The importance of keeping your skin healthy can't be overemphasized. The skin is the body's first defense against disease and infection and it protects your internal organs from damage and injury. It is the largest organ in the human body. The skin helps regulate body temperature and prevents excess fluid loss as well as helps your body to remove excess water and salt.
Skin conditions can affect anyone?young and old, men and women. Acne, psoriasis and eczema are just a few examples of common skin disorders. However there are a number of simple ways to keep skin healthy and there also many options available to treat skin conditions, if and when treatment is essential. If you think you may have a skin problem or need to learn how to better care for your skin you may consider a consultation with a dermatologist?a physician who specializes in treating the skin and keeping it healthy. Skin problems can sometimes be difficult to diagnose as some skin conditions share similar symptoms.
To understand how to keep your skin healthy, it may help to learn about your skin's structure. Skin is composed of two layers: the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin?about the thickness of a piece of paper) and the dermis (the middle layer). The thickness of the dermis is variable depending on the location. For example, eyelid dermis is quite thin, but back dermis is about 1/2 inch thick. The epidermis has four layers: the stratum corneum, the granular layer, the squamous cell layer and the basal cell layer. The stratum corneum or outer layer of the epidermis is the layer of skin that can be seen and felt. Proteins known as keratin, a fatty, waterproof envelope, and flat corneocyte cells make up the stratum corneum. This layer is the barrier between your body and the outside world. The granular layer produces protein and lipids (fat) for the stratum corneum. The squamous cell layer produces keratin for the stratum corneum and also transports water. Friction blisters occur in the squamous cell layer. The basal cell layer is the lowest layer of the epidermis. This is where the skin cells are reproduced and give rise to the more superficial layers of the epidermis. The most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, arise from this cell layer. Melanocytes, which produce melanin or skin pigment, sit alongside this layer in these cells. Melanoma, one of the two main types of skin cancer, originates from these pigment-producing cells. It takes about a month for skin cells to move from the basal cell layer to the top of the stratum corneum and slough off. One to two layers of these skin cells are sloughed off each and every day. The dermis is the deeper layer of skin. It is a diverse mixture of blood vessels, nerves, hair follicles and sebaceous (or oil) glands. The proteins collagen and elastin are found in the dermis. They provide support and elasticity to the skin. The sun's rays can break down these proteins and eventually the skin begins to wrinkle and sag. The subcutaneous layer, or subcutis, is a layer of fatty tissue that provides nourishment to the dermis and upper layers of skin. It also conserves body heat and pads internal organs against trauma. Blood vessels, nerves, sweat glands and the deeper hair follicles extend from the dermis and into the fat(hypodermis).Facial skin typically looks its best during a woman's late teens and through their 20s. As you age, your skin becomes thinner and often drier. Thinning skin is a result of a breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers. As it ages skin loses elasticity, especially if it has been exposed to excessive sunlight, and becomes more fragile and dry. However, there are a number of dietary and lifestyle changes that you can make to help keep your skin healthy and younger-looking. Exposure to the sun causes about 80 percent of the skin changes associated with aging. Protecting the skin from the sun is the single most important skin care practice you can adopt. Significant exposure to the sun will wrinkle and dry the skin. Uneven pigmentation?from freckles to small or large brown spots are another side effect of frequent sun exposure. Melasma, commonly associated with pregnancy, is brought about by the sun and produces large brown patches on the forehead and cheeks. The most serious consequence of sun exposure is skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of human cancer, making up nearly half of all diagnosed cases of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Most sun damage occurs prior to the age of 21, but skin cancer can take up to 20 or more years to develop. Children who experience as few as two to three sunburns are believed to have an increased risk of developing skin cancer later on in life.
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