What you know about your skin
Knowing the most important facts about your skin can help you to take care of it well for the long term. Skin is the organ that comes into contact with the rest of the world. It holds body fluids in, preventing dehydration (dee-hahy-DREY-shun), and keeps harmful microbes (MYE-krobs) out—without it, we would get infections. Your skin is full of nerve endings that help you feel things like heat, cold, and pain. If you couldn’t feel these things, you could get badly hurt and not even know it!
Why is healthy skin important?
Since your skin plays such an important role in protecting your body, you should keep it as healthy as you can. This will help you keep from getting sick or having damage to your bones, muscles, and internal organs.
Skin is actually your body’s largest organ by size. Your skin helps keep your body temperature even. If you get too hot, blood vessels near the surface of the skin, called capillaries, enlarge to let the warm blood cool down.
Your skin also makes vitamin D when the sun shines on it. Vitamin D is important for the health of your bones and other parts of your body.
You can injure your skin
It’s not too hard to injure your skin. So be careful when you’re doing anything that might injure it (like using sharp tools, working in the yard, or playing a sport). Cuts, bumps, and scrapes are a normal part of life. It wouldn’t be much fun if you tried to avoid them completely. But it’s smart to wear the right protective equipment, like gloves, long sleeves, knee and elbow pads, or helmets. A facial mask is also recommended when working with chemicals etc.
Be very careful when you’re around anything hot that can burn your skin. Burns, including sunburn, can be very painful and can take a long time to heal. Burns can also get infected easily. Sometimes, burns leave bad scars and permanently damage your skin. If you’re helping out in the kitchen, make sure you use hot pads or wear oven mitts to protect your hands when you’re grabbing something hot.
What to do when your skin is injured
If you do get a cut or scratch, clean it right away with soap and warm water and put on a bandage to protect it while it heals. This keeps dirt and germs from getting into the wound and causing an infection. If you come into contact with a plant like poison ivy, wash your skin and clothing right away. If you develop a rash, ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter medicines. For severe rashes, you might need to see your doctor.
What to do about insect bites
Watch out for insect bites, too. Try not to scratch them, because they could get infected. Cover up your skin as much as possible when you will be in the woods, tall grass, or other areas where there may be ticks (small, 8-legged bugs). It helps to wear light-coloured clothing, so you can see ticks before they have a chance to bite. Ticks can carry germs that will make you sick. If you find a tick attached to your skin, get a trusted adult to help you remove it.
There are many diseases that can affect your skin. Some like vitiligo (vit-ill-EYE-go) cause the skin to lose its natural colour, and some like alopecia areata (al-oh-PEE-shah ar-ee-AH-tah) can make the hair fall out. Another skin disease like epidermolysis bullosa (ep-ee-der-MOL-eh-sis bull-O-sa) can cause painful blisters. Psoriasis (suh-RYE-uh-sis) can cause itchy, scaly red patches. Go see your doctor if you think you might have a skin disease.
Let’s all take the time, to look after our beautiful skin!