The human skin

The skin is the largest organ of man, it protects people against external influences. On the outside, the skin looks quite simple, but once you know what your skin is for, what complicated procedures it goes through and how it works, you will never look at your skin without respect again.

Skin structure

The skin is not the same everywhere on our body, just look at the skin on our head, which contains by far the most hair. The skin on our palms and soles has virtually no hair at all. The least hair is on the hands, feet and face. Except for men, where the beard and mustache are located. Yet most of the skin on our bodies is hairy. Our skin consists of three layers:


This also consists of two layers: the basal layer that contains Keratinocytes and some melanocytes , these are the cells that make up the epidermis. The melanocytes secrete pigment that they pass on to the keratinocytes with which they protect their cell nucleus against UV radiation. Cell division only takes place in the lower layers of the basal layer. This causes the other cells to move upwards and at a certain height the cells keratinize and form the outer layer of the skin, the stratum corneum. This stratum corneum is the layer that is in contact with the outside world. This outer layer protects the body against moisture loss and external influences. The epidermis is continuously renewed by the shifting of the cells, this process takes an average of four to six weeks.


The dermis contains the glands, veins and hair follicle. This layer ensures the firmness of the skin and consists of dense connective tissue. The dermis contains sebaceous and sweat glands, hair follicles, nerves and blood vessels. These are supported by connective tissue and collagen.


The hypodermis consists of a layer of connective tissue and subcutaneous fat and is mainly used for fat storage.

Skin facts

The skin has an average surface area of one and a half to two square meters and weighs approximately four kilos. The thickness of the skin varies from 0.1 mm to more than four mm. That depends on where the skin is located. A square centimeter of skin contains approximately one hundred sweat glands, ten hairs, seventy meters of blood vessels, fifty centimeters of nerves, 230 sensory receptors, 15 sebaceous glands and more than 400,000 cells. A man’s skin is about fifteen to twenty percent thicker than a woman’s. Men also have more capillaries and nerve endings. Women have a lower sweat production, so the skin retains moisture better. Women are more likely to get wrinkles than men, but these wrinkles are less deep than those of men. Men have a less thick subcutaneous fat layer than women, which means their skin responds more strongly to stimuli and they are more sensitive to pain. The PH value (acidity) in women’s skin is lower than that of men, which means women have a higher resistance to bacteria.

Functions of the skin

Without skin man cannot live. One can even die from too much skin loss, for example due to burning. This depends on the age of a person and the amount of skin that has been burned third degree:


Survival rate if burned:

Risk of death if burned:

Young age

22% skin

75% skin


12% skin

58% skin

Older age

2% skin

23% skin

The most important thing to do first when a person is burned is cooling. If necessary with ditch water . Preferably 15 minutes with lukewarm water, only cool the burned area to prevent hypothermia.
The skin protects us against bacteria and toxins from outside. The skin is also very important for regulating the temperature of the body . The hairs and sweat glands perform the function of maintaining the temperatures of the body. When the body becomes warmer than an average of thirty-seven degrees Celsius, the eccrine sweat glands secrete sweat ( eccrine sweat glands are the sweat glands found all over the body, not to be confused with the glands under the armpits). These glands will release sweat onto the skin surface, causing it to evaporate and thus cool the body. The blood vessels in the dermis expand so that the body can lose even more heat. When the body becomes too cold, the blood vessels constrict. Erecting muscles in the hair follicles also ensure that the hairs stand upright. As a result, they create a warm layer of air. If there is too little body hair, you get goosebumps. Through the receptors in the skin we feel pain, cold, heat and pressure. The nails are an extension of the skin, provide tactile experiences and help with finer work such as picking up a needle or a coin.

Skin conditions


Because blood has leaked from the blood vessels and clots in the surrounding tissue, a bruise occurs. The structure in the blood changes due to a number of chemical reactions in the blood, leading to discoloration of the area. That’s why a bruise always turns all kinds of colors before it disappears. If you keep having bruises for no apparent reason, it is wise to visit a doctor. You may be deficient in vitamin C, but it could also be a sign of hemophilia. Hemophilia is a blood disorder that prevents the blood from clotting properly.


Certain foods can cause an allergic reaction, but heat and ultraviolet rays can also cause hives.

Cold rash:

This herpes simplex virus stays in your system once you have had it. It is highly contagious and can infect someone else before it becomes visible. It is very dangerous for newborn babies. The cause is often a reduced immune system due to illness. But cold sores can also occur due to drying out of the lips, due to sun or cold. The most common site of cold sores is the lips, but it can also appear in the nostrils. It is also sexually transmitted, so it can also occur on the genitals.


Acne is caused by blockage of the hair follicles. Excessive sebum secretion is the reason for clogging of hair follicles. During adolescence, hormone levels change, causing more sebum to be secreted. The acne causes blackheads, thick red pimples and fluid-filled cysts. Acne can be very painful and cause scarring, especially if one tries to squeeze it.


Boils are hair follicles that are severely infected. These hair follicles become full of pus and it is then necessary to puncture the boil. This causes the pus to drain and the wound to heal.


Because a virus penetrates the epidermis, warts develop, which are highly contagious. This virus causes the skin to divide rapidly and causes the skin to rise.


As the skin ages, it loses its elasticity. From the age of twenty-five, collagen production steadily decreases. Collagen is a major component of the skin’s connective tissue. By reducing the collagen in the dermis, the skin becomes less supple and firm. The production of sebaceous glands and sweat glands is also reduced, making the subcutaneous tissue less oily. Wrinkles and spots appear, which are intensified by the harmful effects of the outside world. We try to smooth away the wrinkles with all kinds of expensive creams and masks. Once wrinkles appear, creams cannot change them. A good reason to continue lubricating is the effect it has on external influences. By applying cream you apply a protective layer to your skin so that wind, sun and pollution have less influence on your skin.

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