The skin is the largest organ in the body. It is made up of three distinct layers, each serving a special function. The epidermis is the top layer of the skin. The epidermis acts as a first line of defense against toxins, foreign bodies, and the sun. Skin renewal occurs at this layer and the whole process takes about four weeks. The dermis is the middle layer of the skin. Sweat and sebaceous glands and hair follicles are found in this layer. Sebaceous glands produce an oily substance, called sebum, which lubricates and protects the skin.
Sweat glands are part of the body's cooling system; as sweat evaporates, body temperature drops. The subcutaneous layer is the deepest layer of the skin. This layer specializes in fat production, and is also key to the manufacture of vitamin D.
AGE SPOTS. Also known as liver spots, are flat, brown discolorations of the skin which usually occur on the back of the hands, neck, and face of people older than 40 years of age. They are caused by aging, exposure to the sun or other forms of ultraviolet light. Tretinoin and alpha-hydroxy acids may be applied to reduce the appearance of age spots. Sunscreens should be worn every day to prevent skin damage due to sun exposure.
FINE LINES AND WRINKLES. These are due to loss of skin's elasticity, tension, and fluid content. The best prevention is staying out of the sun and large intake of fluids. Many products are available over the counter that has their claims as "skin revitalizer." Tretinoin cream and other tretinoin preparations, AHA or a-hydroxy acids are also widely promoted against wrinkles, spots and other signs of aging.
SUNBURN. This is produced through extreme exposure to UVB of the sun. Erythema is the first manifestation followed by soreness and swelling. A known prevention of this is the use of sunblocking agents with SPF or Sun Protection Factor. Treatment includes the application of zinc lotions to sooth the area.
SCARS. These are formed when the dermis or the deep, thick layer of the skin is damaged. Often than not it is removed along with the complete healing of the wound. Vitamin E and C are known supplements that help fasten scar healing
SKIN INFECTIONS. Bacteria, fungi or viruses may cause skin infections. Breaks in the skin are favorite habitats of these microorganisms. For each specific skin infection, an appropriate anti-infective therapy is often given.
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