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Skin FAQs

Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

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Q:In square footage, how much skin is on the average adult?

A:20. The skin is the largest organ of the body, with a total area of about 20 square feet. The skin protects us from microbes and the elements, helps regulate body temperature, and permits the sensations of touch, heat, and cold.

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Q:Which is the least common cause of under-eye circles and bags?

A:Hard living (stress, alcohol, etc.). Dark circles, or bags under your eyes, have many causes, including increased melanin (hyperpigmentation), under-eye fat loss, and broken blood vessels. The least common cause of under-eye issues? Hard living – in the way of too much alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, and too little sleep!

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Q:What is vitiligo?

A:A skin disorder that causes skin and hair to turn white. Vitiligo (vit-ill-EYE-go) is a pigmentation disorder in which melanocytes (the cells that make pigment) in the skin are destroyed. As a result, white patches appear on the skin in different parts of the body. Similar patches also appear on both the mucous membranes (tissues that line the inside of the mouth and nose) and the retina (inner layer of the eyeball). The hair that grows on areas affected by vitiligo sometimes turns white.

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Q:What is the medical term for dry skin?

A:Xeroderma. Dry skin is a very common skin condition characterized by abnormal or excessive dryness of skin. While dry skin tends to affect males and females equally, older individuals are typically much more prone to dry skin. The skin in elderly individuals tends to have diminishing amounts of natural skin oils and lubricants. Areas such as the arms, hands, and particularly lower legs tend to be more affected by dry skin. Dry skin is also known as xeroderma.

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Q:Sagging skin is caused by a reduction in which component of skin?

A:The hypodermis. Reduction of tissue in the hypodermis is what causes your skin to sag. This layer is also known as the subcutis. It hosts sweat glands, fat, and collagen cells. The hypodermis is responsible for conserving your body's heat and protecting your vital inner organs.

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Q:Seventy-five percent of skin is made up of what substance?

A:Collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the skin, making up 75% of this organ. This is also your fountain of youth, for it is responsible for warding off wrinkles and fine lines. Over time, environmental factors and aging diminish your body's ability to produce collagen.

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Q:What is pachydermatous skin?

A:thick like elephant skin.. The term refers to thick skin, like that of a pachyderm (an elephant, rhinoceros, or hippopotamus). It originates from the Greek pachydermos, meaning "thick skin," from pachys, meaning "thick" + derma, meaning "skin." The adjective is pachydermatous.

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Q:Yellow dandruff is caused by a skin condition known as?

A:Seborrheic dermatitis. If dandruff flakes are greasy and yellow, the probable cause is the skin condition known as seborrheic dermatitis; seborrhea is usually associated with redness as well. Dry, thick lesions consisting of large, silvery scales may be traced to the less common psoriasis of the scalp. These scaly conditions become a hazard only if you scratch to the point of causing breaks in the skin, which can place you at greater risk for infections, particularly from Staph and strep bacteria.

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Q:What is a comedo?

A:Acne (pimples).. What is medically called an open comedo is commonly referred to as a blackhead. A comedo (congested pore), the primary sign of acne, consists of a dilated (widened) hair follicle filled with keratin squamae (skin debris), bacteria, and sebum (oil). An open comedo has a wide opening to the skin and is capped with a blackened mass of skin debris. By contrast, a closed comedo has an obstructed opening to the skin and may rupture to cause a low-grade skin inflammatory reaction in the area. The common name for a closed comedo is a whitehead. The term "comedones" expresses the plural form of comedo. The term noncomedogenic is frequently used to describe skin care products that will not clog pores.

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Q:Medical communities consider cellulite to be abnormal. True or False?

A:False. Medically, cellulite is not considered abnormal. The lumpiness of cellulite is caused by fat deposits that push and distort the connective tissues beneath skin, leading to the skin's characteristic dimpled appearance. Note: Cellulite is not related to the condition known as cellulitis, which is a spreading bacterial infection of the skin and tissues beneath the skin.

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Q:If you're an average adult, your skin can weigh as much as?

A:9 lbs. Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of your body? It weighs between 6 and 9 pounds! It protects you from bacteria and viruses that can cause infections, helps you sense the outside world, such as whether it is hot or cold, wet or dry, and regulates your body temperature.

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Q:Pruritis is the medical term for what skin condition?

A:Itching. Pruritis is the medical term for itching.

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Q:Who suffers more burn injuries: Men or Women?

A:Men. Burns affect people of all ages, though some are at higher risk than others. Most burns that occur in children younger than age 5 are scald burns from hot liquids. Over half of all burns occur in the 18- to 64-year-old age group. Older adults are at a higher risk for burns, mostly scald burns from hot liquids. Men are twice as likely to have burn injuries as women.

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Q:Flesh-eating bacteria are a myth. True or False?

A:False. Media reports have popularized the term "flesh-eating bacteria" to refer to a very rare but serious bacterial infection known as necrotizing fasciitis. Necrotizing fasciitis is an infection that starts in the tissues just below the skin and spreads along the flat layers of tissue (known as fascia) that separate different layers of soft tissue, such as muscle and fat. This dangerous infection is most common in the arms, legs, and abdominal wall and is fatal in 30%-40% of cases.

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