Skin makes up around 12% of an adult’s body weight. It’s very adaptable and able to mould into different shapes, covering bones and muscles to perform various functions of the body’s make up.

The functions of the skin are:

  • Sensation- main sensory organ for temperature, pressure, touch and pain.
  • Heat regulation – Regulates the body temperature by sweating to cool the body down when it over heats and shivering when the body is cold.
  • Absorption – Some creams, essential oils and some medicines can be absorbed through the skin.

❖ Protection – Too much UV light may harm the skin, so the skin protects itself by producing a pigment, seen in a tan called melanin. Bacteria and germs are prevented from entering the skin by a protective barrier called Acid Mantle. The barrier also helps protect against moisture loss. Excretion – waste products and toxins are eliminated from the body through the sweat glands. Secretion – sebum and sweat are decreased onto the skins surface. The sebum keeps the skin lubricated and soft and the sweat combines with the sebum to form the acid mantle.

The skin covering the body is the largest organ of the body. The skin and all the components within the layers of skin are called the integument system. The word Integument, itself, means covering. There are two main parts that make up this system; however, it is very complex and each part has a vital role. The Epidermis, the Dermis and the subcutaneous (hypodermis)

Epidermis

The Epidermis makes up most of the tough outside layer of the skin. Epidermal cells are keratinised. Keratin is a protein which helps to give the skin it’s protective properties.

The Epidermis is made up of many layers of fibrous connective tissue, there are no blood vessels in the epidermis but it’s the deepest layer and is supplied with lymph fluid.

This skin is further divided into five, separate layers. In order from most superficial to deepest, they are the:

  • Stratum Corneum
  • Stratum Lucidum
  • Stratum Granulosum
  • Stratum Spinosum
  • Stratum Basle Stratum Corneum

This layer is composed of the many dead skin cells that you shed into the environment—as a result, these cells are found in dust throughout your home. This layer helps to repel water.

Stratum Lucidum

This layer is found only on the palms of the hands, fingertips, and the soles of the feet.

Stratum Granulosum

This is the layer where part of keratin production occurs. Keratin is a protein that is the main component of skin.

Stratum Spinosum

This layer gives the skin strength as well as flexibility. Stratum Basale

This is where the skin’s most important cells, called keratinocytes, are

formed before moving up to the surface of the epidermis and being shed into the environment as dead skin cells.

This layer also contains melanocytes, the cells that are largely responsible for determining the colour of our skin and protecting our skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation. These harmful effects include burns in the short term and cancer in the long run.

Dermis

The Dermis is considered the blood layer of the skin.

Composed of Connective Tissue Proper and heavily imbedded with Collagen and elastic fibres that provide the support and covering of all the important soft tissues of the body.

Found in the Dermis of the skin is sensory receptors, blood vessels, lymph vessels, hair follicles, and sweat glands. The exchange of nutrients and waste that feeds the skin is found in the Dermis layer.

Appendages of the Skin Glands

Along with all of the connective tissue and the cells that make up the skin as a living part of the body are additional appendages attached to the Epidermis of the skin.

Sebaceous Glands

The Sebaceous Glands are the oil glands that secret a fluid called sebum. Sebum is just an accumulation of lipids and dead cell material that is secreted onto the hair follicle (see below) or a pore of the skin. Sebum has two functions: retain moisture in the skin and hair and prevent moisture from escaping the skin.

Sweat Glands

Sweat glands are found all over the body except on the palms and soles of the feet. These glands secret Sweat which contains some blood plasma mixed in with electrolytes and waste. The secretions of these glands are regulated by the Autonomic Nervous System and we have little control over the production of sweat.

Subcutaneous(hypodermis)

This layer of skin is located on the bottom of the skin diagram. It connects or binds the dermis to its underlying organs. The subcutaneous layer is mainly composed of loose fibrous connective tissue and fat cells interlaced with blood vessels. The main functions of the subcutaneous layer is insulation, storage of lipids, cushioning of the body and temperature regulation.