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Discovery Magazine 6/1/1997

A Sketch of Skin

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

Here’s an interesting question. Where can you find the following things: 19 million cells, 625 sweat glands, 90 oil glands, 65 hairs, 19 feet of blood vessels, and 19,000 sensory cells? The answer: in one square inch of human skin!

How amazing our skin is. If the skin from an adult man were considered as one large body organ, it would weigh over six pounds, and would cover an area of 20 square feet. Skin has many functions. It prevents the body from losing, or gaining, too much water. It soaks up rays from the Sun, and helps keep our bodies at a constant temperature. It stops germs from getting inside our system, and it acts as a "feeler" to communicate with the brain. Skin tells the brain if something is hot, cold, or lukewarm.

Sometimes the skin is tickled and gives us "goose bumps." Sometimes it alerts us to pain. And sometimes it acts funny and starts itching. If the skin is broken or cut, the body rushes to repair it. Blood cells around the cut clot, and prevent too much blood and body fluid from being lost. The skin also has the ability to secrete certain substances that can help kill germs.

If we get too hot, sweat glands all over the body can produce from 2 quarts to over 2 gallons of perspiration (pur-spa-RAY-shun) in a single day. When the wind blows across the skin, the sweat evaporates (eh-VAP-uh-rates) and cools the body. Skin cells die as they get old, but new ones always are being "born" to replace them. By the time we are 70, we will have lost about 40 pounds of skin!

Some people think skin just "evolved." One writer said, "The skin is a miracle of evolutionary engineering: it water-proofs the body, blocks out and destroys harmful bacteria, regulates temperature, and continuously communicates with the brain."* Yes, the skin is a "miracle" alright—but not a miracle of evolution. And yes, the skin was "engineered"—but the Engineer was God!

*Marc McCutcheon, (1989), The Compass in Your Nose (Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher), p. 113.

Copyright © 1997 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

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