Your Touchy Skin | God's World News
Your Touchy Skin
Science Soup
Posted: December 18, 2017


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Skin protects your body by keeping the right stuff in and the wrong stuff out. But skin also protects with the sense of touch. What if you couldn’t feel that your foot was stepping on glass, or that your hand was resting on a hot stove? You could get badly cut or burned.

Nerves carry messages to and from your body parts and your brain. Large nerves split off into smaller and smaller branches. Millions of nerves end in the layers of your skin. Those ends are receptors. They receive feelings like hot, cold, vibration, pressure, and more.

You could probably make a long list of words that describe how things can feel. There are several kinds of nerve receptors and one or another of them handles each of the things on your list.

Just how touchy are you?

The answer to that question depends on what kind of touch and what part of you we are talking about. Do a two-point touch experiment to find out where your skin is more or less sensitive to pressure. You will need glue, toothpicks, thin cardboard (like index cards or a cereal box), a millimeter ruler, a pencil, and a friend who doesn’t mind getting poked a bit.

1) Mark cards with measurements as shown. Glue pairs of toothpicks 60, 30, 15, 8, and 4 millimeters apart. Make sure the tips are even. Glue a single toothpick to one of the cards.

2) Blindfold a friend. Gently poke his or her bare skin with the widest pair of toothpicks. Does your friend feel two points? Next, use the pair of toothpicks that are 30 millimeters apart. Try with the other cards. At which card does your friend stop feeling two points? (Use the single toothpick once in a while to try to trick your friend.)

3) Try your experiment on different areas, such as fingertip, palm, inside of forearm, shoulder, cheek, lips, and sole of foot.

Where is your skin more or less sensitive to pressure? Some body parts might have 100 pressure receptors in an area the size of a postage stamp. Other areas might have as few as 10. Those areas can’t send as much information to your brain.