The skin is in many ways the largest organ of the human body. It provides the first line of defense in the immune system since it helps to prevent many pathogenic organisms from gaining entry into our body. Our skin also contains many sensory receptors that allow us to sense our environment. We can sense pressure, touch, temperature changes, and pain, all through special structures in our skin which are attached to nerve fibers.
There are three main layers making up the skin. The outermost layer is the epidermis which consists of stratified squamous epithelial cells which are designed to be sloughed off. These are close-fitting cells which have no blood supply. This layer of cells provides a waterproof barrier and protection for the underlying tissue layers. There are cells present in the epidermis that make the protein keratin, these are cells called keratinocytes. The dermis is the layer of skin that occurs below the epidermis of the skin.
The dermis is the layer where you find blood vessels, nerves and also where the hair follicles grow from. Sweat and sebaceous glands are also found in the dermis of the skin.
Beneath the dermis is the hypodermis which contains areolar connective tissue and adipose tissue. The areolar connective tissue contains various cells including macrophages and fibroblasts, which are scattered in a matrix of collagen and elastin fibers. Macrophages are immune system cells and fibroblasts make fibrous proteins such as collagen. The adipose tissue consists of the fat cells, which are important in helping to protect our internal organs and as a source of stored energy for times when we may be starving.
What factors impact our skin?
The condition of our skin is influenced by a combination of many internal and environmental factors, including exposure to toxins in the environment. If you have fair skin you also have a greater risk of damage from the sun.
This is because people with darker skin have more melanin pigment which helps protect against the harmful effects of UV radiation. Excess UV radiation can cause genetic changes in skin cells that can lead to skin cancer, but some sunlight is important for vitamin D synthesis. In fact, vitamin D may help to prevent some illnesses such as heart disease, and thus some sunlight exposure is necessary for good health. Internal factors also influence the health of our skin, including our genetics and hormone levels, and allergies can often manifest as skin rashes or hives.
Over time, as we age, our skin tends to become thinner and may sag and droop. This can lead to aging of the face and, in the case of women, sagging of the breasts. There are cosmetic surgeries that can deal with many of the problems associated with sagging skin. You can consult with a specialist at a clinic such as the Vera Clinic to find out what procedures can be done to tighten up skin and regain a more youthful appearance to the body.