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April 15, 2014

Structure and functions of skin

Skin is a word that’s on everyone’s lips nowadays, but what do we really know about it? Skin is a vital organ that needs proper care. It is, in fact, the body’s largest organ, covering a surface from 1.5 m2 to 2 m2 and weighing approximately 5 kg (epidermis and dermis combined)!

The physiological functions of skin

When we think about our skin, our concerns are usually related to its appearance, its flaws and, most often, how it is aging. Yet the role of our skin goes well beyond a healthy looking complexion. Here are a few of its functions:

  • Providing protection from harmful external factors;
  • Regulating body temperature;
  • Perceiving external stimuli;
  • Supporting in immunity protection;
  • Serving as a blood supply (a reserve);
  • Synthesizing vitamin D.

Using, among others, the perspiration and sebum it produces, skin develops its own protective barrier: the hydrolopidic film. This film accounts for the appearance of our skin by regulating hydration levels and fighting germs.

The structure of skin

Skin is composed of three main parts:

  • The epidermis
  • The dermis
  • The hypodermis

Structure de la peau EN

The epidermis

While very thin – approximately 1 millimetre, depending on the body part, – the epidermis is made up of five layers of cells and has a 28-day turnover cycle. The visible part of the epidermis is called the “stratum corneum.” It is composed of:

  • Keratinocytes (keratin-producing cells that give skin its firmness);
  • Melanocytes (melanin -producing cells responsible for skin pigmentation);
  • Merkel cells (cells involved in the sense of touch);
  • Langerhans cells (dendritic cells that play a role in immunity protection).

The dermis

As for the dermis, it comprises three layers: the papillary dermis, the reticular dermis and the deep dermis. It gives skin support but also its suppleness and elasticity. It brings nutrients to the epidermis and plays a vital role in wound healing. The dermis includes hair follicles, sebaceous and sudoriferous glands and a network of tiny blood vessels and fibres. Its aging is behind the onset of wrinkles and other signs of skin aging. The following elements make up the dermis:

  • Water
  • Elastin
  • Fibroblasts
  • Glycoproteins
  • Collagen

The hypoderm

The hypoderm is the deep layer of skin. It contains major blood vessels and fatty tissues in varying quantities, depending on the location on the body. It protects the body from physical shock and changes in temperature and serves as a fat reserve. The hypoderm represents 15 to 30 percent of body weight. 

Skin too responds to emotions!

Most of us have gone red when embarrassed, developed goose bumps when experiencing something intense or broken out in a sweat when scared.

But skin also reacts strongly for other reasons. In fact, stress and even difficult life events can trigger skin ailments, such as eczema and psoriasis.

Pharmacy services

Is taking care of your skin important to you? Whether you are treating a specific skin ailment or looking for the right product to keep it well moisturized and youthful looking, be sure to drop by one of our sales locations. Your pharmacist and dermo-cosmetic consultant can give you a helping hand!