FUNCTIONS OF THE SKIN

The skin has many functions, these include:

Secretion – The skin secretes sebum from the underlying sebaceous glands. This natural oil helps to keep the skin supple.

Heat Regulation – The body temperature is regulated through the skin. Sweating helps to cool the skin, while shivering helps to warm the body up.

Absorption – Substances can be absorbed through the skin which can be transported into the blood stream.

Protection – The skin acts as a protective barrier against germs and bacteria. The skin also contains Melanocytes which produce Melanin, and this helps protect the skin against UV radiation.

Excretion – The skin contains sweat glands which help to excrete excess waste and toxins out of the body.

Sensation – The skin contains thousands of nerve endings which act as sensors for pain. Heat or cold.

Vitamins – The skin helps make Vitamin D which Is created by a chemical reaction to Sunlight

THE STRUCTURE OF THE SKIN

The skin is the largest organ of the body. The skins purpose is to protect the internal organs from bacteria or UV radiation, and it is made up of three main layers:

The Hypodermis

The Dermis

The Epidermis

The Hypodermis

The Hypodermis is also referred to as the subcutaneous layer, it consists of Adipose tissue that contains fat cells along with elastin fibres that help make this layer flexible. This fatty layer acts like a cushion and protects the muscles, bones and internal organs from shocks or blows. This layer also acts like an insulator and stores energy for when it is required.

The Dermis

The dermal layer sits on top of the Hypodermis layer and below the epidermis. It is broken into two separate layers the first being the superficial papillary layer and the second is the Reticular layer. The Dermis is made up of Elastin and Collagen Fibres that are interwoven and allow the skin to expand and contract. The Dermis also contains hair follicles, blood capillaries, nerve endings, fibroblasts, mast cells and lymphocytes.

The Epidermis

The Epidermis is made up of five layers and takes four weeks to renew itself. The five layers are:

Stratum Granulosum, the outer most layer of the Epidermis it is in this layer that the cells begin to die and shed. The cells have lost most of their moisture.

Stratum Lucidum consists of two to three rows of dead translucent cells and is only seen in the thick skin of the palms and soles.

Stratum Spinosum consists of eight to ten rows of rounded cells which fit together by short prickles that project from each cell. They are also known as Prickle cells.

Stratum Basale layer is a single row of cells that rest on a membrane that separates the Epidermis layer from the Dermis.