Skin has pigmentation, provided by melanocytes, which absorbs some of the potentially dangerous radiation in sunlight. It also contains DNA repair enzymes which reverse UV damage, and people who lack the genes for these enzymes suffer high rates of skin cancer. One form predominantly produced by UV light, malignant melanoma, is particularly invasive, causing it to spread quickly, and can often be deadly. Human skin pigmentation varies among populations in a striking manner. This has sometimes led to the classification of people on the basis of skin color. See the article on human skin color.
Mammalian skin often contains hairs, which in sufficient density is called fur. The hair mainly serves to augment the insulation the skin provides, but can also serve as a secondary sexual characteristic or as camouflage. On some animals the skin is very hard and thick, and can be processed to create leather. Reptiles and fish have hard protective scales on their skin for protection, and birds have hard feathers, all made of tough β-keratins. Amphibian skin is not a strong barrier to passage of chemicals. A frog sitting in an anesthetic solution will quickly go to sleep.
The outermost epidermis is consists of stratified squamous epithelium with an underlying basement membrane. It contains no blood vessels, and is nourished by diffusion from the dermis. The main type of cells which make up the epidermis are keratinocytes, with melanocytes and Langerhans cells also present. The epidermis can be further subdivided into the following strata (beginning with the outermost layer): corneum, lucidum, granulosum, spinosum, basale. Cells are formed through mitosis at the innermost layers. They move up the strata changing shape and composition as they differentiate, inducing expression of new types of keratin genes. They eventually reach the corneum and become sloughed off (desquamation). This process is called keratinization and takes place within about 30 days. This layer of skin is responsible for keeping water in the body and keeping other harmful chemicals and pathogens out.
The dermis lies below the epidermis and contains a number of structures including blood vessels, nerves, hair follicles, smooth muscle, glands and lymphatic tissue. It consists of loose connective tissue otherwise called areolar connective tissue - collagen, elastin and reticular fibres are present. Erector muscles, attached between the hair papilla and epidermis, can contract, resulting in the hair fibre pulled upright and consequentially goose bumps.
Skin can be dividided into thick and thin types. Thick skin is present on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands. It has a larger stratum corneum with a higher keratin content. Thick skin does not grow hair; its purpose is to help grip. Thin skin is present on the bulk of the body and has a smaller stratum corneum and fewer papillae ridges. It has hair and is softer and more elastic. The characteristics of the skin, including sensory nerve density and the type of hair, vary with location on the body.
The skin must be regularly cleaned. Unless enough care is taken it will become cracked or inflamed. Unclean skin favors the development of pathogenic organisms.
The constantly peeling off dead cells of the epidermis mix with the secretions of the sweat and sebaceous glands and the dust found on the skin to form a filthy layer on its surface. If not washed away the dirt and dead skin slurry begins to decompose emitting a foul smell.
Functions of the skin are disturbed when it is dirty and it becomes more easily damaged. The release of antibacterial compounds decreases. Dirty skin is more prone to develop infections. Cosmetics should be used carefully because these may cause allergic reactions. Each season requires suitable clothing in order to facilitate the evaporation of the sweat. Sunlight, water and air play an important role in keeping the skin healthy.
The skin supports its own ecosystems of microorganisms, including yeasts and bacteria, which cannot be removed by any amount of cleaning. In general these organisms keep one another in check and are part of a healthy skin. When the balance is disturbed, e.g., by antibiotics which kill bacteria, there may be an overgrowth and infection by yeasts. The skin is continuous with the inner epithelial lining of the body at the orifices, each of which supports its own complement of flora.
Your skin is your armor, your shield from the elements. Yet when was the last time you really thought about what you need to do to take care of it? Throughout your life, genetic and environmental factors will cause a lot of wear and tear to your skin. But you are never too young or too old to start taking care of your skin.
If you take care of your skin, your skin will take care of you! But with all of the lotions, creams, and potions on the market, it can be difficult to know which product will work for you. Many products claim to remove wrinkles or heal dry skin. Others claim to contain expensive ingredients that they say will improve the effects of the product.
Dry skin is very common, especially with age. Older skin has fewer sweat and oil glands than younger skin. Dry skin may be caused by frequent baths, certain cosmetics or medications. But whatever the cause, there are ways to alleviate the itchiness associated with it. Avoid using harsh soaps when bathing, and if possible, cut back on the number of baths or showers each week. A sponge bath with warm water may help to clean and revive skin without stripping the skin of its valuable moisturizers.
A skin care routine does not have to be elaborate in order to be effective. But you should develop some kind of skin care routine based on your skin type, daily activities, and nutritional needs so that you can be sure you are taking the very best care of your skin. Following a daily skin care regime will also allow you to more closely evaluate your skin for abnormalities.
Wash your skin thoroughly on a daily basis to remove the dirt, debris, pollutants, and perspiration that accumulates on a daily basis. If you have dry or sensitive skin, use only warm water to wash your skin and use a mild natural cleanser every few days. If you have normal or oily skin, be sure to wash with a gentle cleanser on a daily basis. Be sure to brush your teeth before washing your face, as toothpaste residue can irritate sensitive facial skin.
Use a natural sunscreen when possible, regardless of whether or not you plan on spending much time in the sun. The sun's rays are very damaging and if you get in the habit of applying sunscreen everyday, you will never be left without protection. The suns most beneficial rays occur at sunrise and sunset.
Why is it that practically everyone in the middle class to the upper levels of demographics in any country are worried about getting wrinkles? Maybe it is the fear of getting old or looking old, or the wanting to look socially acceptable, or just plain vanity. We all have our own reasons. But whatever it is, everyone is united in wanting to solve this age old problem. However, in the first place, do we even have any idea about what actually causes these dreaded wrinkles? It's highly probable that we don't. The most important factor in finding a solution to any problem is finding out the root cause of it.
While it is true that physical beauty is just skin deep, it is still no reason why people, particularly women, should disregard basic skin care. Since the skin is our outermost layer, it is exposed to the harsh elements of the environment. And because it is not uncommon for people to base judgments from our cover, with the face being the first thing they look at, it is only proper that we go to great lengths to keep our skin looking clean and fresh.
- An inflammatory disease of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles of the skin that is marked by the eruption of pimples or pustules, especially on the face.
- Microscopic unicellular prokaryotic organisms characterized by the lack of a membrane-bound nucleus and membrane-bound organelles.
- The sensitive connective tissue layer of the skin located below the epidermis, containing nerve endings, sweat and sebaceous glands, and blood and lymph vessels.
- The outer, protective, nonvascular layer of the skin of vertebrates, covering the dermis.
- A subcutaneous layer of loose connective tissue containing a varying number of fat cells.
- A small swelling of the skin, usually caused by acne; a papule or pustule.
- Invisible electromagnetic radiation between visible violet light and X rays.