what is the largest organ?
Have you ever been at a pub quiz and got the answer to “what’s the body’s largest organ?” incorrect? You’re not the only one. Few people think of the skin as an organ, let alone the body’s largest. In fact, as adults, we carry some 8 pounds and 22 square feet of it. Impressive as it may be, our skin does a lot more than simply make us look presentable. In fact, without it, we’d (quite literally) evaporate.
First of all, our skin acts as our very own waterproof and insulating barrier to the outside world. It protects us from extremes of temperature, the effects of the sun’s damaging UV rays and harmful chemicals that exist in the atmosphere around us. What’s more, it also produces helpful antibacterial substances that prevent infection, and is responsible for manufacturing the all-important Vitamin D, for converting calcium into healthy bones. Allowing us free movement whilst also acting as a huge nerve-packed “sensor”, it enables the body and brain to act according to the outside world perfectly.
But what is skin, exactly? Well, it’s important to know that it’s made up of three important layers. The outer layer is the epidermis, which consists mainly of cells called keratinocytes (made from the protein keratin, also found in our hair and nails). These cells work away forming several layers that constantly grow outwards, as the exterior cells die and flake off. The process of newly-created cells working their way up to the surface takes roughly five weeks. This layer of dead skin (also known as the stratum corneum) is often thickest on the soles of our feet (cue, that much-needed pedicure!) and thinnest around our delicate eye area.
The layer sitting just below the epidermis is called the dermis, which gives the skin its strength and elasticity. It’s also jam-packed with blood vessels which help the body regulate extremes of temperature, as well as nerve receptors which relay things like touch, temperature and pain back to the brain. The dermis is also full of collagen and elastin - the very materials many of our products help to boost to production of.
Finally, the skin’s base layer is called the subcutis, which is also made up of a fat layer to be used as a fuel reserve in case of food shortage. Simultaneously, it works as insulation and helps to cushion the bones and other organs from injury.
Now that we know the importance of the skin as a whole, and its three layers, what changes will you make to your skin routine to help protect it as much as possible?