Grandson and grandpa holding hands

Your skin’s structure

We wouldn’t be who we are without our skin. It protects us from the outside world, maintains our body temperature, creates essential vitamin D, and has a large amount of nerve fibres and nerve endings that enable it to act as a sensory organ. But it’s also sensitive and needs our care and attention to stay healthy.5

The structure of the skin5

Woman with lots of freckles

Our largest organ has three distinct parts:5

  • The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin having quantitatively the dominant keratinocytes. The stratum corneum is the most external part of the epidermis and serves as a physical barrier, protecting the body against external aggressions such as cold temperatures, UV and infections. The rest of the epidermis mostly serves the role of producing the skin barrier.
  • The dermis, the middle layer, which contains the blood vessels which supply the outer layer. The dermis also contains hair follicles, sweat glands and nerve endings.
  • The hypodermis (subcutis), the deepest layer, and the thickest part of the skin, which contains fat cells. These form an energy reserve and allow the thermal regulation of the body.

The role of the skin

Family playing together on the beach

The role of skin is to perform a wide variety of functions to form an effective barrier which comprises of physical, the chemical ⁄ biochemical (antimicrobial, innate immunity) and the adaptive immunological barriers.6 Skin helps in the protection of body from various physical and chemical reactions and act as a barrier to the exterior environment. It protects the body from friction and impact wounds with its flexibility and toughness. Harmful chemicals, bacteria, viruses and ultraviolet light are also prevented from entering the body by the skin. It also prevents water loss and regulates body temperature by blood flow and evaporation of sweat. These functionalities are critical to our well-being.5