9
wear and tear

As the body’s protective covering and screen, and its first line of defense against the environment, the skin has evolved to withstand a barrage of sharp, nasty, biting, and corrosive insults. But it is not perfect: it ages, scars, and suffers the ravages of disease and environmental assaults. Most of the ills that befall the skin are temporary and reversible, but some are lasting and cumulative and eventually take a toll on both its appearance and its functioning.

Since antiquity, people have documented and contemplated the various conditions and problems that affect the skin. For thousands of years before the birth of modern medicine in the eighteenth century, the skin alone testified to the state of a person’s health, displaying most of the known signs and symptoms of disease.1 As a result of this long history and the development of a branch of Western medicine devoted exclusively to the skin— dermatology—the catalog of recognized skin conditions is bewilderingly large. In addition to being overwhelming, perusing a comprehensive textbook of dermatology can also be unpleasant. We can immediately relate to

-121-

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Skin: A Natural History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface xv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Skin Laid Bare 9
  • 2 - History 21
  • 3 - Sweat 39
  • 4 - Skin and Sun 56
  • 5 - Skin’s Dark Secret 65
  • 6 - Color 76
  • 7 - Touch 97
  • 8 - Emotions, Sex, and Skin 112
  • 9 - Wear and Tear 121
  • 10 - Statements 141
  • 11 - Future Skin 164
  • Glossary 175
  • Notes 181
  • References 217
  • Index 243
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