Skin is the largest and most important organ of the body. It consists of three layers of tissue. These layers are the Epidermis, Dermis and the Subcutaneous.
Understanding Skin - The Three Layers
The outer layer of the skin plays an important role in everyday life. It acts as a barrier against aggravations such as cold weather and ultraviolet rays. It is constantly fighting to protect the other two layers of skin from any potential harm. The epidermis consists of five layers, with the deepest layer continually producing new cells. It also includes three types of cells, namely the:
- Keratinocytes - Contains lipids and keratin which is found in hair and nails.
- Melanocytes - Produces the skin pigment called melanin.
- Langerhans - Participates in the functioning of the immune system.
The dermis constantly supports the epidermis layer. It helps by eliminating waste and regulating blood circulation. It also acts as both a layer of resistance and a centre of nutrition. The dermis is four times thicker than the epidermis and links with a large number of adjoining elements in the skin, such as:
- Hair - Protects the skin.
- Sweat Glands - Produces perspiration.
- Sebaceous Glands - Generates sebum.
- Blood Vessels - Nourishes the tissue.
The hypodermis, also known as fatty tissue, is composed of adipocytes. This is where the cells are dedicated to storing fat, which represents 15% to 30% of the total body mass. The layer acts as an interface between the skin and organs such as the bones and muscles. It also helps maintain the body temperature and supports structures like hair roots.
Skin can be damaged or weakened by a range of environmental aggressors that we encounter on a daily basis. These aggressors can affect both the overall appearance of the skin and its condition. Some of the environmental factors that contribute to skin damage are:
- Ultra Violet Index (UVI) - Sun rays can damage your skin’s DNA and its natural moisture barrier, which can lead to dehydrated skin and premature ageing.
- Air Quality Index (AQI) - Pollutants such as ozone gas, diesel fuel, smoke and heavy metal emissions can weaken the skin and contribute to premature ageing and skin conditions.
- Climate Change - Harsh weather such as radically hot and cold temperatures can eliminate your skin’s natural moisture, which can lead to dryness and itchiness.
Sun Damage and Protection
The sun is one of the biggest energy sources and has the potential to damage or weaken the skin. The main types of rays that cause damage are Ultra Violet A (UVA) and Ultra Violet B (UVB). UVA rays will penetrate deep into the dermis whereas UVB rays will burn the superficial layer of the skin, which plays a key role in developing skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma.
These rays damage the surface of the skin and will increase the development of lines, wrinkles and uneven skin tones. An everyday skincare routine will help protect the skin against the damaging effects of the sun.