Which of your body organs gives you an identity? Which organ encloses your other organs, keeps away germs and diseases, keeps you warm when necessary and cools you down when needed, gives off antibacterial that prevents infection and prevents the damaging effect of excessive sunlight on your system? Which body organ makes you look beautiful? Your Skin. Yes, the all protective skin. It is also responsible for your sensitivity to things you come in contact with as it has numerous nerves connected to the brain. Your skin carry out these functions with great competence, every day of your life. It is therefore necessary for you to understand the skin make-up.
Skin layers and their functions
The epidermis, dermis and subcutis make up the three layers of your skin. They work together to execute all skin functions.
Keratinocyte, a product of the tough protein fibre, keratin, make up the bulk of the epidermis. Keratinocytes form layers and grow continuously. Old ones are pushed to the exterior as new ones are formed. The newly formed cells can take up to five days to reach the exterior before falling off. They are dead cells, scientifically referred to as strateum corneum. Langerhan cells which alert the body’s immune system to threats of viral and infectious diseases are located in the epidermis.
Beneath the epidermis is the dermis. It bears collagen and elastin fibres which are responsible for the strength and elasticity of the skin. Blood vessels that are embedded in the dermis regulate the body temperature as required by the body. Nerves and neurons responsible for sensitivity are also embedded here. Apocrine, sebaceous glands, sweat glands and hair follicles also originate from the dermis.
Subcutis is the skin layer found under the dermis. It consists of a large deposit of fat which acts as reserve for times of severe food shortage. This fat deposit serves as insulation as well as a cushion when we fall.
Unlike the different body layers which are same for all individuals, skin types differ from one individual to the other. Your skin type depends largely on genetics coupled with moisture content and amount of sebum produced by your skin.
Normal skin: A normal skin is well proportioned, having normal moisture content and sebum production, neither oily nor dry. It is clear, glowy and smooth. They often occur in young people. The skin pores are fine and hardly seen. Skin tone is even, clear and smooth. Complexion is radiant, without blemish. This skin type is very resistant to harsh elements and irritants. Normal skin is less likely to suffer infection and irritation.
Dry skin: This skin type is tight, inelastic and brittle. It lacks adequate moisture and sebum, often scaly and rough. The skin tone is uneven, pores are barely visible and complexion is dull. The skin often feels itchy and sore making it prone to infection and irritation. Dry skin stretch and break readily, making wrinkles and fine lines more pronounced.
Genetic and environmental factors are primarily responsible for dry skin. Dehydration and long warm baths can also contribute to skin dryness. Hot water strips the skin of its protective oil says dermatologist Dr. Rogers, MD. People with dry skin produce less sebum and lack natural moisturizing properties which help the skin retain moisture. As you age your skin gets dryer as it is continuously stripped of moisture and sebum. Dry skin is common in women than men occurring more on the arms, hands, legs and soles.
Sensitive skin: This skin type is the extreme case of dry skin. It itches more readily, turning red more often. Sores are quick to break out on sensitive skin. The skin is easily irritated either by the environment or cosmetics.
Sensitive skin is scaly and tingly. Spots are common on the skin. It is very fragile and prone to infection. People having severe sickness or compromised immune system can develop sensitive skin even if they did not have such skin before.
Oily skin: Oily skin is pale, looking less aged. It is often shiny and greasy, very prone to acne breakouts. The pores are pronounced and visible, clogged with dirt trapped by excess oil. Skin infection can occur from time to time as the large pores serve as breeding room for microbes.
Oily skin is greatly influenced by genetics but other factors like hormonal changes, diet, stress, cosmetics and lifestyle can cause oily skin. It is more common among men than women occurring more in adolescents and teenagers.
Combination skin: This is the most common skin type. When an individual has different skin types on different parts of the body, it becomes a combination skin. There is varying proportion of sebum production and moisture retention all over the entire body surface.
For most people having a combination skin, the face is usually oily while the leg and arms are often dry. The oily face has pronounced pores trapping dirt and bacteria therefore prone to infection. Other parts of the skin may be normal or dry. If the arms and legs are dry, itchiness may occur leading to irritation. People with combination skin type have oily T zone (forehead, chin and nose) on their face.
How to Check Your Skin Type
Use a clean face tissue to carry out this simple test to determine your skin type. The face will serve as a body sample for this skin test. Wipe your face in the morning immediately after waking up. If you have a normal skin type, the tissue will have no trace of oil. If you have a dry skin, there will be no trace of oil on the tissue too. However, your face will feel dry and flaky after drying it with the tissue. Oil spots will appear on the tissue if you have oil skin. The oil trace will correspond with the forehead, nose and cheeks. Combination skin will show trace of oil on the tissue corresponding with the forehead and nose but not the cheeks.
Skin types greatly influence skin texture. The amount of sebum produced and the skin’s capacity to retain moisture determines the texture of the skin.
Dry skins usually feel flaky and brittle due to limited sebum production and inability of the skin to retain enough moisture. This gives the skin a coarse texture. They easily develop wrinkles and age more rapidly.
