The skin is the largest organ of the body which has a slight coating of oil at surface that protects it against bacteria. Its total area is about 20 square feet. The skin helps regulate body temperature, permits the feelings of cold, touch and heat and protects us from germs. The color of the skin is made by cells called melanocytes, these cells are found in the epidermis and they produce the melanin pigment.
Beneath the skin is the muscle tissue, the blood vessels, sweat and oil glands and hair follicles. All these are held together by a strong tissue called collagen. Collagen determines the health of the human skin. It also determines the contour and how lined and wrinkled the skin is. A healthy collagen can absorb and hold moisture in the skin.
There is a layer of fat and muscle, beneath the collagen, which act as insulation and cushion for the skin, and also provides contour for the skin.
The human skin has three layers
This is the layer of the skin that is visible that we can see. It seals in moisture, and protects the body from infections. The epidermis is made up of many living cells which are topped by layers of dead cells. New cells are growing constantly, but they quickly die and are pushed up to the surface by the advent of new cells. The dead cells eventually disappear. The living cells are fed by the blood beneath and water is needed for the dead cells to stay smooth and plump. The epidermis differs in thickness, its inch is 1/200-th on the face and 1/20-th on the soles and palms. It contains the skin’s pigment and is responsible for the skin coloring.
This layer is made up of living cells only. It is made up of tough fibers which give the skin firmness, strength and elasticity. There are blood vessels which feed nutrients to these areas. Dermis performs an important factor which is respiration. It also determines the skin’s tone.
Also known as the lower dermis. The sweat and oil glands under this layer eliminate waste products from the skin. It consists of fine muscles of the skin which regulate the body temperature and also act as a cushion for the rest of the skin.
The skin contains the following organs
- Hairs: they grow from hair follicles and they keep your body warm by trapping air beneath them
- Sweat glands: these glands are all over your body and there are millions of them. They regulate the body temperature. The temperature of your skin drops when sweat vanishes on the skin’s surface.
- The sebaceous glands: these glands are tiny organs that open into the hair follicles on the surface of the skin. They produce sebum, an oily secretion, which acts as your skin’s natural lubricant. These glands are most condensed o the face and scalp, especially around the forehead, cheeks, chin and nose. This explains why these areas are the oiliest parts of the skin.
Our skin performs important functions in our body and these are
- Proctecting the body from physical injuries, germs, dehydration, and sun damage.
- It transmits information about surroundings via somatic sensory receptors (information like pain, heat, cold, pressure, touch, others) to the brain.
- Regulation of body temperature. For instance, it keeps or releases heat, depending on the outside of the body temperature.
- The part where the skin plays within the immune system includes destroying microorganisms.
- The skin enables growth and movement of body, bodily tissues without injury.
- The body excretes certain types of waste materials from the body. For instance, the excretion of uric acid, ammonia, water and urea.
Although our skin has wonderful qualities and performs amazing functions in our body, it is not always immune to the external and internal factors that could result to a disorder. Skin disorders greatly differ in severity and symptoms. The may be permanent or temporary, painful or painless. Some are minor and others life-threatening. Some disorders are genetic while others may be situational causes.
However, here are some common skin problems:
- Eczema: this is a skin inflammation that causes an itchy rash. This is as a result of an overactive immune system.
- Dandruff: this is a condition of the scalp that is caused dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, and others.
- Acne: acne affects over 85% of people at some time in life and is one of the most common skin conditions.
- Warts: this is a result of the skin infected by a virus and causing the skin to grow in excess, thus, creating wart. It may be treated at home by chemicals, freezing, duct tape or have it removed by a physician.
- Hives: this usually an allergic reaction. The skin becomes itchy, red and swollen.
- Ringworm: (also called tinea). This is a fungal skin infection. This infection creates rings on the skin.
- Scabies: when tiny mites crawl into the skin, it causes scabies. A typical scabies comes with an intensely itchy rash, in-between the webs of fingers, elbows, wrists, and buttocks.
- Dermatitis: this is a general term for any kind of inflammation of the skin. For instance, atopic dermatitis, which is a type of eczema, is the most common form of dermatitis.
Some of the major causes of skin problems are easily identifiable. Skin rashes can be caused by several things, plants included (for instance, poison ivy). Allergic reaction to a food, medication or illness (for instance, chicken pox or measles), including eczema and hives can also cause skin rashes.
