Our skin is the largest organ in our body and has many important functions. It protects us against outside influences and also has a powerful social function, for our skin can make feelings visible, e.g. when we get goosebumps.
What is the function of the skin?
Our barrier against the outside world
With a surface area between 1.5 and 2 m², our skin is our largest organ and it creates a barrier between the body and the outside world. The skin performs many vital functions for us. First of all, it acts like a brick wall coated with acid, protecting us against dangerous interlopers such as disease-causing pathogens, chemicals, allergens and sunlight, and it also protects against mechanical factors.
At the same time, it is the body’s own climate-control system, preventing us from overheating, getting too cold or losing too much water and as a result becoming dehydrated. Many people are unaware of its psychological and social function. Emotions, body language and physical contact also involve the skin – blushing is a good example of this.
If the skin barrier is damaged, foreign bodies can penetrate into the deep layers of the skin through the cracks in the “bricks”, and moisture can escape. As a result our skin dries out and looks wrinkly. If lipids and moisture are lost, the skin becomes dull and wrinkly and often starts to itch.
Regular moisturising with good treatment products improves the epidermal barrier and with it the skin’s resistance to damaging elements or bacteria and fungi, and it prevents the skin from drying out and becoming irritated.
What is the structure of the skin?
The function of the three layers of the skin
The epidermis is approx. 2 mm thick. Its outer layer, called the stratum corneum, is just 1/100th of a millimetre thick and is our barrier against the outside world. It regenerates continuously.
Beneath the epidermis is the dermis which contains elastin or collagen and is generously supplied with blood vessels, nerves and sebaceous glands. It makes the skin firm and, with the help of treatments, confers long-lasting elasticity.
Beneath the dermis is the subcutaneous tissue, a structure permeated by connective tissue which consists largely of fat cells and covers the muscles and tendons.
Together these three skin layers provide the body with excellent protection against water, heat and all other environmental factors. They also regulate moisture and help the body to excrete sweat and sebum. These functions are absolutely vital in keeping the body alive. Only healthy skin that receives optimal nutrition and care can fulfil every one of them.
What is the pH of the skin?
OUR SKIN IS IN THE ACID RANGE
Our skin has a natural barrier that is also known as the acid mantle. This barrier keeps harmful micro-organisms at bay and helps the skin to regulate its moisture content. An intact acid mantle makes it more difficult for disease-causing pathogens such as bacteria and viruses to get into the body.
This is why it is so important. The natural skin barrier is also known as the hydrolipid film, and it consists largely of water, lipids, enzymes, keratin cells, sebum and sweat. The acid mantle is so called because it has a slightly acid pH of 5.5 on average. The pH is much lower in the genital region and armpits. A pH of 7 (which is the pH of pure water) is considered to be neutral. Everything below 7 is acid, everything above is alkaline.
When caring for your skin you should make sure to avoid substances that could attack the skin’s natural acid mantle. Use products that are also suitable for sensitive skin. Mild products are generally a good idea – your acid mantle will thank you for using them.