About Your Skin
Like any other living tissue, if our skin is not taken care of properly, it will look unhealthy. So it is essential to understand our skin as well as its various functions. Knowledge about your skin will enable you to make decisions on how best to treat certain conditions and how to prevent any further damage.
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This is the top layer of the skin made up of epithelial cells. Its main job is protection. The epidermis does not contain blood vessels. The epidermis itself is made up of five layers or stratum.
The skin pigment, melanin is produced by melanocytes found in the epidermis. Melanin is very important for the protection of the skin from the sun. The pigment melanin gives skin color and allows the skin to tan, uneven distribution of melanin causes freckles.
The dermis is a much thicker layer than the epidermis. It is made up of a connective tissue in which blood vessels, lymph vessels, nerves, several types of glands and hair are found. The connective tissue of the dermis is made up mainly of a protein called collagen and to a lesser amount, elastin.
The subcutaneous tissue located below the dermis is the fat storage bank of the skin. The amount of fat stored varies in different parts of the body.
There are three types of glands;
- Apocrine glands are present in association with hair follicles. They are found mainly in areas where there is considerable body hair such as the underarms and the genital area. These glands are under hormonal control.
- Eccrine sweat glands are distributed widely over the skin and produce about 2 quarts of sweat in a day. These glands are also involved with the regulation of body temperature.
- Sebaceous glands are numerous in the scalp and face. They secrete sebum. Sebum forms a film, which lubricates the skin causing it to be soft and shiny. When sebaceous secretions are inadequate, the epidermis becomes dry and wrinkled but when the glands secrete sebum heaVIly, the skin becomes very oily.
- The nerve endings in the skin recognize touch, heat, cold, pain and light pressure.
- The skin helps regulate the body temperature by sweating to cool the body down when it overheats and shivering creating 'goose bumps' when it is cold. Shivering closes the pores. The tiny hair that stands on end traps warm air and thus helps keep the body warm.
- Absorption of ultraVIolet rays from the sun helps to form VItamin D in the body, which is VItal for bone formation.
- The skin protects the body from ultraVIolet light by producing a pigment called melanin.
- Waste products and toxins are eliminated from the body through the sweat glands.
- Sebum and sweat are secreted onto the skin surface keeping the skin lubricated and soft. Sweat combines with the sebum to form an acid mantle which helps the skin to fight off infection.
- Normal skin - this skin type is neither oily nor dry. It has a soft, velvety texture. Color glows under its translucent surface. People with normal skins start showing signs of age and wrinkling sooner than other types.
- Oily skin - in this type of skin, the soil-producing glands are over active. They produce more oil than is needed giVIng the skin a greasy shine. The pores are enlarged and the skin has a coarse look. It is also prone to black heads, pimples and acne.
- Dry skin - this skin type lacks both sebum and moisture. It looks thin, transparent, patchy and fragile. There may be tiny expression lines and there may even be creepiness. It flakes and chaps easily.
- Mixed skin type - this type of skin has a greasy area, while the rest is dry or normal. The T-zone, namely the forehead, nose and chin may be greasy while the rest of the face is dry. Mixed type skins are very common and are one of the most frequently misunderstood and mistreated skins. This type of skin requires separate treatment for each area.