The skin is an organ because it consists of several tissues and cells of different and specific functions. It is an organ of protection, first and foremost, and it changes depending on age, internal health, and external factors. Due to its specificity across different areas of the same body, the skin is a sensitive, ever-changing organ. Since the skin around the eyes is made of a thinner layer of the epidermis, it needs different care than the skin on your legs, for example.
The structure of the skin
There are three main types of layers of the skin: epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous layer. The epidermis, the outer layer, contains cells that produce the pigment (color/nuance of the skin), and they protect the immune system.
The dermis, the middle layer, contains connective tissue, capillaries, nerve tissue, and hair follicles. It also contains the sweat glands, and the body oil glands (sebum). The subcutaneous layer is the innermost layer of the skin and contains the large blood vessels, nerves, fat and connective tissues. It regulates body temperature and protects the internal organs and muscles from damaging impacts. It also produces the hormone called leptin which stabilizes the metabolism. Now that we understand how important the skin is for our survival, let’s see what are the negative factors that affect the health of the skin, and therefore, our general health.
Internal negative factors
The internal factors that can influence the health and aspect of your skin are genetics, hormones, and disease such as diabetes. Genes determine our skin type and aging process, so we cannot do much about it, except reduce the factors that would worsen our genes’ predisposition. Genes can influence our cell regeneration and biological aging; they can also determine how our sebum and sweat glands function.
Change of hormones can cause acne, especially during teenage years, or during menstruation in women. Female estrogen decreases after menopause, so the natural moisturizing function of the skin also decreases.
Some grave internal diseases can manifest at the skin level such as diabetes, cancer, and most commonly liver issues – intoxication, or bile malfunctioning. Liver issues manifest either as skin rashes or yellowish pigmentation of the skin. Hence, in many cultures, there is an old mentality that glowing, smooth skin indicates an internal healthy body. What you eat is what you are, and shown on the skin, so healthy, and vitamin-rich diets are a must for healthier skin. Other internal factors that can affect the skin are severe medical treatments such as chemotherapy. There are also viruses that affect the skin by eruption such as varicella and variola viruses.
External negative factors
External negative factors are the most known by people, because we hear about them in TV commercials, and they are highly visible at the skin level. The most common negative external factors for the skin are:
- Sunburn/UV radiation
- Excessive spray or artificial tan
- Drastic change in temperature
- Chemical products
- Excessive washing
Common skin conditions
Depressed because of acne, or depigmentation? You should know that acne and depigmentation are one of the most common skin conditions. Acne affects more than 50 million Americans annually, according to American Academy of Dermatology Association statistics. Atopic dermatitis will affect 1 in 10 people during their lifetime. 50 million men and 30 million women are affected by hair loss, according to Medline Plus, National Library of Medicine. Rosacea or redness of facial skin affects up to 16 million Americans, mostly over the age of 30. Vitiligo, another very common disease, manifesting as depigmentation or white patches on the skin surface, affects over 70 million people globally. All these skin conditions are often related to external negative factors and improper nutritional care.
The skin is a sensitive and complex organ that requires intensive care. It’s a wonderful part of our body and it is hiding even more miracles.
10 Bizarre Things You Should Know About Your Skin
- It renews itself every 28 days;
- Approximately 50% of the dust in your home is dead skin;
- Body hair growth rate is 2 to 6 years;
- The thickest skin is on the sole of your feet;
- The thinnest skin is on the eyelids;
- We lose around 20 – 100 hairs daily;
- Scars don’t have hair and sweat glands;
- Sweat doesn’t smell, but the bacteria in it does.
- The skin has its own 1000 species of bacteria;
- Babies develop their skin tone in 6 months.
The human body deserves care and respect, including the skin. This means that we need to be careful about what we eat and what we expose ourselves to, from a stressful environment to weather conditions. Don’t forget that health care is a modus vivendi.