Why is Skin Care Important?

Skin is one of the largest organs of your body. From protection against germs to regulating the temperature, the skin has quite a few roles to offer. When you take care of your skin, you are helping your skin perform its functions and stay healthy.

Why Skin Is Important?

To take care of your skin, it is essential to realize its importance by learning about its extraordinary structure and its role in your body. Skin is the heaviest organ of your body, covering 15% of your weight .  It is the skin that adds aesthetic value and makes humans attracted to each other. But a healthier skin does not just add beauty to your appearance; it plays a significant role in your body . 

The skin is made up of water, proteins, and lipids each of which imparts special functions. From protecting you against germs, providing a barrier against the sunlight, and storing energy to triggering a response against temperature fluctuations, skin’s importance is undeniable.

Functions of a Healthy Skin - Protection

Skin is the physical barrier to protect your body from every foreign entity. It is your first line of defense against pathogens, which can be bacteria, fungi, parasites, and other forms of germs. By forming a waterproof mechanical barrier, the skin helps keep these germs from reaching inside your body. As this barrier is waterproof, it also helps to retain moisture within the skin. The presence of moisture is one reason why germs cannot enter the skin.

The skin barrier also protects you from UV rays emitting from the sun. If it were not for the skin, the UV rays could  cause changes to the skin DNA leading to skin diseases and even skin cancer.

Functions of a Healthy Skin – Thermoregulation

Thermoregulation is the ability to keep your body temperature within certain limits no matter how extreme the outside temperature is.  

When the outside temperature is higher than your body’s, blood vessels in the skin undergo expansion, allowing more blood to flow from inside the body to the skin surface. As the blood travels, it also carries the heat to the surface. From there, the heat escapes to the outside environment, lowering the body temperature. 

When the outside temperature is lower, the blood vessels are tightened. This limits the blood flow to the skin surface, letting less heat reach the surface and escape the body. Excess heat is retained in your body, keeping you warm. 

Functions of a Healthy Skin - Sensation

Did you know that your skin helps you feel things? This perception of items coming into contact with you is called sensation. Your skin has special chemicals called receptors for sensation which help the skin recognize heat, cold, pain, and pressure. 

Have you ever tried coming close to the steam emitted from a hot liquid? It must have felt hot, and you might have moved away instantly. This is your skin receptors recognizing the heat and protecting you from severe burns. 

These receptors are also crucial to avoiding injuries from any of these factors. Imagine that your hand’s skin has damaged the skin receptors it needs to be able to tell when something is cold. If you happen to touch an ice jar with this hand, you wouldn’t feel the coldness at all. 

The Skin Structure – Epidermis

Your skin is a 3-layered structure . The outer layer is called epidermis, which is covered with tiny holes called skin pores. These pores bring the oil, which keeps the skin lubricated, and sweat, which regulates the body temperature, to the skin surface. 

Three types of cells make up this epidermis . Most of this outer layer is made up kerotinocytes or K-cells. Let’s assume K-cells are bricks. Just as multiple bricks make a wall, numerous K-cells join to form the outer layer of the skin, giving it a wall-like appearance. What is used to keep a wall intact? Cement! Lipids act like cement for the wall of K-cells to stay intact, forming a waterproof barrier.

At the base of this layer, skin regeneration occurs – the old skin cells are flaked off with the new cells replacing them. This renewal keeps your skin glowing.

Melanocytes in The Epidermis

Another type of cell that makes up the outer layer of the skin is melanocytes, which are present in the base of the outer layer. Melanocytes produce a skin pigment called melanin, which is either reddish-yellow or brownish-black in color. To perform its functions, melanin is transported from the base of the epidermis to the K-cells, near the skin’s surface .

Once melanin reaches the surface of the skin, it performs 2 functions, imparting color to the skin, and providing protection against the UV rays from the sun . The amount of melanin near the skin determines how dark the skin tone is. Because darker skin has more melanin, it is more efficient in protecting you against the UV rays.

Langerhans Cells in the Epidermis

The third group of cells present in the outer layer of the skin is the Langerhans Cells (LC). On a broader aspect, LCs are a part of your defense system and act as the first line of defense against pathogens, inflammation or redness. 

On sensing the danger signals, which may be a germ or skin trauma, LCs are turned on. They instruct your body’s defense system to produce weapons – the antibodies. Antibodies fight these danger signals to save you from severe skin infections .

