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Health Information For Teens
Skin, our largest organ, has many jobs. It:
Without the nerve cells in skin, people couldn’t feel warmth, cold, or other sensations.
Every square inch of skin contains thousands of cells and hundreds of sweat glands, oil glands, nerve endings, and blood vessels.
Skin has three layers: the epidermis (pronounced: ep-ih-DUR-mis), dermis (pronounced: DUR-mis), and the subcutaneous (pronounced: sub-kyoo-TAY-nee-us) tissue.
The epidermis is the upper layer of skin. This tough, protective outer layer is thin in some areas and thick in others. The epidermis has layers of cells that constantly flake off and are renewed. In these layers are three special types of cells:
Because the cells in the epidermis are completely replaced about every 28 days, cuts and scrapes heal quickly.
Below the epidermis is the dermis. This is where our blood vessels, nerve endings, sweat glands, and hair follicles are. The dermis nourishes the epidermis. Two types of fibers in the dermis — collagen and elastin — help skin stretch and stay firm.
The dermis also contains a person’s sebaceous (pronounced: sih-BAY-shiss) glands. These glands make the oil sebum (pronounced: SEE-bum), which softens the skin and makes it waterproof.
The bottom layer of skin is the subcutaneous (pronounced: sub-kyuh-TAY-nee-iss) tissue. It’s made of
, blood vessels, and cells that store fat. This layer helps protect the body from blows and other injuries and helps hold in body heat.
The hair on our heads doesn’t just look nice. It keeps us warm by preserving heat.
Hair in the nose, ears, and around the eyes protects these sensitive areas from dust and other small particles. Eyebrows and eyelashes protect eyes by decreasing the amount of light and particles that go into them.
The fine hair that covers the body provides warmth and protects the skin.
Human hair consists of:
At the bottom of the follicle is the papilla (pronounced: puh-PILL-uh), where the actual hair growth happens. The papilla contains an artery that nourishes the root of the hair. As cells multiply and make keratin to harden the structure, they’re pushed up the follicle and through the skin’s surface as a shaft of hair.
Each hair has three layers:
Hair grows by forming new cells at the base of the root. These cells multiply to form a rod of tissue in the skin. The rods of cells move upward through the skin as new cells form beneath them. As they move up, they’re cut off from their supply of nourishment and start to form a hard protein called keratin. This process is called keratinization (pronounced: ker-uh-tuh-nuh-ZAY-shun). As this happens, the hair cells die. The dead cells and keratin form the shaft of the hair.
Hair grows all over the human body except the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and lips. Hair grows faster in summer than winter, and slower at night than during the day.
Nails protect the sensitive tips of fingers and toes. We don’t need our nails to survive, but they do support the tips of our fingers and toes, protect them from injury, and help us pick up small objects. Without them, we’d have a hard time scratching an itch or untying a knot.
Nails can be an indicator of a person’s general health, and illness often affects their growth.
Nails grow out of deep folds in the skin of the fingers and toes. As epidermal cells below the nail root move up to the surface of the skin, they increase in number. Those closest to the nail root get flat and pressed tightly together. Each cell becomes a thin plate; these plates pile into layers to form the nail.
As with hair, nails form by keratinization. When the nail cells accumulate, the nail pushes forward.
The skin below the nail is the matrix. The larger part of the nail, the nail plate, looks pink because of the network of tiny blood vessels in the underlying dermis. The whitish crescent-shaped area at the base of the nail is the lunula (pronounced: LOON-yuh-luh).
Fingernails grow faster than toenails. Like hair, nails grow faster in summer than in winter. A nail that’s torn off will regrow if the matrix isn’t severely injured.
It may be tempting to ignore a splinter, especially if it doesn’t hurt. But a splinter can become infected, so you should try to get it out as soon as you notice it.
Puberty causes all kinds of changes in your body – and some may not make you feel very desirable. Read this article for information on dealing with greasy hair, perspiration, and body hair.
Sometimes it may seem like your skin is impossible to manage, especially when you find a huge zit on your nose or a cold sore at the corner of your mouth. Here are ways to prevent and treat common skin problems.
If you’re worried about dandruff, you’re not alone. Dandruff can start in puberty, and lots of teens and adults live with it. Learn how to control it.
Tanning beds are no safer than the sun — and may be even more dangerous. Read this article to get the details, and to find out what is safe when it comes to getting that golden glow.
Paronychia is an infection of the skin around a fingernail or toenail. Most of the time, it’s not serious. Find out what causes it, what to do, and how to prevent it.
A toenail is ingrown when it begins to break through and grow into the soft skin of the toe. Find out more about ingrown toenails.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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