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Our Skin: So Important

September 12, 2017
Another Way for week of September 9, 2017
Our Skin: So Important

Skin is perhaps the least appreciated bodily organ, but so important. In fact, we seldom think of skin as an actual organ, like the heart, or liver. But remove that outer layer of our bodies—and we fall apart.

As we get older, our skin becomes more and more fragile. I learned that lesson this summer. I was coming up our basement steps carrying something, I forget what, with my husband. I slipped, and my right middle finger, skin side, caught on the edge of a wooden step. The mishap almost took a whole patch of skin the size of half a nickel off the last section. Almost: the skin hung on, but only in a couple of places.

No splinters and not much pain, but a giant nuisance to keep from bleeding and then from infection.

Luckily a trip to the beach and it’s healing salt waters was coming up three weeks after the accident—just at the right time to finish healing my digit. Now you can barely see a scar and my finger print looks roughly the same. Amazing.

Speaking of beach, I remember the years when we soaked up all the sun we could—using baby oil as a medium with which to fry our skin.

How very stupid. Generations of us are now paying the price. Skin cancer—in the form of basal cell, or the more deadly melanoma, are popping up among baby boomers and even younger. But we did not know better; if much was said about skin cancer when I was a teen, I did not hear it, or it passed through my cranium in obeisance to the god of beautifully tanned skin.

My dermatologist—who I began going to because of a small basal skin cancer on my chest—has a brilliant poster that shows a piece of leather and then says something along these lines: “This is leather. How is leather made? By tanning skin. Get the picture?’SkinPoster

In her examining room another huge medical-teaching poster explained the steps in the healing of a wound.


  • a blood clot forms to help stop the bleeding, and usually dries to make a protective scab;
  • below the surface, inflammation and nearby blood vessels enlarge to deliver oxygen and nutrient-rich blood and “leukocytes” to clean the wound of dead tissue and bacteria;
  • rapid proliferation (or regeneration) and migration of new epithelial cells [lining that helps separate the inner parts of our body from the skin and outside environment] helps to replace the damaged area with new tissue and close the wound.

Of course, if a wound is deep enough, stitches or another substance—even crazy glue—helps hold skin together, generally resulting in less scarring.

When my finger got hurt, I toyed with the idea of going to the ER or a doctor but didn’t like the idea of stitches on the end of my finger. Indeed the healing happened pretty much on its own.

How cool is that. Just amazing, when you stop to think about it, as with most of the functions of our bodies.

Wikipedia says “In humans, skin is the largest organ of the integumentary system. The skin has up to seven layers of ectodermal tissue and guards the underlying muscles, bones, ligaments and internal organs.” Wikipedia further defines integumentary as “the organ system that protects the body from various kinds of damage, such as loss of water or abrasion from outside. [It] includes the skin and its appendages including hair, scales, feathers, hooves, and nails [when considering the whole mammal world].

How fearfully and wonderfully God made us all!

What have you learned about our wonderful skin–here or through your own experiences–or that of loved ones?
Other Comments? Make them right here or send to Thanks!
Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.

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  1. Elaine permalink

    After going through menopause, one of the things I “grieved” was the loss of elasticity in my skin. The skin is an amazing organ of our body though, especially the healing process!

    • We truly do not think very much about the role our skin plays. I was quite amazed at the description of “nearby blood vessels enlarge to deliver oxygen and nutrient-rich blood” after a wound to the skin. I hadn’t thought about it much as occurring after menopause but I’m sure that has a lot to do with the thinning of the skin. Thanks for commenting, Elaine!

  2. My hubby keeps damaging his finger skin too, the latest when he lifted a painting to secure it in a closet before the storm. He sliced two fingers (Ouch!) but after cleaning up, applied a product called New Skin, a liquid bandage. A week later, good as new.

  3. My husband has used Crazy Glue to put skin together but I like the sound of “New Skin liquid bandage” much better. Glad to hear it got better very fast! Sounds great.
    It sounds like you fared ok during the storm and I’m happy that you made it through this difficult and frightening time. Prayers for the extended community and those with flooding.

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