How Our Skin Protects Us and How We Can Help
Our skin is the largest organ on our body and its primary function is to protect our body from from bacteria, viruses, infection and other unwanted substances.
The outer most layer of the skin, the epidermis, is the protective shell. Because they’re also the first to encounter damage, the cells of the epidermis are constantly renewing themselves, with dead skin cells falling off by the tens of thousands each minute. Protection starts with the natural layer of oil that appears on the outer most surface of the skin, providing the first barrier of protection. The epidermis also contains Lengerhans cells, specialized cells that identify harmful substances and take them to white blood cells to be neutralized ( source: P&G). The epidermis layer also contains melanin, the skin pigmentation that filters dangerous UV rays and prevents the skin from absorbing them, which can cause wrinkles and skin cancer. However, studies have shown that the epidermis can’t completely protect us from this type of damage (source: The Merck manuals).
Now that we know how our skin protects us and also understand that we also have to do our part in protecting our skin and body, here are a few helpful steps to take:
- Protect our skin from the sun : use skincare products that provide our skin with UV protection, wear long sleeved shirts, pants and rimmed hats while out in the sun and limit sun exposure when the sun is most intense.
- Moisturize our skin : drink lots of water, use skin moisturizers or lotions that are right for your skin type. Take warm (not hot showers) and limit them to 5-10 minutes. Exposing the skin to water, actually dries it out.
- Take health precautions: Exposing the skin to bacteria can result in acne and other skin conditions. Avoid sharing personal items (toothbrushes, lip balm etc.) and drinks with others, and avoid touching your face with your fingers or objects containing bacteria (phones that others use).
- Use gentle skin care: Washing your face is important to remove dirt, germs and dead skin cells. Use a mild cleanser and exfoliate your skin (use clean was cloth or gentle skin care products that help you exfoliate). For the body, also use a mild soap and exfoliate and moisturize the skin on a regular basis.
- Know your skin: Pay attention to odd freckles, moles, and growths on your skin, and consult your doctor if you notice any changes. For example, a change in a mole can indicate potential skin cancer. Be sure to treat any cuts that may occur to prevent infection. Other skin conditions that merit a dermatologist visit include frequent acne, inflamed or irritated dry skin, and skin rashes and irritations that don’t go away, as these could be signs of one of the many types of dermatitis, or skin inflammation. (source :everydayhealth.com)
With proper skin care to pamper skin from the outside and with a good diet to nourish from within, skin protection comes down to a few simple steps. But should you ever notice any problems, get medical attention to resolve them quickly and avoid putting your skin at risk.