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August 2017

The Skin of Our Teeth

Author Affiliations
  • 1Private practice, Pembroke Pines, Florida
JAMA Dermatol. 2017;153(8):788. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.2104

Sometimes life brings us great misfortune, yet somehow we escape the calamity, as the popular saying goes, by “the skin of our teeth.” This proverbial expression is one of the oldest related to dermatology, dating back to Biblical times and to the Book of Job. The exact quote reads: “My bones cling to my skin and flesh; I have escaped with the skin of my teeth” (Job 19:20). In this verse, the “skin of my teeth” means Job’s gums,1 which were spared from a dermatitis that engulfed Job from “the soles of his feet to the top of his head” (Job 2:7). This skin affliction was 1 of a series of calamities that suddenly befell Job, testing his piety.

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