Source: www.africanakua.com | Gabriel Fiebor, Ghana
The skin is the largest and heaviest organ of the human body. It is obvious that the main function of our skin is to protect the inside from the outside. Nonetheless, there is much more to our skin than just that.
The skin as we see is actually made up of three (3) basic layers.
- The epidermis (the outermost layer that we can see, feel or touch)
- The dermis (the deeper layer that is beneath the epidermis)
- The hypodermis (the base layer that is beneath the dermis)
Every day, our skin sheds about 500 million dead cells in order to maintain its structure. These dead cells (keratinocytes) produces a tough fibrous protein called keratin. These protein is what we see, feel or touch. They help protect the skin from microbes, heat and chemicals.
Also, the skin consists of another group of cells called melanocytes. They produce melanin which is responsible for our skin color. This skin pigment also shields the DNA of our skin from ultra violet rays.
However, our blood cells (specifically haemoglobin) and carotene imparts to our skin color. The amount of these substance within the skin causes our colors to vary from pale yellow to reddish brown or from brown to black.
FACTORS THAT AFFECT THE SKIN AND ITS COLOR
- Excess exposure to the ultra violet rays of the sun (these rays damages the DNA of the skin cells which results in skin cancer)
- Genetic abnormality e.g. albinism: this is where an individual is unable to produce melanin due to inherited characteristics.
- Smoking and drinking alcohol (they make the skin age faster due to disposition of harmful substances)
- Poor diet
- Improper use of skin products such as soaps, creams, etc. (they can do more harm than good)
How to maintain a good and healthy skin
- Protect yourself from the sun
- Avoid or limit smoking and alcohol
- Eat a balanced diet daily
- Use an oil moisturizer to keep the skin from drying
- Manage stress completely
- Present any skin lesions to the physician or an expert