The story of our lives is written on our skin. Our skin tells other people about the kinds of lives we’ve led, how strong our immune system is, whether we’ll have any issues with fertility, the kind of climate we’re from, and how well we heal.
In earlier eras, many diseases permanently disfigured their victims, leaving numerous scars and skin lesions; a testament to their bad luck and sub-optimal immune system. People with more robust immune systems either didn’t get sick, or weren’t as ravaged by the disease. As a historical sidebar, Edward Jenner, a pioneer in the history of vaccines, observed that milkmaids almost never had the horrible scarring that afflicted Smallpox survivors. Cowpox was a disease that milkmaids commonly contracted as a childhood disease, and he deduced that surviving Cowpox granted them immunity to the much deadlier small-pox. Syphilis was another disease that commonly left people covered in unsightly lesions, particularly as the disease progressed. Smooth unblemished skin is a strong indicator that someone is generally healthy.
Even today, skin quality can signal potential health issues. Cystic Acne, and Acne Vulgaris have high co-morbidity with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS (co-morbidity is a measure of how frequently two separate conditions occur in the same patient). PCOS is the leading reason why couples seek fertility therapy in the US. Severe acne and the resulting scars can also indicate numerous other hormonal issues. Our Mei Zen facial rejuvenation acupuncture can help patients recover from their acne scarring and help prevent breakouts, and our abdominal protocol can help patients dealing with hormonal issues such as PCOS better manage their condition.
As we age, our skin becomes a map that reveals the broad strokes of our lives. There are the lines we love, earned through smiling, joy, and laughter, however, smokers and people who’ve spent a lot of time tanning typically age with more wrinkles, and generate drier, less elastic skin. People who grew up in the more southern parts of the US, particularly paler people, are more prone to sun damage, especially if they spent a lot of time playing outside in their youth.
Lastly, we should consider scarring, because how our scars appear, tell others how well we heal. Most of us with access to modern health care heal with relatively minor scarring. Then there are types of scars that indicate deeper health issues. One particular example are keloid scars, which occur when during the repair process the body lays down too much collagen. These scars indicate a minor pathology in the wound recovery process, signaling important information to potential mates and rivals.
Certainly, there is much that our skin reveals about us that is more cultural than biological in nature, and we will discuss that in a later post. Our skin communicates so much to people we interact with. In many ways, it is an elaborate poem etched into our flesh, open for interpretation by all those who see it. The question then becomes, how do you want that poem written?