How Does Skin Protect the Body
The skin is the largest organ of the human body. It covers the body from head to toe. It is responsible for many vital functions of the body.
The skin holds together the entire human body as a single entity. It plays an important role in protecting and keeping our body healthy.
The human skin is made of three layers -
- subcutaneous layer
The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin. It is the very first layer of protection for the body. It protects the body from external damage. This layer also has pigments that determine the color of the skin.
The dermis is the layer below the epidermis. This layer has connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands.
The subcutaneous layer is made up of collagen and fat. This layer cushions the body and acts as a shock absorber.
Each layer of the skin protects the body in different ways.
Barrier against germs
The skin has many embedded hair follicles. The root of the hair is embedded in these hair follicles. Each of the follicles has two sebaceous glands or oil glands on either side.
The sebaceous glands produce an oily substance called sebum. The sebum keeps the skin from drying out and cracking. It also helps to retain moisture within the skin.
When the skin dries and cracks, germs can easily enter through the openings and infect the body.
The sebum also makes the skin acidic. This helps to kill the germs because germs cannot survive in an acidic medium.
Protection from UV Rays
The skin has cells that produce melanin. These cells are called melanocytes and are found at the base of the epidermis. When skin is over-exposed to the sun, then these cells produce a pigment called melanin that helps in absorbing the harmful UV rays of the sun.
Helps to respond to sensations
The dermis layer of the skin has nerve endings embedded within. These nerves receive stimuli from the brain and send back signals to the brain.
Nerves are responsible for the different sensations felt by the skin; they also help the brain to decide the course of action to be taken by sending and receiving signals to and from the brain.
For example, when you touch a hot object, your brain commands you to remove your hands from the object, or when you receive a shock, the brain commands you to let go.
Your body is protected from extreme heat or extreme cold by the skin. Skin plays a vital role in maintaining constant body temperature. Your body can be overheated or become very cold without the skin.
The skin has roughly about 2.5 million sweat glands. These sweat glands produce sweat when the temperature of your body rises above 35 degrees centigrade.
When you run around or workout, your body becomes hot. When this happens, pores on the skin open up, and the heat is let out of the body in the form of sweat. This helps your body to cool down.
When the weather becomes extremely cold, then the pores on the skin close and prevent heat from escaping from the body. It also helps to keep the body's essential fluids inside without evaporating.
Skin also helps by pulling in the muscles around the hair shaft so that the pores on the skin close to prevent heat from escaping. This is why we get goose pimples when it is very cold.
Protects the immune system of the body
The skin protects the immune system of the body. It is the first layer of protection and acts as a barrier against infections. The skin has special immune cells called Islets of Langerhans that destroy the source of the infection. It also protects the body by filtering out the infection source.
© 2013 Nithya Venkat