The skin is the largest organ of the body and as such it is vital in maintaining general health.
The skin is made up of three different layers :
- the epidermis
- the dermis
- the supporting subcutaneous layer.
This is the outside layer that we can see. It protects us from the external environment. The skin sheds itself of old cells and constantly renews itself. This becomes thinner in ageing skin and is also where age spots will show. Sun damage affects this layer of skin causing thinning, brown blotches and the growth of skin lesions. The epidermis is extremely thin but very efficient. It can be damaged by a variety of insults such as skin diseases particularly eczema, skin trauma, using too much soap, detergents and hot water, as well as indoor heating and low humidity in the winter months.
Soap, detergent and hot water make the skin dry by removing the skins protective lipids or oils which then becomes more porous and lets moisture escape from the skin making the skin dry. When the epidermis is normal and well moisturised it is smooth, but when it is dehydrated, it is flaky and rough.
This layer contains the structural elements of the skin and this is where we find elastin (5%) and collagen (95%). The presence of these is affected by factors such as the sun and smoking. The sun will cause collagen to break down at a faster rate than is normal and also causes wrinkles. This layer also becomes thinner in ageing skin.
The hypodermis (also known as subcutaneous layer)
This layer is where the fat cells lie giving skin its plumpness, the reduction in these fat cells can contribute to sagging of the skin and wrinkles . It contains vital blood vessels for nourishing and supplying the skin and nerve cells for your sensation.