Functions of the Skin
What are the Functions of the Skin?
- Defence and protection: We all are aware of being advised to use sunscreen barriers to protect from UV rays these work alongside the skins natural protection system which is Melanin (skin pigments). The skin also carries proteins called keratin. The skin is not limited to this as it also protects and defends against dehydration and against harmful bacteria, microorganisms and responding to injury and trauma.
- Perception and Awareness: The skin also helps us to recognize touch, to recognize pain and feel its impact and any additional pressure, it permits us to feel changes in temperature (heat and cold) this is because the skin possesses sensors covering its surface (somatic) which sends signals to the brain because of the sensations we feel.
- Regulation of Temperature: Our skin helps to either preserve or release heat, sweating (via sweat glands) provides a mechanism where sweat is released to the outer layer of the skin which evaporates which reduces the level of heat.
- Immunity: The immune system with the interaction of cells within the skin (epidermal dendritic, Langerhans and phagocytic) work together to destroy harmful microorganism.
- Natural Growth and Movement of the skin: The skin must allow for natural bodily growth and responds accordingly to allow for this. Its elasticity and recoil properties (present in all layers) permit this growth and movement.
- Secretion: Unwanted by-products are released through the sweat glands and sweat (by-products such as ammonia, urea, and uric acid as well as any excess water) are expelled through this process.
- Endocrine: The skin helps vitamin D synthesis. Once the skin is exposed to a nice amount of ultraviolet light, such as the light of the sun (man-made lights also work), the stratum basale and stratum spinosum of the skin produce vitamin D3. This happens because a chemical found within the skin, known as 7-dehydrocholesterol, reacts with the ultraviolet light. It is important to note that overexposure to UV rays can be very dangerous so that it should be moderate.
- Absorption: Whereas we breathe oxygen which is vital the skin can also absorb both oxygen and nitrogen (some species are known to be able to absorb their required oxygen entirely through their skin!).
- Water Resistance: We are probably aware that our skin repels water so it comparable to having a waterproof barrier, this guarantees that essential nutrients and minerals are protected and remain within the body. The out layer of the skin is also covered in oils and nutrients that protects against excess water.
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