Did you know that your skin weighs about ten pounds? That it’s the largest organ our body has? Read on!
24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones [a nod to yesterday’s topic].
As we continue our look at the beauty and design of our human bodies, we look at our skin.
From, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body,” pages 59-64.
You have perhaps heard that “beauty is more than skin deep.” While that is certainly true, the skin itself is beautiful and tells us a lot about people. For example, we recognize one another mostly by the skin on our face…and [our skin] covers the entire surface of our body, including our eyes, where the skin covering is conveniently transparent.
Skin is generally classified as thick skin (on the palms and soles) and thin skin (on the rest of our body). With callouses, thick skin can reach thicknesses of nearly half an inch. Thin skin varies in thickness from about 0.5 mm on the eyelid to about 2mm on the back (1 mm is about the thickness of a dime). Skin is made up of three major layers called the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. Each of these layers serves its own vitally important functions.
Epidermis–The body’s “miracle wrap”
On the surface of our bodies is a thin layer of dead cells less than the thickness of shrink wrap. These tightly welded cells serve as an extremely effective first line of defense against the outside world. Each cell is tightly attached to its neighbors on top and bottom by over a hundred little “spot welds” called desmosomes. This tight bond is necessary for the dead layer to resist wear and tear. Below this layer are specialized cells that continually replenish the lining of dead cells.
Dermis–The body’s leather
The second layer of our body armor is the dermis, made of tough collagen fibers. These fibers are woven together like fabric to keep our skin strong and flexible (much like a double-knit fabric). This layer also houses a network of small blood vessels and sweat glands that keep our body temperature constant despite the changing extremes of the outside world. Under control of the brain, blood is diverted to fill these capillaries and dissipate heat. The regulation of heat is further aided by sweat glands that pass through both the dermis and epidermis. We have about three million sweat glands in our skin that can secrete up to about three quarts of sweat per hour. Sweat, which is largely water, evaporates off the surface of our skin, giving a cooling effect.
Hypodermis–backup and support
The third layer of our body armor provides backup and support. Here body fat is stored (at immense variances of thickness) for energy, sweat glands produce sweat, and hair grows. Strands of collagen pass through the fat of the hypodermis, anchoring the skin to underlying muscle and bone, limiting the mobility of our skin.
As we grow old, our skin loses its collagen, thus losing its stretchiness. We also tend to lose fat in our hypodermis layers, thus revealing bone structure. Don’t worry; God has new bodies awaiting us in His kingdom.
Tomorrow: Melanin–Umbrellas of Our Skin
Abba, I know that we set store by what we look like on the outside, but You set store by what’s on the inside of us, what is in our hearts and minds (1 Samuel 16:7). Right now, it’s very difficult to know people by looking at them. In heaven, could it be that we will wear who we are on the outside so that everyone will inherently know us when they meet us? There would be no strangers in heaven! I envision it that way, Lord. No more lying or deceiving–nor will we want to. It’s gonna be awesome! Amen.