The skin is the largest organ in the body. The importance and deliberate location of your skin , all over your body cannot be over emphasized. It does not only serve as a protective covering for all your other organs and structures, it also participates in your day to day living, from breathing to excretion and telling you or giving you a sign of what is actually going on in your body. It is a loud speaker on your state of health.
Therefore the human skin is the outer covering of the body. In humans, it is the largest organ of the integumentary systemÂ because it interfaces with the environment, skin plays an important immunity role in protecting the body against pathogens and excessive water loss.
What is the purpose of the skin?
The skin1 is one of the largest organs in the body in surface area and weight. The skin consists of two layers: the epidermis and the dermis. Beneath the dermis lies the hypodermis or subcutaneous fatty tissue. The skin has three main functions: protection, regulation and sensation.
The skin has very important vital functions for keeping the physiological and biochemical conditions of the body in its optimum state.
The most important functions of the skin are:
â€¢ Regulates body temperature.
â€¢ Prevents loss of essential body fluids, and penetration of toxic substances.
â€¢ Protection of the body from harmful effects of the sun and radiation.
â€¢ Excretes toxic substances with sweat.
â€¢ Mechanical support.
â€¢ Immunological function mediated by Langerhans cells.
â€¢ Sensory organ for touch, heat, cold, socio-sexual and emotional sensations.
â€¢ Vitamin D synthesis from its precursors under the effect of sunlight and introversion of steroids.
â€¢ Protection: As the first line of defense against the external environment, the epidermis is continuously replenishing and shedding tens of thousands of dead cells every minute to protect the body from:
â€¢ Mechanical impact: Skin acts as the first physical barrier to withstand any pressure, stress or trauma. When this mechanical impact is stronger than the skin, a wound will occur, as a breakage through skin with loss of one or more of the skin functions.
â€¢ Fluids: Due to the tight packing of cells in the outermost layer of the epidermis, our skin helps us retain necessary body fluids and moisture, and protects us from the absorption of external fluids or liquids. We can bathe, swim and walk in the rain without concern. Our skin prevents the absorption of any harmful substance or excessive water loss through skin.
â€¢ Permits movement and growth: growth of body and bodily tissue and adaptation of body skin during movement.
â€¢ Radiation: If it werenâ€™t for the skin, the ultraviolet light (UV light) radiating from sun would damage the underlying tissue in our bodies. This protection is provided by the melanin pigmentation in the epidermis. The skin and its pigmentation helps protect us from many medical illnesses like skin cancers, but because it doesnâ€™t offer complete protection, we should avoid excessive exposure to sunlight by using sunblock and adequate clothing.
â€¢ Infections: The top layer of skin is covered with a thin, oily coat of moisture that prevents most foreign substances or organisms (such as bacteria, viruses and fungi) from entering the skin. The epidermis also has Langerhans cells, which help to regulate immune responses to pathogens that come into contact with the skin.
â€¢ Thermal regulation: Temperature regulation is aided by the skin through the sweat glands and blood vessels in the dermis. Increased evaporation of the secreted sweat decreases the body temperature. Vasodilation (relaxing of small blood vessels) in the dermis makes it easier for the body to release some heat and lower the body temperature through skin. In vasoconstriction (contracting small blood vessels), the dermis retains some of the internal body temperature. The fatty subcutaneous layer of the skin also acts as an insulation barrier, helping to prevent the loss of heat from the body and decreasing the effect of cold temperatures.
â€¢ Sensation: An important function of the skin dermis is to detect the different sensations of heat, cold, pressure, contact and pain. Sensation is detected through the nerve endings in the dermis which are easily affected by wounds. This sensation in the skin plays a role in helping to protect us from burn wounds. The skinâ€™s sensation can protect us from first and second degree burns, but in cases of third degree burns it is less effective, as we donâ€™t feel any pain due to the fact that the nerve endings in the skin are destroyed (which indicates a more severe injury).
