Four totally unrelated (and surprising facts) about the skin
(1) The skin surface is not flat. It contains about 5 million apertures such as hair follicles and sweat and sebaceous glands (also known as skin appendages). Why is this important? Well, these structures create openings to the environment and therefore significantly increase the area of the skin exposed to it. If the skin was flat we would have about 2 square meters of it. Instead, it has been calculated that about 30 square meters of skin are indirectly exposed to the environment. Thus, we have to make sure that we clean and hydrate all our skin every day !
(2) Skin microbiome is not only located on the surface of the skin. Studies using a technique called in-situ hybridization indicated that microbial components are inside of skin appendages even below the basement membrane. What does this mean? It means 2 things: (1) contrary to what we thought the microbiome is present below the dermis (it does not mean we have live bacteria there but some of their components such as DNA or RNA) and (2) the skin surface of these appendages is not directly exposed to the environment but instead to their own microbiome layer. With this information we can infer that the known skin microbiome functions are only the tip of the iceberg and we will see much more in the coming years.
(3) Different body areas have different levels of natural hydration. For example, the chest and back are more hydrated toward the neck. On the contrary, areas around the knees and elbows exhibit lower levels of hydration. It has been suggested that areas under greater mechanical wear and environmental exposure naturally have a lower normal skin hydration. Why is this important? Although I am a firm believer that body skincare must be done daily, if you do not agree with me at least make sure that these dry areas are moisturized at least twice daily.
(4) Body odor (BO) is genetically determined by a gene called ABCC11. This gene encodes for an apical efflux pump, a protein that transports crucial molecules across the membrane, that is key for both BO and wet earwax formation. Interestingly, a single mutation prevents the secretion of odorants and therefore BO formation. This mutation is present in most of the Asian (80-90%) and in only 2% of European populations. On the contrary, people with wet earwax and BO have the normal version of ABCC11.
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