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The Skin

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The skin, which forms the outer covering of the body, has a surface area of about 1.5 - 2m2 in adults and it contains glands, hair and nails.

Structure of Skin:

Skin is made up of two layers:
The epidermis (or, outer covering)
The dermis (or, true skin)

The epidermis:

The outermost part of the epidermis consists of flat, dead cells that are constantly being shed

The underlying part of the epidermis is made up of rapidly dividing cells. These are continually pushing upwards and replacing the dead cells above them.

Specialized epidermis cells that extend downwards into the dermis produce hair and nails, which are also composed of dead cells.

The dermis:

The dermis is made up of tiny blood vessels and nerve endings that are densely woven into the flexible connective tissue. Sweat glands and oil glands are embedded in it.

General Features of Skin:

It is a barrier against germs, and a tough resilient cushion that protects the tissues underneath, and helps to regulate the body temperature.

When it is hot, glands in the skin secrete sweat, the evaporation of which causes cooling. Or when it is cold, constriction of the blood vessels in the skin cuts down the flow of blood near the body’s surface and so reduces heat loss.

Just below the surface of the skin are millions of tiny nerve endings. These are the touch receptors which tell us about the world through five different kinds of sensations pain, cold, heat, pressure and contact

The skin supplies much of the body’s vitamin D requirement by producing substances that changes into vitamin D when it is exposed to the Ultraviolet radiation in sunlight.

The thickness of the skin and the number of special structures vary in different parts of the body.

Skin is thinnest on the lips and thickest on the scalp, palms of the hands and soles of the feet (Continual pressure or friction can cause skin to thicken)

Hair follicles are found on nearly the whole body, being abundant on the scalp but absent in the skin of the soles and palms.

Sweat glands, oil glands and nerve endings are also unevenly distributed. There is a concentration of sweat glands in the armpits; nerve endings are most abundant in the lips and fingertips.

Skin owes its colour partly to the blood, redness of which shows through translucent tissues, and partly to various pigments in the epidermis


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