Skin: The Largest Organ

Kim Ann Zimmermann, Live Science Contributor, reveals more information about the human body’s largest organ in her latest article.  The majority of our skin is water-proof because of keratin, a fibrous protein.

Our skin makes a fleshy surface for pimples, tattoos and wrinkles as well as being the largest organ, along with hair, nails, glands and nerves.  This is part of the integumentary system, according to Oregon State University, and acts as a protective barrier between the outside and the inside of the body.

The skin for adults accounts for about 16% of total body weight and has a surface area of about 22 square feet.  We all have different thicknesses and textures of skin on different parts of the body.  It is usually paper-thin underneath the eyes and thick on the soles of the feet and palms of the hand.  The epidermis, dermis and hypodermis are the three layers of tissue that the skin is composed of.

The epidermis is the top, visible layer that is always being renewed as dead skin cells are shed daily.  The functions are for making new skin cells, giving skin its color and protecting skin.

The dermis is the middle and thickest layer of skin that contains nerves and blood vessels as well as the sweat glands, oil glands and hair follicles.  The role of the dermis is to sense pain and touch, produce sweat and oils, grow hair, bring blood to the skin and fight infection.

The subcutaneous fat is the hypodermis or the deepest layer of skin made up of mostly fatty tissue that helps to insulate the body from heat and cold.  It also serves as an energy storage area for fat providing padding to cushion internal organs, muscle and bones, and protects the body from injuries, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library.

Dermatologists are the physicians who specialize in diseases, disorder and injuries of the skin, hair and nails.  Common ailments are treated by them as well as serious diseases like skin cancer.  Some of the conditions are warts and moles, acne and eczema and skin cancer.

Melanoma is the most serious skin cancer which is dark, changing and bleeding skin spots, according to Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School and medical director of Crutchfield Dermatology.  This is the rarest form of skin cancer that causes the majority of skin cancer deaths.

Dr Fredda Branyon