The function of the skin

The function of the skin – an amazing organ!

Evolution has proven to us that our skin isn’t in fact our natural clothing, but if we were not ‘clothed’ by layers of skin, we would look like Gunter von Hagen’s plastinations! A ghastly thought – and in any case neither humans nor animals could live without it. We’ve apparently got Adam and Eve to thank for the fact that we wear clothes (if you are a Christian and follow the Bible). We civilised people are no longer as hairy and tough as our ancestors were, as we get affected by the cold easily and therefore need an additional protective layer in the form of clothing.

A natural barrier

Sun protectionOur skin does have a barrier and protective function though. It is also capable of absorbing substances through the pores. Its protective acidic coat prevents bacteria, germs, dirt and harmful substances from entering into the body. If the skin’s pH value is not well balanced or if the skin is injured, this barrier function doesn’t work properly. Even with age the skin becomes more vulnerable, because it becomes drier and rougher. Important amino acids and vitamins are no longer available in sufficient quantities. The body has to find other sources to provide the skin with everything it needs. This is already one of the reasons why anti-aging measures which work from within and age-appropriate cosmetics are so important. The fact that the skin has an absorption capacity is useful in the treatment of particular illnesses, especially skin conditions. On the other hand, this function can also cause certain illnesses.

The skin regulates body temperature

Our skin protects us from heat and radiation, but when we expect too much from it, and over-do it on either of those things, it can get damaged. Thanks to the many skin layers, organs, muscles and vessels, our skin is protected from friction or pressure, chemicals or micro organisms. Heat and cold are balanced out in specific quantities. The skin ensures that evaloratice cooler gets to work so that the loss of water or heat doesn’t get too much. The skin can excrete up to 10 litres of sweat a day to cool the surface of the body down. Another protective function is tanning through exposure to sun rays. Without this function, the skin would burn very quickly and lead to skin cancer. The facinating organ that we call the skin is the only one which is completely visible to us. We could not survive without functioning skin. In total, we have around 22 square feet (2 square metres) of skin surface which covers us. The question of whether we feel comfortable in our own skin is dependent upon many different factors, which don’t just affect the outer skin layer. Depending on height, weight and age, our skin would weigh (if we were able to take it off!) something between 3.5 and 10 kg. It just goes to show that the skin is actually not as thin as it sometimes feels. Without our skin layers, the fashion and beauty industry could not survive. Botox would be seen as a deadly poison and not as a product to fight wrinkles. We wouldn’t have to invent the term anti-aging at all. Healthy skin should have a pH of 5,7.

Our biggest sensory organ

Many sensations can be felt through the skin. In this way it is the largest existing sense organ available to us. Thermal stimuli, pain or a loving touch is signalled as information by various receptors which is then evaluated and responded to. The skin is also able to make our sensations visible. We blush, go pale or our hair stands on end for example. Particular illnesses or injuries also reveal themselves through the colour of the skin. Nausea makes us look grey or green and shock makes us as white as snow. Liver disorders and jaundice change the skin yellow, when you hit yourself it turns a blue/purple colour. The skin also uses attractants, so-called pheromones, to send out signals of sexual attraction and it is an erogenous zone. Its ability to self-heal is phenomenal. It’s a truly amazing organ!