Skin is incredible! How does skin work?
Welcome to Be Healthy! Be Happy! Skin Health 101 – the structure and function of the body’s largest organ.
Not only does skin make up the largest organ in the body, like all other organs, optimal functioning is critical to health and well-being.
As shown in the diagram, skin is made up of the topmost layer known as the corneal or keratin layer and the epidermis, which includes melanocytes or pigment cells. Below the epidermis lies the dermis.
The dermal layer is a complex array of blood vessels, nerve endings, hair follicles and sebaceous glands that provide physical and nutritional support to the epidermis. The dermis is held together by an intricate matrix of a substances called collagen and elastin, which renders skin its durability and elasticity. The dermis also houses a complex collection of sebaceous glands, which lubricate hair follicles, the epidermis and the outermost keratin layer.
Finally, a layer of fat cells rests below the dermis providing further structural and functional integrity for this complex organ that blankets our entire body.
The importance of skin is best highlighted by summarizing its functions, which include:
- Regulating body temperature
- Protecting our internal organs from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light
- Blocking the loss of essential internal fluids
- Obstructing the ingress of harmful germs that can cause life threatening infections and
- Providing sensory awareness of the environment