The Skin Structure – Dermis

Below the outer layer of the skin is the middle layer, called the dermis. The middle layer of your skin has two layers- papillary dermis and reticular dermis. The papillary dermis is the top part layer of the dermis, where it supplies nutrients and blood to support the growth of the outer layer of your skin. It also consists of the touch receptors that facilitate your skin in sensing heat, cold and pain.

Building Blocks of Your Skin

The reticular dermis makes up the bottom layer of the dermis. It is thicker than the papillary dermis and has more responsibilities. Firstly, it harbors 2 most important proteins – collagen and elastin   , which are the building blocks of your skin.

Collagen gives strength and resilience to the skin cells, while elastin is crucial in bringing elasticity to the skin. Because of the elastin, your skin can regain its original shape after being stretched.

The reticular dermis also hosts sweat and oil glands. Sweat glands produce sweat to regulate your body’s temperature, whereas the oil glands help your skin stay soft and smooth.

The Skin Structure – Hypodermis

The hypodermis is the innermost layer of the skin, also called the subcutaneous layer. The hypodermis connects the middle layer of the skin to the bones and muscles via connective tissues. 

It also stores fat in your skin. The stored fat has 2 purposes; it cushions your vital organs such as kidneys, liver, intestines, and breasts to protect them against trauma. Secondly, it is an energy reservoir if your body runs short on food .

Together with connective tissues and fat, the hypodermis provides insulation to protect your body against extreme temperature changes. 

Overlooking the care of your skin deteriorates the skin’s structure, making it difficult to protect you, regulate your body’s temperature, or perform any other function.

If Neglected, You Will Encounter Dryness and Skin Problems

Dry skin is something that we experience very often. Harsh winds, cold temperature, low humidity, and indoor heating systems can also suck the moisture off your skin, leaving it dry and flaky. 

The dried skin does not only present a snake-like texture, it makes you vulnerable to infections. When your skin turns dry, it experiences a deterioration in its waterproof barrier. The weakened barrier leads to moisture loss, forming cracks on your skin. It then becomes easier for the germs to enter your skin through these cracks and cause skin infections .

The effects of a no skincare routine go beyond skin dryness. When you don’t clean your skin regularly, germs, dirt, and chemicals gather on your skin surface. This causes the skin pores to become clogged, which eventually leads to breakouts, pimples and acne.

If Abandoned, Your Skin Won’t Protect You from the Sun

Ever observed your skin turning dark after long hours of sun exposure? That’s your skin producing more melanin than usual. Melanin guards you against the UV rays. The more melanin, the better the protection. 

Sunlight exposes your skin to harmful UV rays. Spending a few hours outside under the sun is not an issue. However, prolonged exposure without any protection on your skin damages melanin. This renders melanin incompetent in keeping the UV rays away from your body. As a result, they penetrate deeper into the middle layer of the skin, damaging the skin cells and making collagen and elastin lose their elasticity. This causes the appearance of freckles and wrinkles on the skin .

If the proper attention is not given to the skin at this stage, the UV rays impair the skin’s DNA. Damage to the DNA mutates the cells’ genetic makeup, potentially leading to skin cancer.

If Forsaken, Your Skin Will Lose Its Glow

Your skin sheds off the old K-cells regularly and replaces them with new ones – a process that occurs in the outermost layer of the skin. Unfortunately, not every dead cell falls off your skin naturally. Some of them stay on the skin until wiped off [10].

As the dead cells aggregate on your skin, they make it greyish and patchy. The buildup of the dead cells is similar to the buildup of dust on the floor. Unless you sweep, the dust doesn’t go away. But, with a proper skincare routine, it is possible to wipe these dead cells off your skin and let it stay healthier. 

Moreover, we are exposed to polluted air daily; thanks to urbanization. Besides containing the dust particles, this air also hosts volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide. Exposure to these chemicals sabotages the collagen, leaving your skin uneven.

If Unattended, Your Skin Will Age Quicker

When the signs of aging start appearing before you hit your 40s – that’s premature aging. Premature skin aging is either intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic premature aging is the result of genetic changes. It is something you cannot influence.

However, you can take control of extrinsic premature aging. Exposure to sunlight, stress, poor dietary patterns, and a poor lifestyle contribute to premature aging  . These factors slow down the skin regeneration process. As a result, the skin loses its elasticity and thickness and it takes more time for the skin to regain its original shape.

The skin turns as thin as tissue paper. During this process, your skin becomes transparent enough that bones and veins are easily visible through it. The slackened skin also gives rise to fine lines on the skin.

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