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Nov 16, 2011

Your skin at glance

What, where & why?


Your skin is the largest and one of the most important organs of your body which performs some essential functions such as protection, hydration, sensation and temperature regulation. The internal structure of your skin, however, is even more interesting. Let’s discover some of the main structural features of your own skin:

Your skin is composed of two main layers, the epidermis and dermis, that both rest on the subcutaneous (underlying) tissues.
Epidermis: It is the outer (or uppermost) layer of the skin and is made up of outer dead skin cells and deeper living cells. The melanocyte (special cells) within the epidermis produces melanin giving color to the skin and helps protect it from ultraviolet light
Dermis: The dermis is found beneath the epidermis and makes up bulk (90 percent) of your skin.
Subcutaneous layer: The epidermis and dermis sit on the subcutaneous (subcutaneous = beneath the skin) layers, composed largely of fat, through which the blood vessels and nerves run. The roots of the oil and sweat glands are located here.

Glands of skin

There are two main types of glands in your skin:
Sebaceous oil glands: These are distributed throughout the skin but are mostly concentrated in the scalp, face, mid-chest, and genitals. They are attached to the hair follicles and secrete an oily substance (sebum) that lubricates and protects the skin.
Sweat glands: These glands are distributed throughout the body but their greatest number is found in the palms, soles of the feet, forehead, and underarms. They secrete at times of stress, emotion, or in the presence of a warmer environment.

Special structures of skin

Hair: Each hair grows from a single follicle that has its roots in the subcutaneous tissue] of the skin. The oil glands next to hair follicles provide gloss and, to some degree, waterproofing of the hair. Hair also contains melanin. The number of melanin granules in the hair determines its color. Malnutrition can cause damage to the hair.
Fingernails and toenails: These are part of the epidermis and are composed of the protein, keratin. Each nail grows outward from a nail root that extends back into the groove of the skin. With malnutrition, after an injury, or chemotherapy, the nail formation is impaired.

Types of skin

Depending on your family (heredity), your genetic make-up and your lifestyle, you skin can be of one of the following types:
Oily skin: Oily skin is caused by over activity of the sebaceous glands. Oily skin is thick with large pores and has a greater tendency to develop acne, but not wrinkles. Most people, who have oily skin, also have oily hair.
Dry skin: Dry skin is caused by under activity of the sebaceous glands, environmental conditions, or normal aging. Dry skin is usually thinner and more easily irritated. There is a greater tendency to develop wrinkles, but not acne.
Balanced Skin: Balanced skin is neither oily nor dry. It is smooth and has fine texture –– with few problems. However, it has a tendency to become dry as a result of environmental factors and aging
Combination Skin:  Combination skin consists of oily regions, often on the forehead and around the nose, and regions that are balanced or dry.

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