Atopic dermatitis, the most common type of eczema, comes and goes over time. Eczema occurs when the skin is dry and sensitive. Soaps, lotions with heavy fragrances, detergents, perfumes, cleaning products and even weather can also cause eczema to occur on the skin.
Hives is caused by an exposure to an infection or an allergy. They appear in form of red bumps and welts on the body. If it persists more than six weeks, the condition is called chronic urticarial.
Contact dermatitis is when the skin reacts to things that irritate it when it is being exposed to it. These irritants could be soaps, fabric softeners, detergents, metals (could be stainless steel, alloy used to make costume jewelry and others), nail polish, plants, adhesives, topical medications, and rubber gloves. Symptoms of contact dermatitis may include burning, itching, blisters and rash.
Taking care of the skin is very vital and should be done regularly and consistently. When your skin is moisturized and hydrated, your skin will be able to defend your body strongly against viruses and bacteria as even small breaks in dry skin are entry points to viral infections and bacterial.
Here are some best practices for skin care
#Don’t ever use any cleanser or soap on skin that will leave your skin feeling dry
Alkaline base (high pH balance) that is present in some soaps, will strip water and natural oils in the skin, causing the surface of the skin to dehydrate. Our skin cells need moisture to stay healthy. Dry skin, acne and sensitivity will occur if your skin is mot dehydrated. When choosing a cleansing product, look for one that is sulfate free. These ones are safe and gentle on your skin.
#Be careful of how you sleep at night
Did you know that the second cause of wrinkles is sleeping after sunlight/UV exposure? Pressing your face into a pillow, every night for approximately 2,500 hours per year while sleeping, is you ironing wrinkles into your skin. To prevent premature wrinkles on your face, it is best you sleep on your back which is the best position to prevent any lines you make in your face in the pillow.
#Choose recommended products for your skin type
That a product worked for your friend doesn’t mean it will work for you too. Don’t buy products advertised by beauty/fashion magazines either as they might not work for you either. Use products made for your skin type in order for you to get good results.
#Exfoliate your skin regularly with an acid-based exfoliator
Salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acid are extremely good for reducing sun damage appearance. They smooth and soften the skin, clear pores and increase cell turnover rate which slows down with age. Other exfoliants are okay but not as good as these acids. These acids work within the skin pores and give stunning results to the skin.
#If your skin is prone to breakouts, avoid dairy products
When you get breakouts on your skin, avoid or reduce the intake of dairy foods ice cream, yogurt, milk and cheese for three weeks or more to get improvement on your skin.
#Wear a sunscreen everyday
The sun exposure is the number one cause of aging. UVA rays from the sun will give you wrinkles. So, to prevent cancer and wrinkles, apply a minimum of SPF 30 every day.
#Wash your face at night before bed and in the morning always
Washing face at night before you sleep helps your skin to breathe better. Washing your skin in the morning removes toxins, sebum and your nighttime products too. Your daytime products works better when you do this.
#Get 7 hours sleep at night
Sleep reduces dark circles under the eyes and lack of sleep disrupts the body’s circulatory system. Lack of sleep also makes the skin to appear tired and pale, it causes stress and stress can result to some skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis.
#Stop picking your skin
People who are prone to acne pick their skin a lot. When you stop picking your skin, you will have a less scarred skin and clearer skin.
#Clean your makeup brushes once a week:
Cleaning your cosmetic brushes a week helps to prevent breakouts. Oil and bacteria buildup in your brushes and this can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.
Exercise reduces the risk of major illness such as stroke, heart disease, cancer, untimely death, type 2 diabetes, depression, dementia and others. It also keeps your skin young and healthy and prevents quick aging.
#Eating healthy food
Eating the right way should not be complicated. Just shift your focus to healthier food and good beverage choices. Get to eat more of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk products. Include more of poultry, fish, bean, eggs, and nuts. Ensure that your diet is low in sugar, salt, saturated fats, trans fats. To get that radiant glow, keep the skin supple and soft and banish wrinkles, here are some foods you should add to your; olive oil, tomatoes, dark chocolate, oatmeal, sardines, green tea, walnuts, water, soy, eggs, pumpkin, red wine, carrots, yogurt, beans. Eating right helps you maintain or lose weight, regulates your blood sugar, decreases the risk of getting a heart disease, and also decreases the risk of getting cancer
Taking care of your skin cannot be over emphasized. When you take care of your skin regularly and consistently, your skin will be in a better condition, it will work harder for you, your youthful glow will come back, and you will get visible results. Implement the practice of taking care of your skin today, and in turn, you will be amazed at the results you will get!