Skin Explained

Skin Diagram at Eden Skin & Laser Clinic

Although we may not think it, our skin is actually an organ, the largest one in our body, in fact, weighing almost 8lbs and if laid out covers some 22sq feet. It is an intricate system of layers, glands and nerves that protect us but enables us to respond to the the outside world. Skin acts as a waterproof, insulating shield, guarding the body against extremes of temperature, damaging sunlight, and harmful chemicals. It also exudes antibacterial substances that prevent infection and manufactures Vitamin D for converting calcium into healthy bones.

Skin additionally is a huge sensor packed with nerves for keeping the brain in touch with the outside world. At the same time, skin allows us free movement, proving itself an amazingly versatile organ. Skin is made up of three layers. The outermost is the epidermis. This consists mainly of cells called keratinocytes, made from the tough protein keratin (also the material in hair and nails). Keratinocytes form several layers that constantly grow outwards as the exterior cells die and flake off. It takes roughly five weeks for newly created cells to work their way to the surface. The epidermis is bonded to a deeper skin layer below known as the dermis, which gives the organ its strength and elasticity thanks to fibers of collagen and elastin. Blood vessels here help regulate body temperature by increasing blood flow to the skin to allow heat to escape, or by restricting the flow when it’s cold. The dermis houses a network of nerve fibers and receptors along with hair follicles and glands with ducts that pass up through the skin. The skin’s base layer is the subcutis, which includes a seam of fat laid down as a fuel reserve in case of food shortage. It also works as insulation and cushions us from knocks and falls.

Skin color is due to melanin, a pigment produced in the epidermis to protect us from the sun’s potentially cancer-causing ultraviolet (UV) rays. Dark-skinned people produce more numerous and deeper-colored melanin particles. People with the darkest complexions are native to tropical regions, particularly those with few densely forested areas. Fair skin is an adaptation found in people from northern latitudes where solar rays are relatively weak. Here the benefits of dark skin are outweighed by the need for bone-strengthening Vitamin D, produced through exposure to UV rays. But hotter, sunnier environments bring the risk of serious skin damage. Australia, where the majority of the population is of northern European descent, has the world’s highest rates of skin cancer, accounting for more than 80 percent of all cancers diagnosed there each year.

It is important to look after your skin. At Eden Skin & Laser Clinic we have a range of fantastic skin treatments to help you look after this important organ and feel fresh and renewed.

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