â€¢ Endocrine function: Skin is one of our main sources of vitamin D, through the production of Cholecalciferol (D3) in the two lowermost layers of the epidermis .
The vital role of the skin includes
Skin plays an important role in protecting our body:
1. it fights against external irritation,
2. regulates our body temperature and
3. prevents the loss of blood and body fluids. Therefore, it is very important to keep our skin in its best condition.
Your skin health is important not only for your appearance, but more importantly because your skin performs so many essential tasks for your body. Your skin protects your body from the many viruses and bacteria you are exposed to daily. It also protects you from the sunâ€™s rays – specifically ultraviolet light – that can damage cells. Healthy skin produces vitamin D when exposed to the sun, and vitamin D is important for many body functions. Having healthy skin also helps your body keep its temperature at a constant level. Healthy skin also helps you react better to important changes around you by feeling pain or pressure.
Warning sign to see a doctor:
Being the first line of defense against the outside world, you should see your doctor when you have one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
1. Signs of inflammation (redness, heat, swelling, pain and fever)
2. Signs of infection (pus, fever, swelling and pain)
3. Allergic reaction (itching, redness, hives or skin rash, and heat)
4. Abnormal skin moles (irregular shape, large, painful or itching)
5. New nodules, lumps or skin discoloration.
Caring for your skin
â€¢ Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight (use sunscreens, sunblocks and protective clothes)
â€¢ Regular cleaning with soap and water
â€¢ Regular checks of moles, skin creases, sweaty areas (between toes, armpits or groin area)
â€¢ Apply topical over-the-counter moisturizers (to prevent dryness and cracks)
â€¢ Avoid walking bare footed.
What your skin says about yout health
The skin is your bodyâ€™s largest organ so changes in your hair, skin or nails can be a sign that something is going on beneath the surface. While problematic skin could simply mean that you need to alter your beauty routine, your skinâ€™s condition could also be the tell-tale sign of an underlying medical condition.
â€¢ Dry, Itchy Skin
If your moisturizer just isnâ€™t cutting it, itâ€™s time to look deeper. Chronically dry skin is commonly caused by two things-eczema and general dryness or climate.Â Eczema, a chronic inflammatory skin condition, can cause dry, itchy, inflamed and cracked skin.Â It has immunological, genetic and environmental components and is also related to asthma and hay fever.
â€¢Â Â Â Chin and Jawline Breakouts
Pimples popping up along your jawline and chin again? Breakouts in these areas could signal a possible hormone imbalance. This kind of adult acne is very common in women who may not have had acne as teenagers.Â But donâ€™t worry or you could exacerbate the problem-hormonal acne in women can get worse in times of stress, during your period or during menopause.
â€¢ Unusual Hair Growth
Unwanted hair thatâ€™s sprouting up in classically male areas, such as around the chin or just below your bellybutton, could be a sign of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).Â But, genetics and hormones also play a role in hair growth. If youâ€™re concerned, or exhibiting other symptoms of PCOS such as an inability to lose weight despite diet and exercise or irregular periods, consult a doctor to rule out PCOS.
â€¢ Dark Circles
Before you slap on concealer, consider all the factors that could be causing your circles. Dark und r eyes can be a combination of genetics, age or lifestyle factors. Anatomically as you age, the fat pads and structural support around your eyes changes so you can see more of the hollows. Dark skin under your eyes can also be caused by a nutrient deficiency, a lack of hydration or not getting enough sleep.
â€¢ Sun Spots
Freckles and dark spots are a measure of your lifelong sun damage. Most sun damage occurs during childhood and teen years and can increase your risk for skin cancer. Keep an eye on any changes in your skin from moles to raised lesions or sores that wonâ€™t heal.
â€¢ Sallow Complexion
Dehydration can cause your skin to lack lustre and your face can become sallow looking. Dry winter weather can also play a role in a sallow complexion. Drinking enough water and getting ample sleep can improve the look of your skin.
