The skin is
the largest organ of the body and is made up of 80% water, and fifteen
per cent or more of this is in the dermis. Weighing in at 7 to 9
pounds, the skin measures an average of 20 square feet. Within one
square inch of skin there are 650 sweat glands; 65 hair follicles;
19 yards of capillaries; 78 yards of nerves and thousands of sensory
nerves. All of this in a thickness equivalent to a few sheets of
The skin serves
a multitude of purposes. The most obvious of these functions is
to protect the body systems and internal organs from injury, heat,
invasive chemicals and light exposure. The skin also acts as a temperature
regulator, enabling the body to adapt to different temperatures
by controlling moisture loss.
layer of your skin--the part you see and skin care and beauty products
work on--depends for its youthful looks and resilience on a constant
supply of water from the lower layers and its ability to retain
that water without losing too much through evaporation.
Also up there
on the surface, sebum (the fatty secretion of the sebaceous glands),
sweat and evaporating water mingle to form a slightly acidic, protective
emulsion called the hydro-lipidic film which in turn helps to prevent
excessive evaporation of water. It's a perfect irrigation system
when all is working well, but so much can upset it.
Even a normal
skin can dry out if it spends most of its days stuck in the dry
atmosphere of many air-conditioned buildings or goes through a long
winter of temperature changes from over-enthusiastic central heating
indoors to icy cold and skin-stripping winds outside.
All the hormonal
changing conditions such as periods, pregnancy, menopause, and even
the Pill, can throw out the natural balance of your skin. Other
culprits might be air travel, a holiday in the sun, drastic dieting
and over-harsh or poor cleansing processes. Illness, even a relatively
minor one that's treated with over-the-counter medication, can change
your skin's behavior.
and the skin's natural moisture content diminish as we grow older.
And a down period at any time in your life when you're short of
sleep, eating irregularly or living with negative stress can play
havoc with your skin.
static on the skin front and you may be weary of hearing talk of
dry, oily or combination skin when yours seems to vary from day
to day, and certainly from season to season. But you really do have
a basic type, which will naturally move to drier, wherever it starts,
as the years go by.
of the skin, the part that is visible to the naked eye and upon
which skin care products are applied, is in fact a covering of dead
skin cells. Under this surface, the many functions of the skin take
place through three thin yet very distinct layers of cellular tissue--the
epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous.
layer is responsible for the look and health of the skin, as well
as protecting it from moisture loss and penetration of bacteria.
The epidermis gives the skin its glow, suppleness, youthfulness
and texture. This is also where signs of poor diet, smoking, excess
sun exposure and free radical damage are visible.
In the layers
of the epidermis, skin cells develop and are generated to the surface
over the course of time. It takes approximately 28 days for a new
cell to generate to the surface of the skin where it becomes flat
and eventually will be exfoliated naturally or through cosmetic
second layer of the skin is much thicker and more resilient than
the epidermis. This layer serves two principle functions. One is
the nutrition of the skin through its network of blood vessels and
capillaries. The second is the formation of a supporting framework.
The dermis gives the skin elasticity.
This is the skin's third and last layer. It is highly elastic and
has fat cells (adipose) acting as "shock absorbers," thus
supporting delicate blood vessels and nerve endings. It is in this,
the deepest layer that collagen collapses or wrinkles develop first.
There are two
types of glands within the skin directly related to the ability
of the skin to hold onto its own moisture. The first is the oil
gland or sebaceous gland. The primary function of the oil gland
is to secrete oil or sebum. This oil lubricates the surface of the
skin and serves as a barrier against moisture loss.
production is associated with the appearance of acne while the lack
of oil secretion is associated with dry skin. The disproportionate
distribution of oil on the face is caused by a greater number of
oil glands on the forehead, nose and chin than on the sides of the
The sweat glands or eccrine/suderiferous glands, function as a cooling
system for the body releasing moisture onto the skin surface. The
most vital fluid to the skin is its water content. The water distribution
on the face is in far greater proportion to the skin, but it is
the skin's ability to hold onto its water that is most significant.
As this moisture mixes with oil on the skin's surface, the skin
develops routine characteristics or skin type.
Normal to Oily - Combination
Generally balanced with tendency to have shiny, oily patches. Prone to blemishes or acne.
Normal to Dry - Combination
Generally balanced with the occasional tendency to be dry or flaky.
