THE FUNCTIONS OF THE SKIN
As the body’s largest sensory organ, the skin’s main task is to protect the body from external stimuli. It envelopes us like a coat and ensures that we are not immediately hurt under pressure.
Our skin also warns us of danger, such as high levels of heat or extreme cold, by using sensory responses like pain or itching.
The skin’s acid mantle also acts as a barrier for germs and parasites.
As a temperature regulator, the skin is also responsible for keeping a constant temperature within the body. When it is hot, the circulation of blood in the vessels increases and heat is released. If this isn't enough, the skin sweats and cools the body down. If it's cold, the opposite happens: the skin pumps less blood through its veins in order to keep the body warm. Every wondered why our hands and feet are the first to freeze when it's cold? This is why!
The skin may only be a few millimetres thick, but it still has enormous strength despite this. Like an onion, it has numerous layers that can be roughly categorised into three areas.
The uppermost protective covering of the skin is the epidermis, which can be subdivided into five individual layers.
The acid mantle is found on the epidermis. It keeps bacteria away and allows water to drip off the skin.
Below the epidermis are the five individual layers: the lower two constantly supply the upper three layers of the epidermis with new skin cells.
The dead cells are removed by the outer horny layer. This is how our epidermis renews itself on average about every 27 days.
Under the epidermis is the dermis: It has a dense network of elastic fibres, nerves and tiny blood vessels running through it. These blood vessels regulate the body’s heat balance. The dermis supplies the epidermis with nutrients and oxygen. This is also where the sebum, sweat and scent glands are located.
The third layer of skin is known as the subcutis. This is mainly made up of tissue and fat. The subcutis acts as a cushion from external bumps and is an important energy reserve. It links the skin with the tendons and muscles below.