A Closer Look at your Bodies’ Resilient Armor
Your skin is a remarkable organ, and the body's largest, but it is often taken for granted. Most people allow their skin to get too dry, too oily, break out in rashes, or wrinkle really badly before they give it any attention.
An adult's skin comprises between 15 and 20 percent of the total body weight, and it is constantly being regenerated. A cell is born in the middle layer of the skin called the dermis, which is supplied with blood vessels and nerve endings; it migrates upward for about two weeks until it reaches the bottom portion of the epidermis, the outermost skin layer, which doesn't have blood vessels but it has nerve endings. The cell spends another two weeks in the epidermis, gradually flattening out and continuing to move toward the surface, it dies and is shed. Two billion to 3 billion skin cells are shed daily!
Your skin constitutes the first line of defense against dehydration, infection, injuries and temperature extremes. Skin cells can detoxify harmful substances with many of the same enzymatic processes the liver uses. The unbroken surface also prevents infectious organisms from penetrating into the body; as a gatekeeper, it absorbs and uses nutrients applied topically. However, because it cannot completely discriminate, the skin may absorb the synthetic chemicals often present in soaps and lotions and other skin care products, which at best, it has no use for, and at worst, can be toxic or irritating.
The epidermis, the topmost layer of the skin is the first barrier between you and the outside world. It consists of three types of cells keratinocytes (the cells that make the protein keratin, are the predominant type of cells in the epidermis, and give it its strength), melanocytes (the cells producing melanin, the pigment responsible for skin tone and color), and langerhans cells (the front door of the immune system, they prevent unwanted foreign substances from penetrating the skin). The condition of the epidermis determines how ‘fresh’ your skin looks, and how well your skin absorbs and holds moisture.
The middle layer of the skin, the dermis, is located between the epidermis and subcutaneous tissue. It is thick and comprises of a tight, sturdy mesh of collagen and elastin fibers. These are skin proteins: collagen is responsible for structural support, and elastin for resilience. The key cells in the dermis are fibroblasts, which synthesize collagen, elastin and other structural molecules. It is also responsible for the skin's structural integrity, elasticity and resilience, and, wrinkles. Anti-wrinkle treatment has a chance to succeed only if it can reach as deep as the dermis. Most collagen and elastin creams never reach the dermis because their molecules are too large to penetrate the layer. Hence, little effect of most creams, contrary to what some manufacturers of creams imply. The dermis contains capillaries (tiny blood vessels, for oxygenating and nourishing the skin) and lymph nodes (depots of immune cells, for protecting it from invading microorganisms, and sebaceous glands, sweat glands, hair follicles, and a small number of nerve and muscle cells.
The Subcutaneous tissue, the innermost layer of the skin, located under the dermis, consists mainly of fat. It acts as a shock absorber and heat insulator, protecting underlying tissues from cold and mechanical trauma they are located around hair follicles, and produce sebum, an oily protective substance that lubricates and waterproofs the skin and hair. If the sebum produced is too little, as is common in older people, the skin becomes excessively dry and more prone to wrinkling. Conversely, overproduction or improper composition of sebum, as is common in adolescents, often leads to acne.
The sun is your skin’s greatest enemy and it damages the skin significantly. Unless you protect your skin from excessive, direct sunlight, no skin care product, no treatment, no moisturizer, no vitamin, no exercise, no surgery will help you.
How wrinkled your skin is, depends largely on how much sun you have been exposed to in your lifetime. Those of us with naturally brown and black skin have more melanin pigment in our skin cells. This helps protect the skin from damage caused by the sun's UV rays. The breakdown of these fibers during aging causes the skin to lose its ability to snap back after stretching. As a result, wrinkles form.
How can you tell if your skin is sun damaged? Generally speaking, normally aged skin shows thinning, a loss of elasticity, and the deepening of normal expression lines whereas sun-damaged skin is characterized by wrinkled, yellowed, rough, leathery, and spotted skin. You can also see this difference by comparing a non-exposed area of your skin to an exposed area.
Smoking accelerates aging of your skin and increases wrinkles by narrowing the tiny blood vessels in the outermost layers. Changes from smoking can appear in young adults after 10 years of smoking.
The skin is considered the outside indicator of inside health, and putting expensive creams, lotions and treatments on the outside of the skin can't alleviate problems that stem from inner nutritional deficiencies. Consuming the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones can reveal beautiful, youthful-looking skin without the high price tag of expensive cosmetics. Wrinkles, dry or oily skin, acne, and inflammation are signs of poor internal health, often brought on by consuming unhealthful foods and no skin-healthy nutrients. To treat skin problems, most people turn to mainstream topical cosmetics, including lotions, soaps, scrubs, toners, and creams. However, treating outer blemishes with expensive, chemical-laden beauty products does little to address the root cause of the problem.
Dr. Shabihul Hassan
+234 806 016 4004