is the body's largest organ. It comprises three layers: the epidermis, the
dermis and the subcutaneous layer. The epidermis is the outermost layer of
skin, composed of cells called epithelial cells. The dermis, the layer underneath
the epidermis, contains blood vessels, lymphatic tissue, nerves, sweat glands,
hair follicles and sebaceous glands - glands that produce and secrete oil
to protect against bacteria. The third layer, the subcutaneous layer, is a
supporting layer of fatty tissue.
The skin also functions as a defense mechanism, protecting the internal organs against contamination and injury. It also produces Vitamin D3, which helps the body use calcium and phosphorous to maintain healthy bone tissue. Finally, due to the network of nerve tissue running through the skin, it is responsible for producing sensations such as pain, heat, and cold.
care is important to maintaining health, and is an integral part of overall
wound management. Many factors are involved in caring for the skin.
People should cleanse their skin every day, using a mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water. Avoid exposure to hot water - it can dehydrate the skin, making it more prone to damage. Also, hot water can damage fragile skin, like the skin of young children or older people. Scald burns occur on delicate skin at lower temperatures than average adult skin.
Moisturize your skin regularly. Moisturizers prevent water loss by either drawing moisture to the outer layer of the skin, or coating the skin's surface with a layer of substance, sealing moisture into the skin. Moisturizing products include petrolatum, mineral oil, lanolin, and silicone products. Glycerin, proteins, and vitamins attract water to the skin.
Additional products, such as astringents can be harsh for weaker skin. Astringents remove oil and soap from the skin surface. Many astringents are alcohol based, or contain salicylic acid, or witch hazel. Exercise caution in using astringents as they can over dry or irritate the skin.
Inspect your skin carefully and often. Take notice of any birthmarks, moles, areas of redness, bumps, rashes, or irregularities. Report any changes to your health care practitioner.
In designing a skin care
regimen that is right for you, consult a dermatologist. Be sure to share your
entire medical history, including a family history, particularly if it includes
skin cancer or diabetes.
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