Home > Main functions of human skin
Barrier and protectionBeing the natural barrier, skin protects the internal organs of the body from exposure to the natural elements and pathogens. Further it provides mechanical support to the body by covering and holding together the internal organs.
Desquamation and self-healingThe outer layer of human epidermis is prone to physical damage and it has to be repaired continuously. It is continuously renewed by cell proliferation at dermis level and in epidermis the outer most layers undergoing desquamation.
UV protectionThe melanin pigment present in the skin, by filtering the Ultraviolet rays to some extent, protect it from sun damages and cancer.
Thermoregulatory functionsSweat glands present in the human skin produce sweat (perspiration) in hot conditions.
By the effect of latent heat of evaporation it is cooled when the sweat evaporates.
RadiationExcess heat from the body, as in the case of exercise or having fever, is radiated by the skin to the surroundings to stabilize and bring the body temperature down.
This is brought about by increase in blood supply to the dermis and dilation of dermal blood vessels.
Insulation functionsThe human skin insulates the body to great extent by not allowing the body to lose heat and absorb cold from the surroundings.
Further by constriction of dermal blood vessels lesser amount of blood flows to dermis and heat loss is reduced.
Immunological surveillanceThere are numerous specialized Langerhans cells present which can identify harmful proteins and substances and take them to white blood cells and neutralize them.
SensationTo bring about one of its main functions, nerve endings and special nerve cells in it contribute to the sensations like touch, pressure, vibrations, pain, cold and heat.
Though there are millions of nerve endings in it, their main concentration differs at different regions of the human body and some regions are very sensitive.
Main absorption functionsSkin can take in and/or release small amounts of gases like oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen.
Oxygen is taken in and carbon dioxide is released out in small quantities to help in respiration.
Its absorbing capacity is utilized to send in medicines in the form of ointments and patches.
Various skin care and cosmetic products also get absorbed through it.
The main absorption functions can be either trans-cellular or inter-cellular.
ExcretionOne of its main functions is the excretion of metabolic waste products and toxic substances like salt and urea.
Vitamin productionIn humans, vitamin D synthesis is one of its main functions and in the presence of UV rays by chemical interactions with a naturally occurring lipid known as ergosterol, vitamin D is produced.
Storage functionsLipids and water are stored in the epidermis to control loss of moisture from the body.
Excess lipids in the system are stored in the human skin.
Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Skin.png
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