Skin has pigmentation, provided by melanocytes, which absorbs some of the potentially dangerous radiation in sunlight. It also contains DNA repair enzymes which reverse UV damage, and people who lack the genes for these enzymes suffer high rates of skin cancer. One form predominantly produced by UV light, malignant melanoma, is particularly invasive, causing it to spread quickly, and can often be deadly. Human skin pigmentation varies among populations in a striking manner. This has sometimes led to the classification of people on the basis of skin color. See the article on human skin color.
Mammalian skin often contains hairs, which in sufficient density is called fur. The hair mainly serves to augment the insulation the skin provides, but can also serve as a secondary sexual characteristic or as camouflage. On some animals the skin is very hard and thick, and can be processed to create leather. Reptiles and fish have hard protective scales on their skin for protection, and birds have hard feathers, all made of tough β-keratins. Amphibian skin is not a strong barrier to passage of chemicals. A frog sitting in an anesthetic solution will quickly go to sleep.
The skin is often known as "the largest organ in the human body". This applies to exterior surface, as it covers the body, appearing to have the largest surface area of all the organs. Moreover, it applies to weight, as it weighs more than any single internal organ, accounting for about 15 percent of body weight. For the average adult human, the skin has a surface area of between 1.5-2.0 square metres, most of it is between 2-3 mm thick. The average square inch of skin holds 650 sweat glands, 20 blood vessels, 1000 melanocytes, and more than a thousand nerve endings.
The dermis can be split into the papillary and reticular layers. The papillary layer is outermost and extends into the dermis to supply it with vessels. It is composed of loosely arranged fibres. Papillary ridges make up the lines of the hands. The reticular layer is more dense and is continuous with the hypodermis. It contains the bulk of the structures (such as sweat glands). The reticular layer is composed of irregularly arranged fibres and resists stretching.
Skin can be dividided into thick and thin types. Thick skin is present on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands. It has a larger stratum corneum with a higher keratin content. Thick skin does not grow hair; its purpose is to help grip. Thin skin is present on the bulk of the body and has a smaller stratum corneum and fewer papillae ridges. It has hair and is softer and more elastic. The characteristics of the skin, including sensory nerve density and the type of hair, vary with location on the body.
Functions of the skin are disturbed when it is dirty and it becomes more easily damaged. The release of antibacterial compounds decreases. Dirty skin is more prone to develop infections. Cosmetics should be used carefully because these may cause allergic reactions. Each season requires suitable clothing in order to facilitate the evaporation of the sweat. Sunlight, water and air play an important role in keeping the skin healthy.
You are never too young or too old to start taking care of your skin. In fact, skin care and protection should be an essential part of your health, fitness, and beauty regime.
If you take care of your skin, your skin will take care of you! But with all of the lotions, creams, and potions on the market, it can be difficult to know which product will work for you. Many products claim to remove wrinkles or heal dry skin. Others claim to contain expensive ingredients that they say will improve the effects of the product.
The most important way to care for your skin is to protect it from the damaging rays of the sun. Ultraviolet radiation damages the skin and can lead to wrinkles, premature aging, age spots, and cancer. Take extra precautions to make sure your skin is not exposed to the sun's rays. Use a natural sunscreen, or a moisturizer that contains sunscreen (at least SPF 15) everyday. Your skin does need some sunlight 10-15 minutes of direct exposure daily.
Dry skin is very common, especially with age. Older skin has fewer sweat and oil glands than younger skin. Dry skin may be caused by frequent baths, certain cosmetics or medications. But whatever the cause, there are ways to alleviate the itchiness associated with it. Avoid using harsh soaps when bathing, and if possible, cut back on the number of baths or showers each week. A sponge bath with warm water may help to clean and revive skin without stripping the skin of its valuable moisturizers.
A skin care routine does not have to be elaborate in order to be effective. But you should develop some kind of skin care routine based on your skin type, daily activities, and nutritional needs so that you can be sure you are taking the very best care of your skin. Following a daily skin care regime will also allow you to more closely evaluate your skin for abnormalities.
Unless your skin is very oily, you will want to use a moisturizer everyday to keep your skin hydrated and healthy. Your skin needs moisturizer all year long as both the indoor winter heat, and summer sun can be equally damaging to your skin.
Use a natural sunscreen when possible, regardless of whether or not you plan on spending much time in the sun. The sun's rays are very damaging and if you get in the habit of applying sunscreen everyday, you will never be left without protection. The suns most beneficial rays occur at sunrise and sunset.
Experts say that the amount of wrinkles that a person will develop through the years also depends on the genetic make up of this individual. However, smoking, sun exposure, dry skin, and repetitive facial expressions and mannerisms such as frowning, can all enhance the creation of wrinkles that may or may not be permanently present.
The important thing to remember when seeking out treatment for your wrinkles is to know first how your body can possibly react to the treatment. Get in touch with a skin doctor for things that you are not sure of, but are contemplating on trying out.
- An inflammatory disease of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles of the skin that is marked by the eruption of pimples or pustules, especially on the face.
- Microscopic unicellular prokaryotic organisms characterized by the lack of a membrane-bound nucleus and membrane-bound organelles.
- The sensitive connective tissue layer of the skin located below the epidermis, containing nerve endings, sweat and sebaceous glands, and blood and lymph vessels.
- The outer, protective, nonvascular layer of the skin of vertebrates, covering the dermis.
- A subcutaneous layer of loose connective tissue containing a varying number of fat cells.
- A small swelling of the skin, usually caused by acne; a papule or pustule.
- Invisible electromagnetic radiation between visible violet light and X rays.