What is epidermis?
We’ve already discovered that the skin is the largest organ on the human body. Surprising to some, but here are a few other cool facts about the skin you may not know!
Your skin is composed of over 70% water. In fact, that is the exact same amount of water that covers the earth on a percentage basis (fyi, only 25% of the earth’s water is fresh water). The remaining 30% is broken up in this manner 25%-28% protein and 2%-5% lipids.
So why is that important to the Epidermis?
Because the top layer of skin, the epidermis layer, has certain functions and responsibilities that are important…. if you exclude the golden suntan we all want to enjoy each Summer. You see, the epidermis function is to act as an outer barrier that protects you from the unpleasant feeling of sunburn.
Now, there are three different layers of epidermis cells that make up its structure. These epidermal cells include the keratinocytes, melanocytes and Langerhans cells. Each of these cells has distinct responsibilities that are crucial to the health and overall look of your skin.
After all, when you glance down at your hand, you are looking at the epidermis!
How does the epidermis function?
Let’s explore the first group the keratinocytes. Have you ever scraped yourself or accidentally cut your finger while working on a project or cooking in the kitchen. If the answer is YES, then you just sent a message to the keratinocytes to jump into action.
They have three important functions:
Ever heard of keratin. If so, it’s a protein that is produced by the keratinocyets which are the largest cell group in the epidermis. Keratinocytes also act to bind the nerves of the skin and keep the Langerhans cells in place as well as the intra-dermal lymphocytes within the epidermis.
The biggest fear most people have when they experience a cut is that of infection.
Keratinocytes manage the immune system. Once a cut is created they begin to fill the gaps, similar to an army filling a breach in the front line. The epidermis calls up the reserve cells from the hair follicles to begin the mending process immediately and then they are reinforced by the keratinocytes originating from the epidermis.
Ever wonder why some people have great skin tone and color. That comes from the second cell group the Melanocytes. And you probably guessed that they’re responsible for the cells producing melanin pigment which is responsible for skin tone and color.
Melanocytes has another extremely important function, that being, protecting our skin from cancer. The melanin which is produced by the melanocytes not only contributes to skin coloration but also acts as a shield against hazardous uva and uvb rays by absorbing them.
There are a couple of conditions regarding melanin you need to be aware of regarding skin care. A deficiency (low) of melanin production normally causes a condition of depigmentation orhypo-pigmentation. Excess production of melanin results in pigmentation problems referred to as hyper-pigmentation.
The final group of cells that make up the epidermis are referred to as the langerhans cells. Their job is quite simple. Keep the enemy from penetrating you skin. Langerhans cells are located all over the epidermis. However, they have a huge presence in an area of the epidermis called the stratum spinosum, otherwise referred to as the as the “spinous” or “prickle-cell” layer.
Many people have trouble understanding the function of the epidermis. But look at it as an army with several layers of defense that interact for the well being of your skin. That should clear up an problems.
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