Anatomy And Function Of Skin

Skin is the largest organ of the body and is our first barrier against harmful agents, biological or other. Skin is what keeps our internal environment balanced, and loss of skin integrity through burns, infection or injury can lead to massive dehydration. Temperature regulation, sensation, lubrication and body odour are all functions of skin. The skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis and the basal layer. These are briefly considered below.

EPIDERMIS

The epidermis or outer layer of the skin is formed of keratinocytes. The outermost part of the epidermis is the horny layer (stratum corneum), and is formed of flattened dead keratinocytes. The epidermis consists of sub-layers of keratinocytes, which develop at the bottom and rise to the top, where they are eventually shed. Melanocytes and dendrititc cells are also found in the epidermis. Melanocytes, as their name suggests, are responsible for the production of melanin, and dendritic cells are part of the epidermal immune system.

DERMIS

The dermis is predominantly formed of connective tissue and is responsible for the skin's elasticity and strength. The dermis is vascular, and supplies nutrients to the avascular epidermis. It also contains hair follicles, sweat glands, sebaceous glands and nerve endings.

BASAL LAYER

This is the bottom layer of the skin, from which keratinocytes are formed.

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