Anatomy and functions of the skin
Skin is the largest organ, it covers your whole body. It consists of three basic layers, the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutis. They each have their own set of layers. The epidermis is the top layer of your skin. It is made up by the kernatinocytes which are single cells. The epidermis has four basic layers. The basal layer, the prickle layer, the granular layer, and the horny layer. Kernatinocytes hold these layers together. The epidermis has a protective function. It consists of densely packed flat cells, thicker in some areas, like the palms of the hands, which are more subject to injury. It is covered by a moist film known as an ‘acid mantle’, made up of secretions from sweat and sebaceous glands, that helps to protect from acids, alkalis and also excessive water, and to some degree from heat and friction by preventing the skin from drying out. The natural grease of the skin can be removed by solvents, in the deeper layer of the epidermis are pigment cells which produce the ‘tan’ following exposure to sunlight and protest the body from ultraviolet radiation. Some persons are more susceptible to skin damage than others, particularly the young, those with soft, sweaty skin, the fair complexioned and those with poor personal hygiene. Occupational dermatitis can affect any part of the body, but the hands, wrists and forearms are most commonly involved (Leffell, 72).
The Dermis is the second basic layer of the skin. It is made up by a protein called collagen. It makes your skin look young and healthy. When you get older your collagen starts to disappear, leading to wrinkles and saggy skin. Fibroblasts are cells that make up your collagen. These cells join the molecules of collagen together until the final collagen has been made. The dermis also has the elastin which allows your skin to flex. The dermis is also like a path for your blood vessels and lymph channels. The subcutis is the third basic layer of your skin. It is mostly made up of fat cells. Your body stores energy there.
During adolescence the skin changes, thanks to hormones. On people’s faces appear zits, whiteheads, cysts and blackheads. How do they get there in the first place? Well, the face has many sebaceous glands also called pores. Pores produce sebum, which is an oil to keeps the face from getting too dry. Sometimes problems happen like the skin doesn’t produce enough of it which makes your face dry, or a pore can clog with too much sebum and with skin cells that are already dead. The pore gets so clogged that it kind of over flows and it causes a pimple, whitehead or blackhead. This happens mostly in teenage years, because adrenal glands in women stimulate oil production. In men androgens do the same thing. This manly affects the facial skin, the back and the chest. One can also break out while in stress, because they can make the adrenal glands produce more androgens. What is the difference between whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples? Pimples are the red, inflamed bumps that appear on faces. They happen when a pore gets clogged and the skin closes over it. Then, it bulges from the skin. A blackhead is when a pore gets clogged but stays open. The top of it gets dark. A whitehead is when bacteria gets into your pore and then into your oil gland. That makes it red and then produces pus.
Normal skin has small pores. It is neither dry nor oily and is usually smooth. Dry and sensitive skin has little oil and is usually dehydrated. It has small pores and this skin type is the most prone to wrinkles. Oily skin has large pores and excessive oil. This skin type usually has more blackheads than the other types.
Skin comes in contact with dirt and dust everyday. Also, if one wears make-up, it also has grease. Sometimes make-up is used to hide facial impurities but it can also lead to more. Some types of make-up can also clog pores and lead to oiliness. Such as, powder that can reduce shininess but clog the pores. Any kind of make-up that has oil can be replaced with a water-based kind.
The best product for one’s face is based on their skin type. Cleansers are creams or lotions. They contain no soap, however they might contain a cleaning agent such as cetyl alcohol. They are not very affective to bad acne, but do get rid of oil. It should be used if one has oily skin, because dry and normal skin will become drier. Washing creams are soap that have moisturizers in them. Toners and astringents are alcohol based and their main purpose is to remove oil. The alcohol dissolves chemicals that contain fat. Some of them have menthol that adds coolness to the face for a sense of tightness. The face doesn’t really get tighter, it just makes it seem like it is. Masks minimize oil on the face and removes cells that make your pores look larger. Washing the face can cause dryness so it is good to use mild soaps. Moisturizers hydrate the face, because the drier one’s skin is the older he looks. Oil based products are okay for dry skin, but people should use water-based products if they have normal or oily faces (Drill, 109).
One of the several skin illnesses is eczema, associated with a decrease in skin surface lipid and characterized by scaly, occasionally fissured patches of dermatitis overlying dry skin. The ‘cracked’ appearance of the skin may resemble cracked porcelain. Generally seen on the extremities, occasionally on the trunk, this disorder is much worse during wintertime and in older individuals and adolescents who bathe or shower too frequently. The term ‘eczema herpeticum’ describes an acute disseminated herpes simplex infection, often associated with systemic symptoms, in patients with atopic dermatitis. The disorder usually presents as sudden deterioration of a child’s eczema. Vesicles are the most common lesions and tend to occur in crops, but presenting lesions also include pustules, papules, crusts and punched-out lesions superimposed upon a preexisting atopic dermatitis.
Eczema Solare, a common, intermittent eruption of non-scarring, erythematous itchy papules, plaques or vesicles induced by UV irradiation of sun-exposed skin. The face, neck, and the upper and lower extremities are most commonly involved. Symptoms are worse in spring and early summer. The disorder usually begins in young and mid-adult life. Allergy to sunlight, Delayed photoallergic dermatitis, Eruption.
Leffell, David J., M.D.. Total Skin. (New York: David J. Leffell, M.D.,2000)
Drill, Esther ; McDonald, Heather; Odes, Rebecca. Deal With It. (New York: Pocket Books 1999)