Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies. It protects us from the world around us and needs our care. The primary function of the skin is to act as a barrier and it plays an important role in protecting, regulating, and managing sensation.
The skin is an organ of protection
The skin provides protection from microbes, pressure, variations in temperature, radiation, and chemicals. Bacteria, viruses, and other infectious agents are kept out, helping prevent infections on your skin, and water and nutrients are kept in for the body to use. Body parts that are more susceptible to injury, like the soles of your feet and palms of your hands, have a thicker epidermis for even better protection.
The skin is an organ of regulation
The skin regulates body temperature with its blood supply and helps to prevent dehydration, protecting you from the negative effects of too much heat or cold. The skin regulates several aspects of physiology including: body temperature via sweat and hair, and changes in peripheral circulation and fluid balance via sweat. “Goosebumps” and blood vessel constriction help us retain heat.
How it works
Skin is a complex organ, despite being just a few millimetres thick, skin makes up around one-seventh of our body weight. The skin contains an extensive network of nerve cells that detect and relay changes in the environment. It allows your body to feel sensations such as warmth, cold, pressure, itching and pain.
The three layers:
- The epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin tone.
- The dermis, beneath the epidermis, contains tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands.
- The deeper subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis) is made of fat and connective tissue.
How to improve skin health
Several factors contribute to the health of our skin. When our skin is compromised, its ability to work as an effective barrier is reduced. Ageing, diet, changes in hormones, environmental, stress, dehydration, smoking and some medications, all negatively impact the skin. Some we can`t control, but many we can manage, and this will help to keep our skin healthy and nourished right through our life cycle, from infants with eczema, to acne prone teenagers, to dehydrated and aged older skin.