â€¢ Red Bumps
Donâ€™t assume all red bumps are pimples-acne-like lesions, a ruddy complexion, redness and dry skin can all be symptoms of rosacea. This chronic skin condition is caused by both environmental and genetic factors, spicy foods, exercise and stress.
â€¢ Puffy, Irritated Eyelids
Allergies could be the culprit for swollen eyes. If the irritation is accompanied by a rash, you
could be suffering from eczema (a common symptom in adults is dryness and rashes on the eyelids) or contact dermatitis caused by an irritating product. I see a lot of eyelid dermatitis.Â People have to look at all the products they are using from sponge applicators to makeup.
â€¢ Constant Flushing
Feeling embarrassed about your flushing? A chronically red forehead and cheeks could be caused by dilated blood vessels due to the chronic skin condition rosacea.Â Extreme flushing can also be caused by hormonal changes in women such as menopause. If your skin suddenly becomes very flushed and it wonâ€™t go away and it is accompanied by any other swelling, you could also be having an allergic reaction so seek medical attention.
â€¢ Visible Veins
Unsightly veins arenâ€™t merely cosmetic. Your veins are an important indicator of your circulatory health. Spider veins or varicose veins on your legs can be a signal of deeper issues with your blood flow caused by age, weight and genetics and could indicate future health concerns. Spider veins on your face can be caused by excessive straining or rosacea.
â€¢ Dark Patches
Dark pigmentation on the face (known as melasma) tends to be hormonally related in women, and is often associated with pregnancy. While it doesnâ€™t signal an underlying medical issue it can be triggered by hormonal spikes and exacerbated by the sun.
â€¢ Red, Itchy Rash
Rashes are commonly caused by contact dermatitis, meaning the skin comes into contact with something irritating and the skin has an immune response. But rashes in warm, moist areas of the skin can also be caused by a fungal infection, common in individuals whose diabetes is not being properly managed.
â€¢ Hair Loss
If youâ€™re suffering from distinct, round patches of hair loss both on your head and body this can signal something called alopecia areata.Â This autoimmune disease often has a genetic component and can occur in otherwise healthy individuals. Dramatic and sudden hair loss, called telogen effluvium, is commonly caused by things like childbirth, severe psychological stress, high fever, infection or a major illness, but will generally grow backÂ in three monthsâ€™ time.
â€¢ Nail Changes
Nails are a gateway to your health.Â If you develop discoloration, dark spots, changes in your nail shape or clubbing, these can be signs of internal issues below the surface from vitamin deficiencies to lupus to liver disease.
Frequent unexplained bruising or bruises that donâ€™t heal could signal a bleeding disorder. But, your body also bruises more easily with age because the capillaries are closer to the surface as your skin thins. Medications like blood thinners can also contribute to bruises, but if you have large, unexplained bruising or new bruises after starting a medication, speak to a doctor.
â€¢ Cuts that Wonâ€™t Heal
If a cut or wound is slow to heal, it could signal a possible skin infection. Other causes of slow wound healing include skin cancer (basal or squamous cell carcinoma), a blood clotting disorder or diabetes.
â€¢ Dark, Scaly Patches
Donâ€™t assume all dark spots are sun-related.Â Often, blood flow issues in people with undiagnosed diabetes can show up as dark patches on the front of the legs. Known as diabetic dermopathy, this can be a signal to see your doctor for more tests.
Finally. Nutrition is important for health. An unhealthy diet can damage your metabolism, cause weight gain and even affect organs such as your heart and liver. What you eat also affects the health of another organ â€” your skin.Â As more is learned about how diet affects the body, itâ€™s becoming increasingly clear that what you eat can significantly affect the health and aging of your skin.
Here are some foods that improve the skin health
Fatty Fish. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring, are excellent foods for healthy skin. …
Avocados. Avocados are high in healthy fats. …
Sunflower Seeds. …
Sweet Potatoes. …
Red or Yellow Bell Peppers. …