SKINCARESUN FACTS • By Carole Aponte, MD
SKIN is your friend
Let’s talk all about your SKIN.
What is your skin’s job?
Skin is like a sack that holds everything in its place to protect your body. If we didn’t have skin then our organs, bones and muscles would fall out of us! Not only does it protect our important insides but it also controls our body temperature and gives us feedback on the conditions of the world around us.
YOUR SKIN HAS 3 LAYERS
The epidermis (ep-i-dur-mis) is the outer part of the skin that you can see. The epidermis has 2 jobs; to make new cells and to produce melanin. The top part of the epidermis is made up of a layer of dead skin cells called the stratum corneum. This part keeps your skin from drying out and helps to protect you from harsh chemicals and other irritants. It’s thicker on your palms and the soles of your feet than on other parts of your body (the backs of your hands don’t have this part which is why they can get red and itchy if you wash your hands too much in the winter). The bottom part of the epidermis constantly makes new cells which travel to the top of the skin to help maintain that protective layer. It takes new cells anywhere from 2 weeks to a whole month to move up to the skin’s surface, and then they just flake off! Did you know that a major part of the dust in your house is actually dead skin cells?! Making new cells to protect your body is the main job of your epidermis.
The epidermis’ other job is to create melanin (mel-uh-nin). Melanin is what gives skin its color. The darker your skin, the more melanin you have. Think about all the friends you have and all of their different skin tones. Who do you think has the least amount of melanin and who has the most? Can anyone get a sunburn? The answer is YES! If your skin doesn’t have enough melanin to absorb and block all of the UVB rays you are exposed to then you get sunburned. The longer you stay in the sun, the more total UV rays get into your skin which can then lead to sunburn and sun damage to even dark skinned or tanned people. And did you know a tan is really a sign of sun damage? If you’re outside and you get a tan that means your epidermis had to produce melanin in overtime to try and prevent you from getting a sunburn. Melanin is definitely a hard worker, but it can’t protect you from the sun by itself. You need to wear at least a SPF 30 broad spectrum sunscreen like P.R.E.P. SPF 30 face+body lotion every day to protect your skin from the sun. Read our article UVA + UVB = Sun Rays to know the types of UV rays and why sunscreen is so important!
Underneath your epidermis is your dermis (dur-mis) which you can’t see. The dermis is like the control center, regulating your body temperature and your sense of touch. The dermis has many blood vessels which help to control your body temperature. When your body temperature is too high these blood vessels expand to allow more blood to flow through them so it can release heat through the surface of your skin. This increased blood flow to the skin’s surface is what makes your face appear red or pink when you are hot. The opposite happens when you are cold; blood vessels get narrower, which keeps blood away from the surface to help keep the core of your body warmer. That’s why your skin, especially on your hands and feet, may look pale when you are cold.
The dermis also talks to your brain and nervous system. Your skin helps your brain know whether you are touching water, a rock or a soft, fluffy blanket. It can also tell you whether you are in danger - like when you put your foot in the bath water to see if you should get in; you immediately know whether the water is too hot, too cold or just right!
3. Subcutaneous Fat
You can’t see the very bottom layer of the skin which is called the subcutaneous layer (suhb-kyoo-tey-nee-uhs). This layer contains mostly fat and its job is to keep your body warm, act as a cushion when you fall down, and help protect all the delicate organs under your skin.
Skin has some very important jobs to do and you can help take care of it by having an easy, daily skincare routine. After all, your skin is your body’s largest organ, your birthday suit, the one outfit you can never take off! PREP YOUR SKIN every day, rain or shine, for a lifetime of healthy skin.
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