What about your Skin – Part 1 – Functions

The skin is the largest organ of the body with an approximate surface are of 1.8m2 and total weight of approximately 4.5-5kg. It is obvious that one of the skin’s main functions is to hold our body together and to stop our insides from falling out, but have you ever given thought to what else the skin does for you?

Protective Barrier: Skin acts as a barrier between our insides and the outside environment, protecting the body from changes in temperature, chemicals, microorganisms and radiation.

Immunological Regulation: Due to its barrier function and acidic pH, the skin represents the first line of defense of our immune system. Skin is also immunologically active due to a number defense mechanisms present in the dermis and epidermis.

Hydration: The skin contributes to the maintenance of hydration through either the promotion or inhibition of water loss via the sweat glands.

Temperature Regulation: Skin regulates temperature in two main ways. Firstly via the sweat glands and the evaporation of sweat and water, secondly via vasodilatation (dilation of the blood vessels) which both reduce body temperature. Inhibition of water loss and vasoconstriction (constriction of blood vessels) are used to retain heat.

Detoxification: When other channels of elimination are not working effectively, it often shows up on the skin, as it represents a major organ of elimination via evaporation of sweat.

Sensation: The nerve endings and receptors present in the skin provide us with the sensory information such as touch, pain and temperature.

Vitamin D Synthesis: The skin absorbs vitamin D through exposure to UVB light from the sun.

Social Communication: Paling, blushing and other expressions regulated by the nervous system can show up on the skin, facilitating communication.

So if the skin provides us with all of these functions, don’t you think it is worth looking after? Part 2 looks at how you can improve your skin… Nourishment! 

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