Your skin protects you from ultraviolet radiation, bacteria, toxic chemicals, and tissue damage caused by physical impact from the surrounding environment. During strenuous exercise your body can produce enough heat to boil several cups of coffee. The 2 to 5 million sweat glands and capillary beds in your skin are responsible for cooling you down. Your skin breathes oxygen.
Resembling roof tiles, your tightly overlapping skin cells create a waterproof seal. It senses the wind direction and the movement of a bug on the skin via 5 million hair follicles. It removes toxins from metabolic waste and other ingested or absorbed substances. It synthesizes proteins and Vitamin D, which is crucial for mineral metabolism. It's 5 million touch receptors provide many sensations. These sensations can bring two people emotionally closer through intimate human interaction, or can cause a protective reflex when burned. Your skin is your body's vessel.
Your skin has an incredible ability to heal equal only to your liver and mucous membranes. From a single cut, around 106 blood vessels are severed. Quickly, tiny cells in the blood called platelets latch together forming a clot that plugs the severed vessels. Threads of protein and collagen form a tight mesh trapping blood cells within the damaged area. This combination of mesh and blood cells forms a protective scab over the wound. The scab contracts as new skin grows underneath. The scab falls off leaving a new strip of skin. The only trace of previous damage is the slight discoloration of the new skin.
Use a sun block with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 when exposing your skin to the sun. Any outdoor activity for which you wear shorts and t-shirts or less puts you at risk for ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet radiation causes wrinkles, skin cancer and accelerates the aging process. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer known to man. Girls, if you want to have beautiful skin for a long time, use a skin moisturizer that doubles as a sunscreen. They're not as thick as regular sunscreen, don't clog pores and come unscented. Men before shaving soften your skin with soap and WARM water. Follow the growth of the beard. Don't shave against the grain. This way you can avoid uncomfortable ingrown hairs, which resemble pimples.
Do not suntan or go to tanning booths or you will look like a leathery John Rivers by the time you're 22.
Be aware of your skin's normal features. If you notice a mole that changes texture, or grows larger, darker or more irregular, have your doctor check it out for skin cancer. Do the same for sores that don't heal or persistently reoccur.
Splinter? If the splinter has not drawn blood, there is no need to visit the emergency room. Grab some Scotch tape and apply it to the splinter and surrounding skin. Press it firmly against the skin to insure it is adhered to the splinter. Slowly pull off the tape. This theoretically should pull out the splinter. If it doesn't, maybe duck tape will. If that doesn't, resort to good old fashion tweezers. When using tweezers, be careful to pull the splinter out in the opposite direction as it went in, in order to avoid breaking off the end. If these techniques fail miserably, don't worry. Your skin is constantly generating new skin cells. Your body sheds 500 million dead skin cells a day. In less than a week, the movement of new skin cells toward the surface will push the splinter to the surface as well.
For information on a long list of skin conditions, their prevention and treatment read our Appearance: Skin page.
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(For information on a long list of skin conditions, their prevention and treatment as well as piercing and other issues read this section.)