Oily skin is shiny and feels slippery. Due to its ability to trap dirt. The skin may feel dusty as dusts are trapped by oil onto the skin. Oil skin can feel slightly swollen as the numerous wide pores are filled with air.
Normal skin feels smooth. It has a fine texture. Pores are barely visible as there are no trapping of dirt or inflation with air. The skin appears vibrant, elastic and supple. It has a good circulation, and looks healthy.
Combination skin feels like all the skin types. Parts of the skin that is normal will feel smooth to touch, having good circulation. Dry part of the body will feel flaky and coarse while the oil skin part of the body will feel greasy and thick.
Sensitive skin feels even flakier than dry skin, peeling off constantly. They are very coarse and might be swollen from frequent sores and irritation.
Common Skin Discoloration Problems
By now you are well acquainted with the several skin types and textures. Some skin textures might be problematic while others give no stress. Common skin texture problems include the following;
• Flaky skin
• Uneven skin texture
• Skin patches
• Pale skin
7 Ways to Treat Your Skin Discoloration
There are many ways to improve the skin or treat any skin texture problem. However, it is very important and beneficial to develop a daily routine care for your skin. The truth is that adequate skin care can prevent skin texture problems.
According to dermatologist Heather D. Rogers, MD., there are 3 important steps to keep looking young at any age; protect your skin from the sun, provide your skin with nutrients to improve skin turnover and use products that gently remove the top layer of the dead skin.
Daily cleansing, moisturizing and use of sunscreen are simple routines to care for your skin daily. If skin texture problems occur, you can treat them in the following ways:
• Make antioxidants your best friend: Antioxidants are chemicals gotten from natural or processed products that neutralize free radical activities in the body. Free radicals are involved in excessive oxidation which harms the body. With time they destroy the collagen in the body and greatly reduce the elasticity of the skin. They wreak havoc on the skin over time. Use skin care products that contain antioxidants like vitamin A, C and E. Take plenty of fruits like tomato and carrot as they are rich in antioxidants. Sun flower oil and green tea extracts are also natural sources of antioxidants.
• Exfoliation: The outermost cell of the epidermis is shed every five days. Exfoliation is the conscious removal of the dead cells of the epidermis still stuck to the skin. It leaves your skin smooth and fresh. You can use natural or chemical products to exfoliate. Exfoliate at most twice in a week. Excessive exfoliation is bad, don’t overdo it. Use small amount of retinoids, glycolic or salicylic acid to help remove dead skin. If you have a sensitive skin, exfoliate less frequently using gentle scrubs. It removes flaky skin, making room for new skin to grow. Exfoliation gives you an even skin tone.
How you should be exfoliating your skin by skin type
• Moisturize daily: Skin texture problems like flaky and itchy skin arise due to dryness. Moisturizing gives more moisture to your skin, making it smoother and hydrated. Patches occur less on a skin that is well moisturized. Endeavor to moisturize daily after bath. The effects of good moisturizers can be seen within few days of usage. However, continuous usage gives more sustainable result. Use oil based moisturizer if you have dry skin and water based ones if you have oily skin. Those with normal skin are safe with healthy moisturizers.
Click here for guide on the best moisturizer for your skin.
• Eat healthy: Our daily diet can cause some major skin texture problems. Some people have recurring acne because they consume lots of unnecessary fats and oil. Others have dry skin leading to a coarse skin texture because they don’t take enough water. Aside antioxidant rich foods, ensure that your daily meal is balanced. Avoid too much oil if you have oily skin. Keep yourself hydrated by taking enough water daily. High glycemic index foods contribute to acne says dermatologist, Dr. Soheil Simzer of Ava MD.
• Make proper use of your sunscreen: Intense sunlight cause more harm than good to the skin. It causes sunburn, excessive dryness, pale skin and irritations. The sun makes the skin wrinkle and speeds up aging. According to an article from the skincare department of University of Maryland Medical center, exposure to sunlight is the most important cause of premature aging. UV rays present in sunlight cause great damage to the skin when you expose yourself to visible or invisible sunlight. Daily use of sunscreen prevents your skin from wrinkling and diminishes any previous lines or wrinkles. Use a good broad spectrum sunscreen (preferably SPF of 15 at least) to protect your skin from damage.
To learn how to use sunscreen on your skin click here.
• Pamper your skin once in a while: Your skin does so much for you, therefore it deserves a spa treatment once in a while. Spas range from modest and affordable to expensive and classy. Choose one that suits your budget. Good spas offer quality services. They have professionals who know how best to give your skin a soothing treatment. From massages to facials, a good spa treatment will enhance proper circulation in the skin which in turn gives you a desirable look. Good spas offer professional help for various skin texture problems.
• See a good dermatologist: Some skin texture problems can only be treated by a good dermatologist. When you have tried all the above procedures diligently with no positive result, you might have to visit a skin doctor. They will diagnose any persisting skin texture problem and offer treatments. Always choose a professional dermatologist who you are comfortable with. You might need to work hand in hand with your doctor to achieve a positive result. If you have sensitive skin, be careful of the products you use. It is better to get professional guidance for the cosmetics you use on your skin.
This video shows how to treat your skin discoloration and treat acne