Your Body: Explained!

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Why do I wake up in the morning with gunk in my eyes?

That crusty stuff is actually just dried tears. Your tear glands are constantly watering your eyes to flush out irritants. “While you’re awake, the act of blinking wipes tears away before they can build up,” says Jason Edward Karo, M.D., an ophthalmologist in Charlotte, N.C. “But when your eyes are closed at night, the dried tears accumulate inside the corners.” 

Why do I get goose bumps during scary movies? 
Goose bumps are produced by piloerection, a reflex that contracts the muscles around the base of each hair follicle, causing the hair to stand up (and small bumps to emerge), says Zoe Draelos, M.D., a consulting professor of dermatology at Duke University. Back when humans were hairier, piloerection had two benefits: It helped keep us warm by trapping heated air close to the skin, and in scary situations, it made us look bigger and more threatening (like a spooked cat puffing up its fur). Watching a horror flick in an air-conditioned theater provides the perfect setup for piloerection: You’re not only frightened, you’re also probably freezing. 

Why do my fingers and toes wrinkle in the water? 
Here’s the leading hypo-thesis: The top layer of your skin absorbs more water than the layers beneath, increasing its surface area, says Richard Scher, M.D., professor emeritus of dermatology at Columbia University. Since the newly baggy skin is still attached to the non-bloated layers, it bunches up, causing a prunelike effect. Fingers and toes are especially prone because of their thicker shell of dead keratin, an absorbent protein on the skin’s outer layer. 

Why does it seem as if mosquitoes find me more delectable than other people? 
It doesn’t just seem that way. The bloodsuckers are drawn to a tasty dinner by a variety of signals, including heat, carbon dioxide, movement, and the smell of skin ­secretions like lactic acid. One study even found that mosquitoes tend to prefer people who have recently downed a beer. No one knows what precise combination mosquitoes find the most irresistible, but if you seem to be their meal of choice, wear ­repellent and pass on the brew.