Skin health is of great concern as it is the main part of integumentary system and acts as a shield for entire body. Integumentary system is the outer most layer of all mammals including human being bodies. It consists of the body parts like skin, nails, hair, many glands and nerves.
Integumentary system acts as a shield for entire body. It performs the following functions –
- Skin protect from invasion of pathogens like bacteria, infectious elements etc.
- It protect body internal organs from accidental injury.
- It prevents body from harmful UV rays of sunlight.
- Skin also regulate the body temperature.
- It allows to feel sensations of touch, pain and temperature.
- Nails protect the ends of fingers and toes. In other animals, nails help in gripping and cutting of pray and hunting.
If extended, the skin of an average adult will cover about 20 square feet of surface area and adds up to 15% of body weight. An average square inch of skin contains approximately 650 numbers sweat glands, 20 numbers blood vessels and 1000 numbers of nerve ends.
Skin mainly consisting of three layers of tissues. These are –
Epidermis layer performs the following functions –
- Acts as a protective layer from invasion of bacteria and germs and thus prevent from infections. It also protects from nature and climate against rain, sun and other elements.
- Epidermis continually makes new cells. These new cells replace old skin cells which body sheds every day. Human body sheds approximately 500 million of dead skin cells every day.
- This skin layer contains Langerhans cells which are the part of human body immune system to fight against infections.
- Epidermis contain Melanocytes cells containing a pigment called melanin. Melanin prevents skin from sunlight UV rays and decides the color of skin, hair and eye. A high melanin content results in dark skin.
It is the middle and thickest layer of skin. It is further divided into two regions –
- Papillary region – This region contains loose connective tissues. It has finger like structure projecting into the epidermal layer. These projections give cushion and bumpy surface.
- Reticular region – This region contains dense, irregularly organized connective tissues. Protein fibers present in this region give the skin strength and elasticity.
Dermis layer performs the following functions –
- Dermal layer cells contain collagen proteins which make skin strong and resilient.
- This layer cells also contain protein called elastin which makes skin flexible.
- Roots of hair follicles remain attached to dermal layer. Thus it helps in growth of hair.
- Nerve receptors present in the dermal layer gives sensation of temperature, touch, itchy, softness and pain.
- Mechanoreceptors present in dermis layer senses mechanical pressure.
- Nociceptors present in dermis layer senses pain.
- Thermo-receptors present in dermis layer senses temperature.
- Sebaceous oil glands are present in the dermis produce an oil called sebum which keep the skin soft and smooth and prevent from absorbing of water moisture. Sebum and sweat together make up a waterproof covering to skin.
- Sudoriferous glands also called Sweat glands in the dermis release sweat through skin pores which helps to regulate body temperature.
- Blood vessels present in the dermis provide nutrients to skin.
It is the bottom most fatty layer of skin also called subcutaneous layer.
Hypodermis layer performs the following functions –
- Fat present in hypodermis layer protects muscles and bones from accidental injuries.
- Connective tissues present in this layer connects skin to muscles and bones.
- It regulates body temperature.
- Fat present in the hypodermis layer keeps body safe from environmental heat and cold.
A diagram showing the anatomy of skin is given below.
Human body skin performs following vital functions –
- Skin provides a protective barrier against mechanical, thermal and physical injury and hazardous substances. An immune organ to detect infections etc.
- It protects against attack of pathogens. Langerhans cells in the skin are a part of immune system.
- Skin prevents loss of moisture content from body. Acts as storing of fats and water.
- Skin reduces harmful effects of UV radiation from sunlight and helps in production of vitamin D.
- It acts as a sensory organ through nerve endings that detect temperature, pressure, vibration, touch, and injury.
- Skin is water resistance thus prevents loss of nutrients by washing away from the skin during bathing.
- It helps in thermoregulation of body by producing sweat and dilating blood vessels, which helps keep the body cool.
Various problems related to human skin are –
- Skin allergies like contact dermatitis and rashes are most common. Most rashes causes skin irritation.
- Dermatitis is the inflammation of the skin. Atopic dermatitis also called eczema is the most common form. It causes due to overactive body immune system.
- Psoriasis is an auto-immune condition which causes many skin rashes like scaly plaques.
- Dandruff is a scaly condition of the scalp due to dermatitis or eczema.
- Acne or pimples are the most common skin problem faced by 85% of people.
- Cellulitis is a painful skin rash with inflammation of the dermis and subcutaneous tissues.
- Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer which results from sun damage and other causes.
- Herpes viruses HSV-1 and HSV-2 causes skin irritation around the lips or the genitals.
- Hives causes reddish, raised and itchy patches on the skin usually result from an allergic reaction.
- Scabies are tiny mites remain burrow into the skin. It forms intensely itchy rash in the webs of fingers, wrists, elbows, and buttocks.
- Tinea is a ringworm fungal skin infection affects skin health.
- Dry skin and insect bites such as bug bites, spider bites, mosquito bites etc.
- Skin lesions such as moles, freckles and skin tags.
- Wounds and burns including sunburns.
Collagen and elastin proteins gradually decreases as human grow and get older. This causes middle dermis layer to get thinner. As a result, the skin sag and wrinkles develop. However, these actions can help to maintain healthier skin –
- Use Sunscreen – Avoid exposure to excessive sun heat. Use sunscreen with a broad-spectrum sun protection factor and protective clothing.
- Avoid Smoking – Smoking makes wrinkles and skin look older. It narrows the tiny blood vessels in the epidermis layer which decreases blood flow and the skin suffer from deficiency of oxygen and nutrients important for skin health. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin fibers that give skin strength and elasticity.
- Use Cleansers – Avoid using of strong soaps and detergents which can strip oil from skin. Instead, use of mild cleansers is recommended.
- Use Shaving lotion – Shave carefully. Use shaving cream, lotion or gel before shaving. Shave in the direction the hair grows and not in opposite direction.
- Use healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, vitamins, anti-oxidents and lean proteins. A diet rich in fish oil supplements and refined carbohydrates promote glowing skin.
- Hydrate Skin – Drinking of plenty of water helps to keep skin hydrated and glowing.
- Avoid Tanning of skin which causes skin damage. Soothe skin with coconut oil.
- Avoid stress and take enough sleep which results relief from certain worse skin conditions.
- Shower regularly and apply moisturizing lotion to prevent dry skin.
- Use Aloevera to keep skin strong and healthy. Aloevera has healing effects and stimulates new cell growth. It also soothes and moisturizes the skin.