Our Largest Organ
17 December 2021
By Dr. Robert Jens Schemmer FRCP(c)
Our skin is the most important organ system of our body. It has three primary layers - the epidermis, the dermis, and subcutaneous layer - each serves a specific and important purpose.
The epidermis is the outer layer of skin composed of 4 layers, the stratum corneum, the stratum granulosum, the stratum spinosum, and the stratum basale. All are important as they function as the body’s first line of defence against bacteria, viruses and even the environment.
When the epidermis becomes dried out, its barrier function can decrease and resulting damage can ensue. Environmental factors, climate, excess sun exposure and simple ageing can all disrupt the epidermis and its functions. Pollution and other environmental toxins can also damage your skin’s barrier function by breaking down the collagen and lipids contained within it. Studies have shown that individuals living in densely populated urban areas or cities with high levels of airborne pollutants are more prone to premature ageing, hyperpigmentation as well as other skin irritations. It is thus important to keep the outer skin cleansed and hydrated with various naturally occurring nutrients and of course avoid excessive sun exposure which can damage our skin as well.
The dermis is where most of the magic happens! Collagen and elastin make up the majority of the dermis as well as fibroblasts (the type of cells that creates collagen and elastin). The dermis layer includes blood and lymph vessels which are in charge of delivering nutrients to your skin while removing by-products or toxins. Sweat glands are also found in the dermis layer of the skin and are responsible for the sweat you produce depending on the circumstance (working to cool the body at times and/or clearing out toxins at times). The dermis also houses hair follicles (where your hair is anchored), oil glands, which produce the oil (sebum) which is responsible for keeping the skin soft and smooth, however, if in excess, can result in acne and breakouts.
This is the main supporting structure of our skin and unfortunately, as we age, this layer tends to thin out causing a number of problems including wrinkling of our skin, change in colour and texture as well as lack of elasticity. Keeping the skin in good condition, avoiding excess sun exposure and using ingredients in your skincare products can all help to delay the changes in our Dermis.
The Subcutaneous Layer
This layer of fat is the deepest layer of skin and it basically attaches your bones to your muscle and bones. It’s so deep, in fact, that active ingredients from your skincare products will never reach it.
Again this layer tends to thin as we age, but keeping in good health, exercising our muscles helps to keep this layer from thinning.’
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