The structure of skin
In zootomy and dermatology, skin is an organ of the integumentary system composed of a layer of tissues that protect underlying muscles and organs. As the interface with the surroundings, it plays the most important role in protecting against pathogens. Its other main functions are insulation and temperature regulation, sensation and vitamin D and B synthesis.
Skin is composed of the epidermis and the dermis. Below these layers lies the hypodermis(subcutaneous adipose layer), which is not usually classified as a layer of skin.
The outermost epidermis is consists of stratified squamous epithelium with an underlying basement membrane. It contains no blood vessels, and is nourished by diffusion from the dermis. The main type of cells which make up the epidermis are keratinocytes, with melanocytes and Langerhans cells also present. The epidermis can be further subdivided into the following strata (beginning with the outermost layer): corneum, lucidum, granulosum, spinosum, basale. Cells are formed through mitosis at the innermost layers. They move up the strata changing shape and composition as they differentiate, inducing expression of new types of keratin genes. They eventually reach the corneum and become sloughed off (desquamation). This process is called keratinization and takes place within about 30 days. This layer of skin is responsible for keeping water in the body and keeping other harmful chemicals and pathogens out.
The dermis lies below the epidermis and contains a number of structures including blood vessels, nerves, hair follicles, smooth muscle, glands and lymphatic tissue. It consists of loose connective tissue otherwise called areolar connective tissue - collagen, elastin and reticular fibres are present. Erector muscles, attached between the hair papilla and epidermis, can contract, resulting in the hair fibre pulled upright and consequentially goose bumps.
The main cell types of skin are fibroblasts, adipocytes (fat storage) and macrophages. Sebaceous glands are exocrine glands which produce sebum, a mixture of lipids and waxy substances: lubrication, water-proofing, softening and antibactericidal actions are among the many functions of sebum. Sweat glands open up via a duct onto the skin by a pore.
Skin can be dividided into thick and thin types. Thick skin is present on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands. It has a larger stratum corneum with a higher keratin content. Thick skin does not grow hair; its purpose is to help grip. Thin skin is present on the bulk of the body and has a smaller stratum corneum and fewer papillae ridges. It has hair and is softer and more elastic. The characteristics of the skin, including sensory nerve density and the type of hair, vary with location on the body.
The skin supports its own ecosystems of microorganisms, including yeasts and bacteria, which cannot be removed by any amount of cleaning. In general these organisms keep one another in check and are part of a healthy skin. When the balance is disturbed, e.g., by antibiotics which kill bacteria, there may be an overgrowth and infection by yeasts. The skin is continuous with the inner epithelial lining of the body at the orifices, each of which supports its own complement of flora.
Skin care and wrinkles
If you take care of your skin, your skin will take care of you! But with all of the lotions, creams, and potions on the market, it can be difficult to know which product will work for you. Many products claim to remove wrinkles or heal dry skin. Others claim to contain expensive ingredients that they say will improve the effects of the product.
The first step to taking care of your skin is preventing damage. Sun, wind, pollutants, and simply aging can degrade the condition of your skin. Common complaints include dry and itchy skin, wrinkles, sagging, color changes, and age spots. There are steps that you can take to keep you skin looking and feeling its best.
The most important way to care for your skin is to protect it from the damaging rays of the sun. Ultraviolet radiation damages the skin and can lead to wrinkles, premature aging, age spots, and cancer. Take extra precautions to make sure your skin is not exposed to the sun's rays. Use a natural sunscreen, or a moisturizer that contains sunscreen (at least SPF 15) everyday. Your skin does need some sunlight 10-15 minutes of direct exposure daily.
When you do use soap, try using a natural very mild soap that does not contain any dyes, parabens or perfumes. Follow up the bath with a moisturizing lotion, concentrating on problem dry areas. A good all natural moisturizer is one of the foundations for a healthy skin care regimen. Continue moisturizing throughout the day to keep skin healthy. Your hands and face are particularly susceptible to daily damage, and may need to be moisturized several times.
Wash your skin thoroughly on a daily basis to remove the dirt, debris, pollutants, and perspiration that accumulates on a daily basis. If you have dry or sensitive skin, use only warm water to wash your skin and use a mild natural cleanser every few days. If you have normal or oily skin, be sure to wash with a gentle cleanser on a daily basis. Be sure to brush your teeth before washing your face, as toothpaste residue can irritate sensitive facial skin.
Use a natural sunscreen when possible, regardless of whether or not you plan on spending much time in the sun. The sun's rays are very damaging and if you get in the habit of applying sunscreen everyday, you will never be left without protection. The suns most beneficial rays occur at sunrise and sunset.
The important thing to remember when seeking out treatment for your wrinkles is to know first how your body can possibly react to the treatment. Get in touch with a skin doctor for things that you are not sure of, but are contemplating on trying out.
There are a lot of skin care products in the market today. Unlike before when a normal bar of soap was used for skin cleansing, cosmetic companies are now producing a wide variety of skin care treatments that can address various skin concerns. However, there are cases when treatments need to be more aggressive, especially for those who have aging or blemished skin. Most, if not all, of the over-the-counter products are topical in nature, meaning it only affects the epidermis or the outer layer of the skin. Aging or blemished skin needs to be treated down to the root of the problem to see definite changes.
Definitions used on this page
- An inflammatory disease of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles of the skin that is marked by the eruption of pimples or pustules, especially on the face.
- Microscopic unicellular prokaryotic organisms characterized by the lack of a membrane-bound nucleus and membrane-bound organelles.
- The sensitive connective tissue layer of the skin located below the epidermis, containing nerve endings, sweat and sebaceous glands, and blood and lymph vessels.
- The outer, protective, nonvascular layer of the skin of vertebrates, covering the dermis.
- A subcutaneous layer of loose connective tissue containing a varying number of fat cells.
- A small swelling of the skin, usually caused by acne; a papule or pustule.
- Invisible electromagnetic radiation between visible violet light and X rays.