The first book to chronicle our largest and ever-changing organ—our skin. It’s the only organ we can see, and we look at it every day, but we have no understanding of its astounding complexity, and we only pay it attention when it is damaged.
The book was published in the UK in September by Transworld and has received rave reviews and is in a third printing. It was named a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week and shortlisted for the 2019 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize. Rights have also been sold in six countries: Place DV in France, Eksmo in Russia, Swiat Ksiazki in Poland, ROK Media in Korea, United Sky in China, and Misuzu Shobo in Japan.
Our skin may look static, but it is teeming with activity. Millions of cells move outward every day to replace dead skin, or rush to an injured area to immediately start the healing process. Uncountable micro-organisms—most of them friendly, but some not—constantly cross our surface. And skin constantly interacts with our mind, blood, and other organs to maintain our health.
The narrative is filled with fascinating facts. Here are five: The outermost later of the skin, the epidermis, is less than 1 mm thick, less than a sheet of paper, yet it carries out all the barrier functions of our skin; an individual sheds more than 1 million skin cells every day, making up roughly half the dust in our homes; on the two square meters of our skin there are more than a thousand different species of bacterium, as well as fungi, viruses, and notes; after a cut or wound, the skin begins to heal immediately, with myofibroblasts pulling the wound closer at a speed of almost 1 mm per day; our fingertips wrinkle or prune up in the shower or bath to prepare for gripping wet objects, resembling a drainage network and acting as tire treads.
Monty Lyman is an award-winning doctor and medical writer whose prose skill makes the story of our skin come alive.
Based on the latest scientific knowledge and advances—as Lyman makes clear, our understanding of how our skin functions, and appreciation for its brilliant intricacy, is constantly expanding.
Contemporary and historical stories illustrate the profound way our skin influences our lives—from regulating body temperature and keeping dangerous elements out, to skin damage and the effects of aging, to the psychology around our self-image.