Nithya Venkat is a skin care enthusiast who loves to research and write about topics that involves all aspects of skin care.
How Skin Protects the Body
The skin is the largest organ in the human body. It covers us from head to toe and is responsible for many vital functions. In addition to covering the entire human body as a single entity, skin plays a vital role in protecting us and keeping our bodies healthy.
This article discusses the three layers of human skin, explains what each one does, and explores several ways in which our skin helps protect us from our environment.
The Three Layers of Human Skin
- Epidermis: The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin and the very first layer of protection for the body. It protects the body from external damage and contains pigments that determine the skin color.
- Dermis: The dermis is the layer below the epidermis. This layer contains connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands.
- Subcutaneous Layer: The subcutaneous layer is made up of collagen and fat. This layer cushions the body and acts as a shock absorber.
How Does Skin Protect the Body From Pathogens?
Our skin protects us in so many ways; it isn't just a physical barrier between our internal organs and the dangers of the outside world. In this section, we'll discuss some of the skin's primary protective functions.
It Is a Barrier Against Germs
The skin has many embedded hair follicles. The root of each hair is embedded in one of these hair follicles. Each of the follicles has two sebaceous glands or oil glands on either side.
The sebaceous glands produce an oily substance called sebum. The sebum keeps our skin from drying out and cracking. It also helps to retain moisture within the skin. When the skin dries and cracks, germs can easily enter through the openings and infect the body. The sebum also makes our skin acidic. This helps to kill germs because germs cannot survive in an acidic medium.
It Protects Us From UV Rays
The skin has cells that produce melanin. These cells are called melanocytes and are found at the base of the epidermis. When skin is over-exposed to the sun, then these cells produce a pigment called melanin that helps in absorbing the harmful UV rays of the sun.
It Helps Us Respond to Sensations
The dermis layer of the skin has nerve endings embedded within it. These nerves receive stimuli from the brain, and in turn, they send back important signals.
Nerves are responsible for the different sensations felt by the skin, but they also help the brain to decide what course of action needs to be taken to respond to these sensations. For example, when you touch a hot object, your brain commands you to remove your hands from the object. When you receive a shock, the brain commands you to let go of the item that is delivering it.
It Helps Regulate Our Temperature
Your body is protected from extreme heat and extreme cold by the skin. Skin plays a vital role in maintaining constant body temperature. Your body could quickly become overheated or very cold without the skin.
The skin has roughly about 2.5 million sweat glands. These sweat glands produce sweat when the temperature of your body rises above 35 degrees centigrade. When you run around or workout, your body becomes hot, pores on the skin open up, and heat is let out of the body in the form of sweat. This helps your body to cool down.
When the weather becomes extremely cold, our skin prevents heat from escaping from our bodies by pulling in the muscles around hair shafts so that pores close to prevent heat from escaping. This is why we get "goose pimples" when it is very cold. The skin also helps to keep the body's essential fluids inside without evaporating.
It Protects the Immune System
The skin protects the immune system of the body. It is the first layer of protection and acts as a barrier against infections. It also has special immune cells called Islets of Langerhans that destroy the sources of infections and filter out the infection source.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Nithya Venkat
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 23, 2013:
Suzie HQ thank you. Yes skin is fascinating in all aspects. Thanks for the vote and share too.
Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on March 22, 2013:
The skin is a fascinating organ that everyone needs to take good care of. You have outlined the skins functions well and the importance of it, great job! Voted +++ useful, interesting & shared!
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 18, 2013:
teaches12345 skin is does a lot and works 24 by 7. Thank you for stopping by.
Dianna Mendez on March 17, 2013:
This is so interesting to read on the skin and its protecting the body. I can see how the oils moisturize our body. So fascinating about the sweat and goose pimples!
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 16, 2013:
Vinaya thank you, am happy my hub reminded you of school!!
Eiddwen thank you, you have a great day too.
Eiddwen from Wales on March 16, 2013:
Very interesting indeed.
Have a great day.
Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on March 15, 2013:
I read this in my biology class, but had quite forgotten. I found this useful and informative.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 14, 2013:
Tonipet thank you and yes our skin works very hard. We have to take good care of our skin.
Tonette Fornillos from The City of Generals on March 14, 2013:
Very informative. Our skin then has been working too hard for our body. Just so essential to give it the best care and treatment. Votes up and useful. Thank you Vellur.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 13, 2013:
billybuc thank you and skin is amazing and does it's best to protect and care for the human body.
DDE thank you, skin is amazing indeed!!
tobusiness just imagine humans without skin!! We would be real scary!! Thank you.
Faith Reaper yes we are better off without thinking that way!! Thanks for the vote and share.
always exploring thank you for stopping by. Have a great day.
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 13, 2013:
Very informative..Interesting write..
Faith Reaper from southern USA on March 13, 2013:
Wow, how fascinating! This is a great extensive hub here about our skin! I, for one, would not want to think about us without our skin! LOL
Voted up ++ and sharing
God bless, Faith Reaper
Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on March 13, 2013:
Where would we be without our skin? :)
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 13, 2013:
Truly amazing of how the skin protects the body, an interesting and informative hub.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 13, 2013:
The human body really is remarkable, is it not? Great information about this wonder organ that we call skin.