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May 1954

PHYSICAL DIMENSIONS OF THE SKIN: Determination of the Specific Gravity of Skin, Hair, and Nail

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Dermatology and Syphilology (Marion B. Sulzberger, M.D., Chairman), New York University Post-Graduate Medical School, and the Service of Dermatology (Frank C. Combes, M.D., Director), Bellevue Hospital.

AMA Arch Derm Syphilol. 1954;69(5):563-569. doi:10.1001/archderm.1954.01540170033005

THE PHYSICAL dimensions of the skin receive scant mention in dermatologic textbook and periodical literature. The factors of surface area, absolute and comparative thicknesses of layers, and parts, volume, specific gravity, and weight of the skin do not seem to have loomed important enough to have excited much interest or comment among dermatologists.

But if it is true, as some have averred, that science is essentially mensuration, then accurate measurements of any sort must be ultimately, or in subtle manners, important. At least, there is a certain sense of comfort and orderliness in true measures. In reverse, an unknown or unmeasured quantity may lead to conjecture and then to error or confusion.

Thus, for example, when dermatologists announce, with vague pride, that the skin is the largest organ of the body, the meaning of the statement deserves critical examination. It happens to be wrong, if largeness is taken in senses

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