Body facts

How fast do nails grow, what is nail art? What are freckles? What is a bruise? Why does one person have frizzy hair and the other has curly or straight hair? How fast does hair actually grow? How does a scab form on a wound? Why can a cold key or ice on your neck stop a nosebleed? Why do you get gray hair as you get older? Fascinating facts about ordinary bodily functions that seem so obvious, but are actually very special.

  • What are freckles?
  • How fast do nails grow?
  • What is a bruise?
  • How fast does hair actually grow?
  • Why do we get gray hair as we get older?
  • What happens if a scab forms on a wound?
  • Why can a cold key or ice on your neck stop a nosebleed?
  • Why do some people have frizzy hair and others have straight or curly hair?


What are freckles?

Freckles (ephelide) are small spots of color in the skin and a build-up of melanin under the skin. The tan comes in the same way as normal sun tanning, but the distribution of melanin is not even and this shows in a freckle. Freckles become visible when the skin is exposed to sunlight, because they are small spots of skin that tan faster than the skin around them, due to the melanin. Red-haired people relatively often have more freckles. In themselves, freckles are not harmful and are not a real abnormality or skin condition. However, people with many freckles appear to be at a slightly greater risk of skin abnormalities, such as melanoma (a form of skin cancer with melanin-containing pigment cells).

How fast do nails grow?

Nails grow about 0.1 mm per day, which is between 2.5 and 5 centimeters per year. Nails grow slightly faster in men than in women. If you cut them, fingernails and toenails will replace themselves about every 6 months. A nail needs approximately 6 to 8 months to grow back completely. The nails continue to grow without cutting. However, in most people they break off on their own. But if they do grow all the way through, they can reach a length of around 60 centimeters. The nails curve when they become very long, making it difficult to pick things up (or type, for example). The function of the nails is to protect the nerve endings in the tips of your fingers so that calluses do not develop on the fingertips.
The nail also has a cuticle (edge of skin that connects to the nail) and a nail bed (pink part of the nail). The nail plate or the visible top has 3 layers:

  • Horny layer or cuticle layer. This is the top layer that comes loose when it dries out, which is also called a split nail or split nail.
  • Keratin layer or sponge layer. This layer absorbs all nutrients and also retains moisture and fat
  • Epithelial layer or bottom layer. This is what the nail wall is attached to, which sits on the side of the nail plate.

Nail art Nail art . The nail has recently received more attention than ever. Although women have been decorating their nails with nail polish or artificial nails for some time, nail art has now emerged: from artificial nail to nail art. Nowadays there are many nail studios where they make real nail works of art.

What is a bruise?

You get a subcutaneous bruise, also called a bruise or hematoma, if something hits you on the spot. It first turns red, then various other colors, later blue and it also hurts. This is because a small bleeding occurs under the skin and the blood then darkens. External impact causes blood vessels to bruise, causing blood to leak into the tissue. This is broken down again by the body. The spot changes color, first turning red, sometimes bluish, sometimes yellow or purple. This is due to the broken down hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in the blood (blood cells). Because the broken down hemoglobin is converted into yellow pigments, the spot, together with the blue color, gives a greenish and later yellowish color. Such a bruise is harmless, unless the bruise is serious. A bruise caused by a heavy bump usually disappears after a few days, sometimes a few weeks.
A common bruise is called ecchymosis. A larger bruise just under the skin is a purpura. People who use medication that affects the clotting of the blood (e.g. aspirin or drugs for thrombosis) are more likely to bruise, which often also look brighter (worse).

How fast does hair actually grow?

In general, your hair grows about 15 centimeters per year, so just over 1 centimeter per month. If you don’t cut your hair, it usually grows to your waist, but not much further. The hair on your head continues to grow, but when each hair reaches its maximum natural length, it falls out. A new hair will grow on your head in its place. Hair contains the protein keratin. The thickness of 1 hair is approximately 1/20 mm. Hair has an aesthetic function for beauty, a protective function against cold or against heat (sunstroke).
Women’s hair is stronger than men’s hair, but men often have more hair than women. A woman has approximately 130,000 to 150,000 hairs. A man between 150,000 and 180,000.
Hair color . Hair contains pigment or melanin. There are 2 types: black pigment (eumelanin) and red/yellow pigment (pheo-melanin). Hair color depends on the type and concentration of melanin. For example, brown hair is a mix of black with red pigment.

Why do we get gray hair as we get older?

Your hair has color because it contains a pigment (dye), namely melanin. Your hair is lighter or darker if it contains more or less or a different type of melanin. As people get older, the supply of melanin can stop, or melanin production (pigment formation) can stop. The hair continues to grow, but it turns gray or white instead of the original coloring. Gray hair is actually colorless hair, which is because the hair follicle no longer produces pigment. The age at which you go gray can differ per person (and family). In general, the first gray hairs appear between the ages of 38 and 50. Nowadays, compared to the past, people appear to turn gray earlier (how and why is not yet known).

What happens if a scab forms on a wound?

If you have a wound, a scab (scab) quickly forms above the damaged skin. This scab consists of dried blood and other substances. The blood that flows from the wound thickens, clots and forms a kind of web that further captures and retains blood cells. The blood cells dry out, shrink and form a crust; a kind of shield that prevents bacteria from entering the (still) damaged skin. Under the scab, the skin continues to heal and when the skin has healed again, the scab will fall off automatically.

Why can a cold key or ice on your neck stop a nosebleed?

Sometimes it is possible to stop a nosebleed by placing a large cold key or some ice on your neck and also on your nose itself. The sudden cold at the scene helps close the small arteries that supply blood to the nose. This can stop or stop the bleeding.

Why do some people have frizzy hair and others have straight or curly hair?

You have roughly between 100,000 and 200,000 hairs on your head (different between men and women, see above). These grow from very small openings in your skin, called follicles or hair follicles. As a hair grows, it squeezes through the top of the hair follicle, in a similar way to toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube.

Follicle shape

It is the follicle shape that determines whether hair becomes straight, curly or frizzy. Round follicles lead to straight (straight) hair, oval to curly hair and rectangular follicles produce frizzy hair. The structure of the hair also differs. For example, the hair of (white) Europeans is finer in structure than, for example, Asian hair.

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