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Skin and its Care
By Phyllis Naegeli
1 Did you know that the skin is the largest organ of the human body? Our skin is an amazing part of us. It is less than 2 millimeters thick, but within its three layers there is an unseen world.
2 The first layer, called the epidermis, starts with what we see on the surface. Most of this is either dead or dying cells, millions of which are rubbed off each day. During an average lifetime, up to 100 pounds of skin cells are shed. Also contained within this layer is keratin, a substance which makes our skin strong, flexible, and waterproof. Without it, we would be like a soggy, wet paper towel. The color of our skin is determined by melanin, a brown pigment found in the epidermis as well. The more melanin a person has, the darker their skin will be.
3 Under the epidermis, we find the dermis. Here are the sweat glands, hair follicles, blood vessels, nerves, and touch sensors. In one square inch of our skin, there are nearly twenty feet of blood vessels. Stretched out, they would be as long as three cars parked end to end. The sweat glands and hair follicles start here and travel all the way up through the epidermis to the outer layer of the skin. Sweat glands release sweat onto the skin's surface through tiny openings called pores to keep our bodies cool. Hair follicles have glands associated with them that make a natural oil called sebum. This oil helps to keep our skin soft and supple. Attached to hair follicles are tiny muscles that react to cold or a fright, making our hair stand on end and causing goose bumps.
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