The Function of the Skin as a Protective Barrier

The Function of the Skin as a Protective Barrier

What Is the Protective Barrier?

Have you ever thought of your skin as more than something you see every day when you look in the mirror? What could be happening underneath it? Your skin happens to be the largest organ of the body and plays a vital part in protecting your organs, tissues, and other cells.  

The skin is the outermost and largest organ humans have. Since it is consciously exposed to external elements, its primary function acts as a defense system for our other organs. Some common functionalities are providing protection from UV rays and performing antioxidant and antimicrobial functions. The skin is also an essential sensory organ and aids in the regulation of body temperature.  

Skin consists of three main layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous. Each layer has unique properties that, when combined, contribute to the skin's overall practice abilities.

How Does It Help Your Body?

Your skin is a protective barrier that  is composed of multiple layers, each working to shield your body from harmful actions and organisms. Some of the beneficial functionalities of each layer can be found below.

Epidermis

Your epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin and provides protection from infection and other environmental elements. Being the most exposed layer of your skin, it takes the brunt of the elements throughout the day. As a result, it should be catered to more frequently in order to keep its barrier-like characteristics strong and durable. SkinBarrier-Epidermis The epidermis is responsible for making new skin cells. About a month after skin cells form they reach the top, most external portion of the epidermis and eventually flake off as dead skin cells. This layer is also responsible for giving your skin its color by producing melanin, a natural pigment. If the epidermis is continuously damaged, it may lead to hyperpigmentation and discoloration of your natural skin color.

Dermis

The middle layer of your skin is the dermis and consists primarily of connective tissue. The dermis is home to your sweat glands, aiding in the process of making sweat. It is vital for regulating body temperatures and bringing blood to your skin. The dermis contains tiny tubes that travel to your pores, resulting in perspiration. Sweating allows your body to cool itself down when it is overheating and also helps expunge harmful toxins.The dermis is also the sensory organ that allows you to feel. Nerve endings from within the dermis transmit signals to your brain telling you if something is painful, irritating, or satisfying to touch.

 More tiny pockets exist in the dermis to produce oil for your skin. These essential and natural oils are what can keep your skin soft and waterproof. Since each body is unique, some people produce more or less oils than others. For those who produce more, an unfortunate side effect may be frequent acne breakouts. However, without these glands and oils your skin would be entirely too dry and brittle.

Subcutaneous

The subcutaneous layer is the bottom-most layer of your skin. It is also known as the hypodermis, hypoderm, subcutis, or superficial fascia. This layer is used mostly for fat storage. It contains loose connective tissue as well as larger blood vessels and nerve endings than that of the dermis.  

It is an important layer containing special connective tissues that attach the dermis to your muscles and bones. It also shares similar features to that of the dermis by being able to control body temperature and helping blood vessels and nerve cells. The biggest difference is its ability to store fat. This protects your body by giving it a protective, cushion-like layer to reduce impact when you fall or bump yourself.

What Damages It?

There are many ways you can damage your skin, most of which are fairly easy to avoid. Sun damage is the leading cause of skin cancer, irritations, and pigmentations. It is also the culprit of premature aging. These rays can penetrate deep into the lower layers of your skin. Without proper protection, you leave your skin extremely vulnerable to the sun's harmful UV rays.  

Alcohol and smoking can also disrupt pigmentation and can cause wrinkles on your skin. Smoke produces free radicals that can break down your skin, making it weak and dull looking. Without healthy, functional collagen fibers your skin becomes less elastic and more lines and wrinkles begin to form. SkinBarrier-DamageFromSmoking Being stressed out, overeating, depriving yourself of sleep, cuts, and picking/popping your breakouts all play major roles in damaging your skin. Your skin has a natural life cycle and all of the above interrupt it, which may result in weakened skin, more frequent breakouts, or other undesirable conditions.

How Can You Repair the Skin's Barrier?

The best way to repair and protect the organ that essentially repairs and protects you, is by developing a consistent skin care routine, as well as avoiding certain life choices that can otherwise break down the barriers of your skin.  

A good skin care routine consists of washing your face in the morning and before bed with a gentle soap or cleanser. You should always use a clean cloth and warm (not hot) water. Make sure to clean the soles of your feet in the shower, keep your nails clean, and wash your hair regularly. SkinBarrier-Repair Having a well-rounded diet is essential to keeping your body, and your skin, as healthy as can be. Eating clean, nutrient packed meals can give your skin the antioxidants and vitamins it needs to perform all its duties. Avoiding stressful situations, reducing the amount you smoke or drink, staying out of the sun, and maintaining your skincare routine are all great ways to help keep your skin healthy in the long run.