Oily - Blemish Prone
Skin tends to be oily, shiny, or feel unclean. Pores often congested
or enlarged. Prone to blemishes.
Dry - Damaged
Skin may feel tight, drawn, flaky and unable to retain moisture.
May be wrinkled or sun damaged.
Pale, thin, red, irritated, allergic or inflamed skin. May appear
blotchy or flushed.
A rash is an
area of red, inflamed skin or a group a individual spots. These
can be caused by irritation, allergy, infection an underlying disease,
as well as by structural defects--for example blocked pores or malfunctioning
oil glands. Examples of rashes include acne, dermatitis, eczema,
hives, pityriasis rosea, and psoriasis.
· Viral infections
when a virus penetrates the stratum corneum and infects the inner
layers of the skin. Example viral skin infections include herpes
simplex, shingles (herpes zoster) and warts. Some systemic viral
infections, such as chicken pox at measles, may also affect the
skin. Viral infections cannot be cured with antibiotics.
· Bacterial infections
are caused by a variety of bacteria, the most common types being
staphylococ streptococci. Bacteria may infect the topmost layers
of skin, the follicles, or the deeper layers of skin. If not treated
correctly, these infections may spread throughout the body. Examples
include impel folliculitis, cellulitis, and Lyme disease. Antibiotics
are effective against bacterial infections.
· Fungal infections
are always present on surface of the skin, and infection occurs
when these organisms enter into the body. These infections are usually
superficial, affecting the skin, hair, and nails; examples include
athlete's foot, jock itch, and ringworm. However, in people with
suppressed immune systems or who have been taking antibiotics long-term,
the fungi may spread to deep within the body, causing more serious
· Parasitic infections
occur after exposure to parasites such as lice, fleas and scabies.
· Pigmentation disorders
The amount of
pigment in the skin is determined by the amount of melanin being
produced by the body. Loss of pigment (hypo pigmentation) can be
caused by an absence of melanocytes, malfunctioning cells, exposure
to cold or chemicals, or some types of infection.
in pigment (hyperpigmentation) may be caused by skin irritation,
hormonal changes, aging, a metabolic disorder, or another underlying
problem. Age spots, freckles, and melasma are examples of hyperpigmentation;
vitiligo is an example of hypopigmentation.
· Tumors and cancers
arise when skin cells begin to multiply faster than normal. Not
every skin growth is cancerous: Some tumors are harmless and will
not spread. Skin cancer is the most common of all the cancers, affecting
800,000 Americans each year. It is caused, in 90 percent of cases,
by sun exposure.
The three types
of skin cancer are basal cell cancer (the most curable), squamous
cell cancer (which may grow and spread), and malignant melanoma
(the most deadly form). Prevention involves protecting the skin
against damaging ultraviolet rays. Early detection helps to improve
the chances of a cure, so regular self-examinations are recommended.
an injury to the skin caused by a blow, cut, or burn. Any time the
surface of the skin is broken, the body becomes more susceptible
to infection and disease.
spider veins, and varicose veins are among those conditions that
cannot be neatly categorized. Wrinkles are caused by a breakdown
of the collagen and elastin within the dermis, which results in
Rosacea is a
long-term disorder in which the skin of the face becomes red and
develops pimples, lesions, and more rarely enlargement of the nose.
Its cause is unknown. Spider veins and varicose veins become apparent
when blood vessels enlarge and become visible through the surface
of the skin.
or blackheads, are a worm-like mass of keratinized cells
and hardened sebum appearing most frequently on the face, chest,
shoulders, and back. Blackheads accompanied by pimples often occur
in youth. The activity of the sebaceous glands is stimulated, thereby
contributing to the formation of blackheads and pimples.
When the hair
follicle is filled with an excess of oil from the sebaceous glands
and an accumulation of dead cells occurs, a blackhead forms and
creates a blockage at the mouth of the follicle. Should this condition
become severe, professional attention is necessary.
To treat blackheads,
the skin's oiliness must be reduced by local applications of cleansers
and the blackheads removed under sterile conditions. Thorough skin
cleansing each night is a very important factor. Cleansing lotions
often achieve better results than do common soap and water.
or whiteheads, is a disorder of the sebaceous glands caused
by the accumulation of dead, keratinized cells and sebaceous matter
trapped beneath the skin. This may occur on any part of the face,
and occasionally on the chest, shoulders, and back. Whiteheads look
like small grains of sand under the skin.
is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the skin, usually related
to hormonal changes and overactive sebaceous glands during adolescence.
