The Anatomy of Skin

Skin is an organ with 3 layers.
The Subcutaneous layer
The Dermal or dermis layer
The Epidermis layer

The Epidermis layer is further divided into 5 layers.
Listed below, lower layer first:
Stratum basale
Stratum spinosum
Stratum granulosum
Stratum licidum
Stratum corneum

The Subcutaneous layer is the place where blood vessels and nerve fibres enter the skin organ and where hair follicles and sweat glands are rooted. It is also the area where excess fat and toxins are stored.

The dermal layer, or dermis, is where the sensory nerves lie, where the sebaceous glands attach themselves to the hair follicle and where the tiny muscles attach themselves to the hair follicle and to the baseline of the dermis and epidermis. The dermis also contains a matrix of collagen and elastane fibres that provide a strong (collagen) and flexible (elastane) support structure for the epidermis layer.

The Epidermis is where new skin cells grow and die.
In the stratum basale – new skin cells are born
In the stratum spinosum – the new skin cell is full of NMF (natural moisturising factor) keeping it plump and moisturised
In the stratum granulosum – the NMF collects towards the outer walls of the cell
In the stratum licidum – the NMF begins moving through the walls of the cell to the outside making it look translucent
In the stratum corneum – the cell has lost its NMF and this is now outside the cell and providing a ‘glue’ to keep the now dead cells together. Eventually the cells begin to detach from the NMF and flake off.

The collagen and elastane fibres in the dermis begin to break down when the body begins to age. This makes the upper layer of the stratum corneum lose its support structure and it starts to crack causing lines to appear on the surface. The deeper the layer of this stratum corneum, the deeper the crack or fine line.

If the layer of the stratum corneum can be reduced the fine line won’t appear to be so visable. For this reason exfoliators are used to reduce the appearance of fine lines.

As the skin is absorbant, it is hoped that Vit C can be introduced into the skin to support the collagen fibres and that Vit E can be introduced to support the elastane fibres. If this fine matrix of collagen and elastane fibres can be adequately nourished then the epidermis can keep its support structure and the stratum corneum will not crack so readily.

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Skin provides many functions:
1 Support structure to hold muscles and organs in place hence its need to be strong (collagen) and stretchy (elastane).
2. Sweat to keep the body cool
3. Sweat to rid the body of toxins
4. Hairs with tiny muscles to allow the hairs to lie flat to cool and to raise the hairs up to trap air to keep body warm.
5. Sebaceous glands to keep the skin lubricated and soft
6. Sebaceous glands to provide bacteria to kill infections on the skin
7. Blood vessels to provide heat to keep the body warm
8. Dead skin cells that flake to lose the bacteria when it has done its job and to release dirt attached to them by allowing the dirt and the skin cell to shed.
9. Skin is an indicator of health as it shows itself as pale – poor blood circulation, dehydrated – dull, flat, and hollow eyed, lack of sebaceous and sweat secretions, cool or hot or discoloured – yellow when the body is not well.
10. Skin absorbs so is useful for administering drugs ie analgesic creams.
11. Skin cells also produce melanin, the pigment that gives the skin a dark colour. The melanin is stimulated by the sun on the skin in the stratum basale and melanin is released. This darkens the skin so protecting the skin from burning. The darker the skin, the more melanin has been produced.
12. Production of Vitamin D by the action of sun stimulating cells in the skin layers.
13. Pain, heat, cold and touch are all detected in the skin by the nerves.
14. Dead skin layer to protect from the harmful rays of the sun.

So as the skin is so important it follows that it is important to look after it.

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