Skin tags occur mainly where your skin rubs on clothing, body folds and jewellery. Your doctor can remove them but, unless you keep snagging them on things, they are of no danger to your health.

What causes pimples?
Most people think that greasy food and stress can cause pimples, but it’s mainly your hormones that cause zits. You would think that you’d leave pimples behind in your teenage years, but hormone changes can take place well into your 40s and 50s – sometimes beyond. It’s worth noting that make-up and medicines can cause pimples, too.

Read more about your skin at WebMD

Did any of these skin facts surprise you? Do you have any skin myths or facts of your own?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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