Get the Scoop on Your Skin
The poor misunderstood skin. Many people don't think of it as a living thing. They just think of it as an external "wrapping layer" for the body that keeps the inner organs from falling out. :)
Well, in fact, the skin is very much alive and it's also the largest organ of the body...accounting for a full 12% of your weight. The skin performs several essential functions. "...the three that are by far the most important are the following:
- Protection of deeper tissues against drying and against invasion by pathogenic organisms or their toxins through a mechanical barrier
- Regulation of body temperature by dissipation of heat to the surrounding air
- Receipt of information about the environment by means of the nerve endings, which are profusely distributed in the skin. Some sensory information has a protective function in that it enables one to withdraw from harmful stimuli, such as a hot stove."
(Source: Ruth Lundeen Memmler, M.D., Dena Lin Wood, R.N., B.S., P.H.N., The Human Body in Health and Disease, 6th Edition, 1987, J.B. Lippincott Company)
Certain skin diseases can be deadly. Melanoma, for example. This is a very serious skin cancer characterized by the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing tanning cells. By 1995 estimates, melanoma affects approximately 34,000 individuals in the U.S. and claims the lives of 7,200 Americans each year. Moreover, since the 1930s, the incidence of melanoma has increased 13-fold.
Doctors specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the skin are called "dermatologists." These are medical doctors who have completed an additional residency -- or specialized training period -- in dermatology.
Their main medical specialty organization, The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), has assembled an impressive collection of 25 patient information pamphlets on skin conditions ranging from acne and herpes to skin cancer and warts and put them on-line...on the Web. To access these excellent educational pamphlets, go to:
You may also contact AAD for information at:
American Academy of Dermatology
P.O. Box 4014
Schaumburg, Illinois 60168-4014 USA
Phone: (708) 330-0230
FAX: (708) 330-0050
Tell 'em The Medical Reporter sent you. And please...be kind to your skin, always.
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