Everyone has some kind of skincare routine. We wash, scrub, moisturise and scent our skin daily. Because we take particular care taken of the skin, and seek out and use special products to maintain it, it is easy to think of the skin as a standalone organ. However, the skin has a close relationship with the rest of our body, each affecting the other.
The skin protects the body in a variety of ways. Likewise, a number of internal body functions have a direct influence upon the skin. For example, oily skin is caused by oil gland hyperactivity. Pigmentation problems are due to the tyrosinase enzyme, and are regulated by hormonal functions. Given this relationship between the skin and the body, it is understandable that overall health is important to maintaining good skin, and that this includes nutrition, exercise, and rest.
But what exactly does the Skin do for Us?
As the body’s largest organ, the skin performs a series of key tasks:
- 1) The skin is a barrier, protecting the body from the elements and injury.
- 2) The skin also protects internal organs from exposure to oxygen. Without the skin, the body’s organs would rapidly oxidize, much like a peeled banana or apple does if left exposed to air.
- 3) The skin helps maintain a constant body temperature through the regulation of moisture loss.
- 4) The skin gathers sensory information. It contains a large number of nerve endings that make it sensitive to touch and which allow us to feel cold, heat, and pain.
- 5) The skin has an active role in the immune system, protecting us from disease.This is primarily through the Langerhans cells, which carry antigens from the skin to the lymphatic system. Excessive UV radiation either destroys or inhibits the performance of Langerhans cells, increasing the risk of skin cancer.
- 6) The skin excretes several harmful substances that are produced by the metabolic activities of the intestine and the liver.These harmful substances are eliminated from the body by the secretion of sweat and sebum.
- 7) The skin also secretes hormones and enzymes.