The function and structure of the skin
Our skin is more than just what meets the eye! Our skin is our biggest organ and has several important functions.
- Helps to prevent water loss from the body.
- Acts as a sensory organ, so it allows us to touch and detect temperature.
- Helps protect the body from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
- Provides a sort of cushion against bumps and shocks.
- Provides a protective barrier against the entry of microorganisms.
- Helps to control entry of foreign materials.
- Helps produce vitamin D.
Our skin is made up of three layers, the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutis.
The outermost layer between the body and the outside world. It is continuously regenerated. The main responsibility of the epidermal layer is to form a barrier to prevent invasion by specific microorganisms, chemical substances and allergens.
The epidermis itself contains several layers.These layers within the Epidermis is where Keratinocyte (Keratin) cells are formed. These cells ultimately contain a protein called Keratin, and Keratin helps provide strength to the skin.
The layer beneath the epidermis is known as the dermal layer, or dermis. The dermis is the tough inner layer, positioned immediately below the epidermis. It is much thicker than the epidermis, as it contains a protective layer of fat and has a direct blood supply.
The dermis is made up of two layers:
The papillary layer provides the epidermis with essential nutrients to help form keratinocytes. The blood vessels in this layer help to not only provide nutrients to the epidermis, but also help regulate the skin and body’s temperature, as well as remove any waste products. The reticular layer, below the papillary layer provides strength and elasticity in the skin.
Finally, let’s look at the subcutaneous layer. This sits beneath the dermis, and is made up of fat and connective tissue. The main responsibilities of this layer are to help insulate the body from cold, and to provide a cushion to internal structures of the body (such as muscles and organs). The fat present in this layer is also a good source of energy for your body.