Your skin is an amazing system and the largest organ of your body. When we look at the complexity of skin, it is easy to see how problems might arise. If any of the structures in the skin are not working properly, problems ranging from a simple rash to psoriasis can result. The specialty of dermatology is devoted to understanding the skin, what can go wrong with it, and what to do to correct skin problems when they occur.
A Closer Look at your Skin
Anatomy of your Skin
The skin is an ever-changing organ that contains many specialized cells and structures. The skin functions as a protective barrier that protects your body from the hostile outside environment. It is also involved in maintaining the optimum body temperature. It gathers sensory information from the environment and plays an active role in protecting us from disease. Understanding how the skin can function in these many ways starts with an understanding of the structure of the 3 layers of skin - the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue.
The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin and contains 5 layers. From bottom to top the layers are named stratum basale, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum licidum, and stratum corneum. The bottom layer, the stratum basale, has living cells called keratinocytes that are shaped like columns. In this layer the cells divide and push already formed cells into higher layers. As the cells move into the higher layers, they flatten and eventually die. The top layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum, is made of dead, flat, waxy skin cells that shed about every 2 weeks.
The dermis contains cells called fibroblasts that make and secrete collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. The collagen and elastin fibers made by fibroblasts form a cross-linked matrix that gives skin its strength and elasticity. Fibroblasts also respond to environment factors by producing a variety of inflammatory hormones which cause vasodilation and which signal immune cells to leave blood vessels and enter the skin. These immune cells can protect damaged skin from bacterial infections, but they can also cause considerable skin damage.
The hypodermis, also called subcutaneous tissue, is a layer of fat and connective tissue that houses larger blood vessels and nerves. This layer is important is the regulation of temperature of the skin itself and the body. The size of this layer varies throughout the body and from person to person.
Common Skin Problems
Research shows that there are, in fact, two distinct types of aging. Aging caused by the genes we inherit is called intrinsic (internal) aging. Extrinsic (external) aging is caused by environmental factors, such as exposure to the sun's rays. Some results of aging are:
- Fine wrinkles
- Thin, transparent skin
- Dry skin that may itch
DermaMedics Professional line of skin care products offers new technology to combat the signs of aging. Please visit your skin care professional and ask about treatments that are right for you. (Learn more)
Inflammatory skin diseases are the most common problem in dermatology. They come in many forms, from occasional rashes accompanied by skin itching and redness, to chronic conditions such as dermatitis (eczema), rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. (Learn more)
Uneven pigmentation occurs as a result of age, chronic sun exposure, pregnancy and even from the use of birth control pills. In addition, cosmetic procedures such as laser re-surfacing can cause increased skin pigmentation. Lentigines (“age spots”) and other areas of hyperpigmentation resulting from years of sun exposure can occur on the face, hands, arms and chest and can be difficult to treat. Because of the recent concern over the use of hydroquinone to treat hyperpigmentation, extensive research is being carried out to identify new non-hydroquine compounds that can reduce the appearance of dark spots and uneven skin coloration. (Learn more)
Acne is the most common skin disorder seen by doctors. In fact, it will affect almost every one of us at some time in our lives. It can happen at any time, but teenagers are the ones who are affected more often.
Acne can cause a great deal of embarrassment and anxiety. Severe acne problems can cause people to become depressed, withdraw from friends and perform poorly at school or work. Visit a skin care professional in your area to see how DermaMedics Professional can help restore your skin to a healthy, clear complexion. (Learn more)