Monday, March 16, 2009

Backyard Basics: The functions of the epidermis

First and foremost, the epidermis is your body's first protective barrier. It's on the front line in the war against illness. It braves the coldest winter chill, the blistering summer sun, the saturated, rainy spring, and the fierce winds of the fall. In some unfortunate cases, the skin doesn't survive these conditions with severe cases of sunburn, exema, and frostbite to end their fight. Yet the lucky people who do survive should be thankful--and more careful next time around.

To weather such conditions , your skin employs several mechanisms and substances which keep it resilient.  If you go down to the make up of the dermis, the layer under the epidermis, you will find that it contains collagen and elastin.   Collagen allows for stretching and contraction of the skin and aids in healing wounds.  Intertwined in collagen fibers are elastin fibers.  Skin elasticity is what allows the skin to spring back after normal weight gain and permits us to smile and make facial expressions.   The dermis also contains a special gland called the sebaceous gland.  Sebaceous glands are found all over the body's skin but there is a large frequency of them on the face.  They are found off of hair follicles and they produce sebum, a fatty substance formed from the breakdown of skin cells.  It helps to keep the skin and hairs soft, flexible and waterproof.  The sebum comes out of hair follicles.  After puberty, sebum acts as a mild anti-bacterial, anti-fungal substance. The sebaceous glands also contribute to the acid mantle, a visible film on the skin’s surface and it keeps harmful agents such as bacteria and pollutants from entering. 

These functions all sound lovely don't they?  By the look of it you should never have to worry about having unhealthy skin.  Yet you look in the mirror and all of your worries come back.  Remember: all good things must come to an end.  

No comments:

Post a Comment