One of the roles of the skin is to maintain our health. Over 3,000 possible skin disorders can afflict us during our lifetime. To understand the language of the skin, We must have a good understanding of the skin’s structure and functions. Only then will we be able to hear and listen to what it is telling us. When we expose our skins to toxins and other harsh chemicals, it speaks to us by reacting adversely to the toxin or chemical.
UNDERSTANDING THE STRUCTURE OF THE SKIN
The skin comprises three layers known as the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin; its primary function is to protect the internal organs from external stimuli such as exposure to bacteria, viruses, chemicals, UV radiation, ionizing radiation, electromagnetic waves, physical, thermal, and mechanical injuries.
The epidermis breaks down further into five layers: the stratum basale, basale, stratum spinosum, stratum geanulosum, stratum lucidum, and stratum corneum. The skin consists primarily of three cell types: keratinocytes, melanocytes, and fibroblasts. In the epidermis, you will find the keratinocytes cells and the melanocytes cells. The dermis contains fibroblast cells.
The epidermis is less than half a millimeter thick and resembles a “brick wall” of cells known as keratinocytes. The keratinocytes make up the bulk of the epidermis. The keratinocytes form the dead superficial layer of the skin. The keratinocytes go through a process called keratinization. The keratinized cells replace by cells derived from the mitotic cells in the lower layer of the epidermis called the basal layer. Keratinized cells desquamate (shed) from the surface. After that, the cells derived from the mitotic cells in the lower layer of the epidermis replace the keratinized cells. This process takes twenty-eight (28) days to complete. The population of new cells below them displaces the highest-level cells. As these new cells move upwards, they elaborate keratin and accumulate it in the cytoplasm, and finally, keratin occupies most of these cells.
The basal layer of the epidermis is where you can find the cell responsible for melanin pigments. These cells are known as melanocytes. Melanin accumulates in small granules called melanosomes. The function of melanin is to absorb UV waves to prevent DNA damage to the keratinocytes. When we use harsh ingredients to suppress melanin in our bodies, it can lead to serious health issues.
The EMC, fibroblasts, and protein fibers composed of collagen and elastin formed the dermis layer. It lies directly beneath the epidermis and is 20-30 times thicker than the epidermis. Collagen makes up about 80% of dry skin weight and is responsible for tensile strength and maintaining skin flexibility. Meanwhile, elastin fibers provide elasticity to the skin. Hyaluronic acid (HA) helps to retain the moisture of the skin and elasticity. The HA is also responsible for the rapid tissue proliferation, regeneration, and repair of the skin. As we get older, our skin tends to lose the ability to produce sufficient collagen and hyaluronic acid to keep the skin’s elasticity intact.
The hypodermis (also known as the subcutaneous layer or superficial fascia) locates directly below the dermis. The function of the hypodermis is to connect the skin to the underlying fibrous tissue known as the fascia of the bones and muscles. Technically, the fascia is not truly part of the skin, but it borders between the dermis and the hypodermis. The hypodermis also stores fat and provides insulation. The cushioning of the integument protects our internal organs from the external environment.
THE LANGUAGE OF THE SKIN
When the skin overexposes to UV radiation, infections, and other harmful toxins, the skin mounts a defense against foreign invaders. One of these defenses is the development of inflammation. Skin inflammation is not an individual event. It is a “consortium of cumulative ever-changing processes designed to mute our first line of defense.” our skin becomes inflamed as a means to alert us of acute threats to homeostasis or skin balance. The ability of the skin to react to its environmental threats through inflammatory processes demonstrates its complexity. We must understand when the keratinocytes, immune cells, hair follicles, sweat glands, and melanocytes speak with each other and to us.
The skin is what allows us to feel the sensation. It is a neurosensory organ. It can sense electromagnetic radiation, temperature, chemicals, pH, biological insults, and subtle changes in our microbiome. All of these stimuli transmit to the brain and the surrounding cells and tissues. Therefore, having an impact on not only our behavioral responses but also our epidermal biology, our immune and endocrine systems.
As we seek to understand the language of the skin, we must understand our immune system is an integral part of the skin. The immune system determines the health of the skin. Our genetics is not the only thing that influences the immune system; it reacts to environmental pressures that we expose our body to regularly. We are born with a weak immune system, which then matures as we grow and decline later. The keratinocytes in the epidermis play a role in our immune defense. Thus, any damages to the keratinocytes will leave our bodies vulnerable to various ailments.
The melanocyte cells tend to be the focal point of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. They are the “conductor” of the cross-talk between the residential skin cells, neurons, and immune processes. The melanocyte cells act as a UV detector in our skin, have the potential to sense, and focus on other stimuli. Just like neurons, melanocytes convert energy to communicate. They can convert electromagnetic energy (UV and HEV) into biological signals that initiate signal implication and recruit multiple tissues to effect a behavior change.
The development of acne is one way the skin communicates. Chronic inflammatory skin disease contributes to acne development. Acne affects approximately 85% of the population, typically starting between the ages of 12 to 14. Acne is the byproduct of several factors, including androgen-mediated stimulation of the sebaceous gland activity, follicular hyperkeratinization, hormonal imbalance, and inflammatory caused by the innate immune system and external bacterial infection. The best way to fight acne is to incorporate skincare products rich with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Besides hyperpigmentation, the skin is an organ that can readily send signals of the weakening of the elasticity and strength of the skin through wrinkle formation. Two types of aging affect the skin: intrinsic or age-dependent and extrinsic or photoaging. Intrinsic aging is caused by various factors: telomere, shortening, the imbalance between free radicals, antioxidants, and hormonal changes. Meanwhile, photoaging caused by exposure to UV solar radiation leads to extrinsic aging. Aging causes a decrease in the levels of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid (HA) in the skin via several pathomechanisms such as enzymatic degradation of the elastin fibers and collagen networks. This process attacks the fibroblast components by free radicals, collagen elastin formation, and HA.
Some active ingredients in skincare possess inhibitory actions against elastase, collagenase, and hyaluronidase (the enzymes that degrade elastin, collage, and HA in the body). Antioxidant activities can help decelerate the rapid aging of the skin.
To summation, we should not wait until the skin physically manifests the signs of wear and tear to treat it with utmost care and respect. Most of us only start prioritizing our skin’s health once there is a perceived problem. I am guilty of this. I did not give my skin the attention it deserved before I obtained my skincare diploma.
The health of our skin should always be our main priority. We should not overly expose the skin to excessive physical, environmental, and biological insults daily. We must appreciate our skin’s uniqueness and accept the color of our skin. Stop wasting money on products containing harsh skin-lightening chemicals such as mercury and hydroquinone. Products that contain these ingredients tend to lead to skin damage and internal organ failure. They can also lead to the thinning of the skin, which increases the chance of skin cancer.
Skin hyperpigmentation caused by chronic inflammation can be a nuisance that can lead to low self-esteem and low confidence. Products designed to combat hyperpigmentation must contain ingredients that can inhibit the overproduction of melanin. Luckily, various plant extracts and or naturally-derived ingredients can perform this role perfectly without causing permanent damage to your skin. Listen to your skin and done overexposure to unnecessary chemicals.
This article is for informational purposes only. We do not provide medical advice. If you have a skin condition, please contact a dermatologist.
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