Common acne is also known as acne simplex or acne vulgaris.
of any human population will experience some manifestation of acne.
Twenty-five percent of them will have acne serious enough to merit
some form of treatment, professional or otherwise.
economic, and psychological effects of acne can be painful. For
many sufferers, acne causes depression and gets in the way of social
and sexual relationships.
vigorous washing is good treatment. Acne flare-ups are caused by
emotional stress. If one can live a stress-free life, the condition
of the skin will certainly improve.
is good/bad for the skin and excessive/infrequent sex causes blemishes
to develop. Certain foods cause acne breakouts. Avoiding these foods
is essential to clear skin. All of these mistaken notions show quite
clearly that today's youth and many older people as well still cling
to outmoded ideas about the causes and treatment of acne.
Acne appears in a variety of different types, ranging from non-contagious
pimples to deep-seated skin conditions. Though acne generally starts
at the onset of puberty, it also afflicts adult men and women.
show that acne is often due to heredity, but the condition can be
aggravated by emotional stress and environmental factors.
a well-balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, and developing healthful
personal hygiene habits are all recommended. Acne is not caused
by any particular food, drink, or personal habit.
Acne is accompanied
by blackheads, pustules, and pimples that are red, swollen, and
contain pus. The pus is seen as a yellowish or white-tinged center
in some blemishes. In more advanced cases of acne, cysts appear,
which are red, swollen lumps beneath the surface of the skin.
is a skin condition caused by over-activity and excessive secretion
of the sebaceous glands. An oily, or shiny, condition of the nose,
forehead, or scalp indicates the presence of seborrhea. It is readily
detected on the scalp by the unusual amount of oil on the hair.
Seborrhea is often the basis of an acne condition.
formerly called acne rosacea, is a chronic inflammatory congestion
of the cheeks and nose. It is characterized by redness, dilation
of the blood vessels, and the formation of papules and pustules.
The cause of rosacea is unknown. Certain things are known to aggravate
rosacea in some individuals. These include consumption of hot liquids,
spicy foods or alcohol, being exposed to extremes of heat and cold,
exposure to sunlight, and stress.
or sebaceous cyst, is a subcutaneous tumor of the sebaceous
glands, ranging in size from a pea to an orange, the contents consisting
of sebum. It usually occurs on the scalp, neck, and back.
is a condition of dry, scaly skin, characterized by absolute or
partial deficiency of sebum, usually due to aging or bodily disorders.
In local conditions, it may be caused by alkalies, such as those
found in soaps and washing powders.
also called a boil, is caused by bacteria that enter the skin through
the hair follicles. It is a subcutaneous abscess that fills with
pus. A boil can be painful and should be treated by a physician.
of sun damage (aside from the temporary sting of sunburn) are initially
invisible and are sometimes hard to comprehend.
The truth is,
as much as 90 percent of wrinkles, brown spots, and sagging skin
what we usually think of as aging an be attributed to sun damage,
says the American Skin Association, a national organization for
education on skin health. What's worse, skin cancer is now the most
common cancer, striking more than 800,000 Americans each year, according
to the American Cancer Society.
If you're still
tempted to head out the door without sun protection, stop to consider
what's going to happen to your skin. Melanin, the protective pigment
found in the epidermis, defends the skin against sun damage by absorbing
the sun's rays and dissipating the energy as heat.
The more sun
exposure, the more melanin the skin produces, which results in a
suntan sign that the skin has already been damaged by ultraviolet
UV rays. If sun exposure continues, the UV rays will damage cells
and blood vessels in the outer layer of skin, causing the redness
and painful inflammation of sunburn, actually a minor burn.
The UV rays
that are not absorbed by melanin may prompt the formation of free
radicals, destructive scavenger molecules. Because free radicals
lack electrons, they attempt to steal electrons from other molecules,
damaging the molecules in the process. Free radicals that get inside
a cell can damage the cell's genetic material and cause mutations,
and they may even trigger cancer.
But the damage
doesn't stop there. Urocranic acid, a chemical found in the epidermis,
also reacts with ultraviolet light. The reaction also creates free
radicals, which then break down the collagen and elastin in the
skin, causing wrinkles. In addition, the sun's rays are thought
to decrease immune system function within the skin, meaning that
any invading organisms have a better chance of causing infection.
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