We place most of our focus on the external when it comes to our skin. The truth is, there is so much more to our skin then what lies on the surface. My intention is that after you read this post, you take a minute to give yourself a huge hug and pause for a moment of deep gratitude for your sweet skin.
It is so easy for us to pick ourselves apart, especially when it comes to our physical bodies.
Our journey through life will take us many places, and through many stages, but the one thing that will be there to carry you through it all is your skin. Your skin is your bodies largest organ and equates for about 15% of your total body weight. Even when you are resting, your skin is working hard to take care of you- it never truly stops. Did you know that your skin:
- is your first line of defense against bacteria, bugs, allergens, toxins
- helps protect us from UV radiation by producing melanin
- helps protect your muscles, bones and internal organs from outside infection and disease
- is constantly shedding dead skin cells (30,000 to 40,000 cells every minute) and renews itself roughly every 28 days
- sends instant signals to the brain if you are hurt or injured
- instantly begins to work to heal wounds, and even produces a new (scar) tissue to quickly repair and protect
- helps with the production of vitamin D
- works to protect us by creating thickness and toughness (like a callous) in areas where there is excess friction or pressure
- is your body’s thermostat, constantly regulating your body’s temperature to keep you comfortable
- Maintaining water and electrolyte balance
- Sensing painful and pleasant stimuli
The skin keeps vital chemicals and nutrients in the body while providing a barrier against dangerous substances from entering the body and provides a shield from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun.
In addition, skin color, texture, and folds help mark people as individuals. Anything that interferes with skin function or causes changes in appearance can have major consequences for physical and mental health.
Many problems that appear on the skin are limited to the skin. Sometimes, however, the skin provides clues to a disorder that affects the entire body.
Consequently, doctors often must consider many possible diseases when evaluating skin problems. They may need to order blood tests or other laboratory tests to look for an internal disease in people who come to them with a skin problem .
Getting Under the Skin
The skin has three layers. Beneath the surface of the skin are nerves, nerve endings, glands, hair follicles, and blood vessels.
The epidermis is the relatively thin, tough, outer layer of the skin. Most of the cells in the epidermis are keratinocytes. They originate from cells in the deepest layer of the epidermis called the basal layer. New keratinocytes slowly migrate up toward the surface of the epidermis. Once the keratinocytes reach the skin surface, they are gradually shed and are replaced by newer cells pushed up from below.
The outermost portion of the epidermis, known as the stratum corneum, is relatively waterproof and, when undamaged, prevents most bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances from entering the body. The epidermis (along with other layers of the skin) also protects the internal organs, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels from injury. In certain areas of the body that require greater protection, such as the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, the stratum corneum is much thicker.
Scattered throughout the basal layer of the epidermis are cells called melanocytes, which produce the pigment melanin, one of the main contributors to skin color. Melanin’s primary function, however, is to filter out ultraviolet radiation from sunlight), which damages DNA, resulting in numerous harmful effects, including skin cancer.
The epidermis also contains Langerhans cells, which are part of the skin’s immune system. Although these cells help detect foreign substances and defend the body against infection, they also play a role in the development of skin allergies.
The dermis, the skin’s next layer, is a thick layer of fibrous and elastic tissue (made mostly of collagen, with a small but important component of elastin) that gives the skin its flexibility and strength. The dermis contains nerve endings, sweat glands and oil glands (sebaceous glands), hair follicles, and blood vessels.
The nerve endings sense pain, touch, pressure, and temperature. Some areas of the skin contain more nerve endings than others. For example, the fingertips and toes contain many nerves and are extremely sensitive to touch.
The sweat glands produce sweat in response to heat and stress. Sweat is composed of water, salt, and other chemicals. As sweat evaporates off the skin, it helps cool the body. Specialized sweat glands in the armpits and the genital region (apocrine sweat glands) secrete a thick, oily sweat that produces a characteristic body odor when the sweat is digested by the skin bacteria in those areas.
The sebaceous glands secrete sebum into hair follicles. Sebum is an oil that keeps the skin moist and soft and acts as a barrier against foreign substances.
The hair follicles produce the various types of hair found throughout the body. Hair not only contributes to a person’s appearance but has a number of important physical roles, including regulating body temperature, providing protection from injury, and enhancing sensation. A portion of the follicle also contains stem cells capable of regrowing damaged epidermis.
The blood vessels of the dermis provide nutrients to the skin and help regulate body temperature. Heat makes the blood vessels enlarge (dilate), allowing large amounts of blood to circulate near the skin surface, where the heat can be released. Cold makes the blood vessels narrow (constrict), retaining the body’s heat.
Over different parts of the body, the number of nerve endings, sweat glands and sebaceous glands, hair follicles, and blood vessels varies. The top of the head, for example, has many hair follicles, whereas the soles of the feet have none.
3. Fat layer
Below the dermis lies a layer of fat that helps insulate the body from heat and cold, provides protective padding, and serves as an energy storage area. The fat is contained in living cells, called fat cells, held together by fibrous tissue. The fat layer varies in thickness, from a fraction of an inch on the eyelids to several inches on the abdomen and buttocks in some people.
4. Your sweet skin
Pretty impressive, right? So the next time you find yourself gazing at your reflection, washing your body and face, applying your serums etc, keep these things in mind. And each time that you touch your sweet skin, do so with tenderness, gratitude, and love. You are precious- precisely as you are, in your skin.