ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Skin Structure and Function

Updated on March 12, 2011

Skin has two distinct layers. The outer epidermis is the skin's protective covering. It is made up of layer upon wafer-thin layer of tiny cells.

The epidermal cells are born in what is known as the basal layer which lies at the bottom of the epidermal bed. They begin life as soft, plump cells laden with moisture. Then, like bubbles rising through water, they move up towards the skin's surface making a tough protein called keratin (the same stuff found in hair and nails) on the way.

By the end of their journey, these cells are dried-out, flaky shells of their former selves. Glued together with a waxy intercellular sub­stance, they form the outermost stratum corneum. When the cells are tightly packed and lying flat, this layer forms an effective water- and germ-resilient barrier. Light bounces off evenly, giving skin a fresh and luminous appearance. Each day the oldest cells are sloughed away and new ones rise to take their place.

The rate at which new cells are formed and rise to the surface slows down with age. Teenage skin renews itself every two to three weeks but in our fifties it may take twice as long. But approximately every 28 days a new skin is born, giving us endless opportunities to attain perfection.

The Spring Within

The epidermis rests on a part of the skin known as the dermis which acts as a cushion. In the dermis there are two kinds of fibre - tough, resilient collagen and supple, stretchy elastin - woven together to create a springy support system.

These fibres are made by specialised cells known as fibroblasts. As we age the collagen and elastin fibres stiffen and deteriorate and these changes are primarily responsible for causing wrinkles.

The dermis is home to the oil-secreting seba­ceous glands which open on to the skin's surface through tiny pores. It also houses our sweat-secreting eccrine glands and the odour-emitting apocrine glands. The dermis is richly supplied with nerve receptors, making it highly sensitive to temperature changes and other kinds of sensory stimulation. It is fed by the thinnest blood capillaries which bring life-sustaining oxygen to the skin cells, then whisk away carbon dioxide and other cellular wastes.

Veil of Protection

In a well-balanced skin, the oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands and micro-beads of perspiration from the eccrine glands mingle to form a protective oil-in-water emulsion which acts as a natural moisturiser. Ideally skin responds to changes in humidity and temperature to create exactly the right oil and water combination needed to keep skin soft and smooth. This mantle has a slightly acidic pH value of around 5.5 which favours the presence of so-called commensal or 'friendly' bacteria that help to protect our skin from invasion by other pathogenic micro-organisms.

The best skincare regimes are those that don't overwhelm or destroy this protective mantle.

The Voluptuous Layer

Lying below the dermis is the subcutaneous fatty layer. As well as providing a useful layer of insu­lation, this fatty tissue gives skin its smooth and sensuous contours. Before reaching the dermis, nerves supplying hair follicles, sweat glands and skin receptors weave their way through the underlying fat cells. Here, too, lie the larger blood-carrying arteries and veins that branch into the tinier capillaries which feed the skin with oxygen and other nutrients.

This tissue is bathed in a clear lymph fluid which clears away cellular debris and wastes. Skin begins to look puffy if anything interferes with this inner cleansing.

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)