Guide to Knowing Your Skin and What Can Damage it

Your skin is the largest organ of your body. Has anyone ever accused you of having “think skin”, or if you are an overly sensitive person someone may have told you to get “thick skinned”. The next time you hear one of these comments, you can dazzle them with this bit of skin fact: the average skin is 2 to 3 mm thick and everyone has two types of skin, thick and thin. The thick skin covers your heels on your feet and the palms of your hands. The thin kind covers the lips of your mouth. Skin accounts for approximately 15% of your body weight.

The skin on your body has many functions. Eight functions to be exact, they are: sensation, protection, heat regulation, control evaporation, aesthetics and communication, storage and synthesis, excretion of sweat, and absorption. You need your skin to feel sensations to explore your world, to be aware of dangers and to realize when something is on you or moving on you. Your skin can detect heat or cold. Skin can recognize being touched, applied pressure or vibrations.

The skin can detect tissue injury through pain and discomfort. Your skin protects you from both internal and external harmful agents by acting as a barrier to environmental factors or contaminants like sun and chemicals. Your skin can also regulate heat by way of the blood that flows through it. When blood vessels dilate or get bigger, heat is lost, when they constrict or get smaller, cutaneous blood flow reduces and conserves heat. Skin can control evaporation and prevent fluid loss. This is why burn victims go into shock. When the skin is severely damaged bodily fluids are lost and shock results.

So the skin acts as a barrier to keep contaminants and irritants out and a barrier to stop fluids from escaping. Skin is aesthetically pleasing to the sight. We observe the skin of others and find it appealing or attractive in a physical state. Others can determine our mood by how our skin communicates or looks to others�flushed when embarrassed, or sick with fever, nervous when we sweat. The skin can act as a storage container for lipids and water or can synthesis vitamins B and D. The skin can excrete sweat, a secondary temperature regulator. We sweat when we over exert ourselves like when we exercise or doing yard work. The skin is absorbent, like when taking in oxygen and carbon dioxide. Medicines can also be absorbed through the skin layers, like when ointments are applied or given in the form of patches applied to the skin.

What can damage your skin

Chemicals like Chlorine can damage your skin. Those of us who love to swim in pools may be aware of the need to add chemicals to the water to protect us from infection. One common chemical is chlorine. Chlorine is a gaseous greenish-yellow chemical. It is used as a disinfectant in most public and private pools. Skin while basically waterproof, can absorb some contaminants in water like chemicals. We use chemicals like chlorine for the purpose of keeping us healthy. While performing this helpful task, in the water, it can irritate our skin. The irritated skin becomes dry and itchy. This can affect the skin covering the entire body, including the skin on the head, the scalp. To help soothe your body skin, after swimming, take a shower, and then apply skincare lotion or cream. To protect the scalp from chlorine, you can wear a swimming cap, or you can rinse your hair with non-chlorinated water before swimming and wash your hair after swimming with a special shampoo like Ultraswim or a pre-swim conditioner may also be used.

Sun can damage your skin. Sunburn is reddened skin, which is painful, hot to the touch and if severe can be blistered or swollen. Sunburn results from brief but acute overexposure to the ultraviolet (UV) light of the sun. Each of us varies in the amount of overexposure it takes before experiencing sunburn. Sunburn may not appear right away. It may take an hour or up to a day for a sunburn to appear on the skin. Sometimes sunburn is not noticed until the skin is touched. Someone who has severe sunburn may experience chills, weakness or fainting. Fair skinned persons may peal several days after receiving sunburn. The skin may look dry and by very itchy just before pealing. Apply lotion over affected skin areas to relieve the itch and aid in healing.

In 1985 the term “smokers face” was added to the medical dictionary. Lines and wrinkles that appear predominately around the upper or lower lips and corner of the eyes describe smokers face. Deep lines on the cheeks or shallow lines on the cheeks and lower jaw may also appear. There may also be a subtle gauntness of the facial features and gray skin coloration.

Skin is much more than a pleasant appearing package. Skin plays a very important role for us. It protects us, it covers us, it communicates and allows us to feel many different sensations which help us to perceive our world. Our skin keeps us healthy and can tell us when we are sick. Our skin can attract people to us when it is physically and visually appealing to others. We can damage our skin with over exposure to sun, by absorbing chemicals on our skin, and by smoking tobacco products. We can learn to protect and heal our skin.

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