Your skin does a lot of work to protect you. Are you doing enough to protect it? NBC Learn, in partnernship with Centene Corporation, takes a look at the amazing work your skin does and the best way to keep it functioning at its best.
Get Healthy -- Skin
MORGAN RADFORD reporting:
Hey there guys, I'm Morgan Radford and it's time to get healthy!
Can you guess which one of your organs is the largest? Are you thinking your brain? Maybe your lungs? Your stomach? Nope. It's actually your skin. Think about it. It covers your entire body. That means it weighs 20 pounds on an average sized adult. That's the same as a car tire.
And you can't tell by looking at it, but your skin is always hard at work. It sheds parts of itself every single day, and that’s enough to give you a whole new layer every single month.
Dr. GLORIA WILDER: I'm Dr. Gloria Wilder. I am president and CEO of Core Health and Wellness Centers and I'm also vice president of innovation and preventive health for Centene Corporation. Skin of course covers the entire body. And the number one purpose that it serves is to protect us from the elements.
RADFORD: Your skin stops sun, cold and nasty things in the environment from getting inside. And did you know it also helps keep your body from overheating? That's why it sweats. It can also warn your brain about certain dangers, like the heat it feels when your hand is too close to a stove, or the chill it sends to your brain if your hand is in ice for too long. But to do all of that protecting, your skin has to be much more than just what you see.
WILDER: There are three layers of the skin, all right. The layer that you see on the outside is called the epidermis, and then right underneath it is the dermis. The dermis is the part of your skin that carries the blood supply. And then the innermost part of the skin is the subcutaneous tissue, right, also known as your fat, and again, it's to protect you.
RADFORD: Your skin does so much to protect you. You have to do your share to protect it, too. One of the most important things is keeping your skin from getting too much sun.
WILDER: In summer times we're all used to people saying, “Wear your sunscreen. Wear your sunblock.” Right? But it's true. The sun has something called UV rays that can get to the skin and cause things like changes in the cells of that outer part of the skin.
RADFORD: Have you heard of melanin? It's a natural chemical in everybody's skin. It can be reddish-yellow to a dark brown, depending on your skin's color. One of its jobs is to shield your body from sun damage. When that melanin gets overworked by too much sun, your skin actually makes more. And that causes your skin to change color, otherwise known as a sunburn. It doesn't matter what color your skin is, it can burn. And every single time you get a burn, you’re hurting skin cells. That could lead to skin cancer, and no one wants that. But what about the winter? You need more protection when the weather turns cold.
WILDER: It's important to wear layers of clothes to protect your skin. Frostbite is something that happens to the skin when you're outside for too long and the temperature is too cold. So remember, kids, to wear your gloves, right.
RADFORD: On extra cold days, Dr. Wilder says to wear mittens. They can keep your hands warmer than gloves with fingers. Skin can also get really dry in the winter.
WILDER: It's important to use a moisturizer on your skin. And a moisturizer is a big old word for lotion. It doesn't have to be expensive, right, in fact, some of the least expensive products kind of worked the best, right?
RADFORD: So here are some tips you can do to take care of your skin. Number one is to wear sunscreen. That means everyone, and all year long. You need it in the winter as well as in the summer. And don't be fooled by an overcast day. You can still damage your skin that way. Also, wash your skin daily, especially your face. It will help wash away dead skin cells and germs, and not washing your face can lead to irritated skin and pimples. And be sure to drink a lot of water. Your skin cells are alive, and those cells need that water to stay alive. So, do your skin a favor and take care of it since it takes such good care of you.