Skin’s Protective Barrier Part 1: What the Skin Does and How It Protects Us

Our skin covers our bodies, it gets picked at, scratched, bruised and experiences its own set of diseases and problems throughout a lifetime. The skin needs to be cared for day in and day out, so taking a step back and thinking about it, the skin can sometimes seem a nuisance as it requires a lot of care and attention. We know our skin is important, but are we truly aware how vital it is and what the skin is protecting us from?

The skin is our body’s greatest defense system

Skin is the body’s largest organ. It is also our first and best defence against external aggressors.

Skin is the body’s largest organ. It is also our first and best defence against external aggressors. When skin is healthy, the layers work efficiently to protect us from the bacteria that is in the air around us all the time. When the skin’s condition is compromised, its ability to serve as an effective barrier against the threats of the outside world is impaired.

The choice to use skin care products that help to restore and maintain the skin’s optimum pH and support its natural defenses is important. This will make the skin much more resilient and less sensitive to the many things that might try to penetrate it throughout your daily life. Using products that work with the skin’s protective barrier also keep the skin looking and feeling its natural best. Skin can look and feel great while doing its job of protecting us.

What is the actual job of our skin?

The skin also regulates the body’s temperature, by insulating our bodies.

Skin is the ultimate multi-tasker. It is able to perform many functions that are essential to our overall health and wellbeing as human beings, including our psychological health. Because the skin is the first thing others see when they look at us and the first thing that we view in the mirror, the skin plays a large role in how we feel about ourselves. The skin can also reveal the first signs that we are becoming sick. Therefore, the condition of our skin also will affect how other people view us.

Skin’s most important role is as the first line of defence between our bodies and the world we live in. It protects us and helps to keep us healthy by doing several things all at once. For instance, the skin maintains the balance of fluids in the body. It does this by binding in moisture when necessary and preventing moisture loss. The skin also regulates the body’s temperature, by insulating our bodies. It is able to allow the body to conserve heat in colder conditions and perspire (sweat) to prevent overheating when it gets hot outside.

Without the skin we would have a very difficult time sensing pain. Our skin is able to absorb shock and alert us through our nerves to danger in the outside world. Healthy skin constantly shields the entire body from all manner of harm and informs us about our environment. Without this, a person could expect to be sick more often due to the lack of an effective, protective barrier.

What exactly is the skin protecting us from?

An overexposure to the sun's rays can generate harmful free radicals.

There are five primary things that the skin is constantly protecting the body from. There are several other things that the skin is able to protect the body and other organs from, but the list below includes the most relevant and important.

  1. Temperature: The skin helps to regulate the body’s temperature, control moisture loss and maintain the overall balance of fluids in the body.
  2. Disease: The skin works to neutralize aggressors from the outside world. These aggressors can be bacteria, viruses, fungi and/or pollution. Healthy skin prevents all of these from entering the body and causing further complication.
  3. UV Rays: An overexposure to the sun’s rays can generate harmful free radicals. These are aggressive molecules that cause cell damage. The skin is able to guard our bodies from a lot of the damage that free radicals could cause if they were not neutralized.
  4. Pressure, bruises and scratches: The skin is able to recognize pain and send signals to the brain telling you that your body might be in danger. The skin acts as a warning system, barrier and shock absorber when the body comes into contact with something that could harm it.
  5. Chemical Substances: The body’s skin is the first line of defense against the aggressive chemical formulas that we may encounter on a day-to-day basis. This means chemicals in the workplace or even chemicals in cleaning supplies at home. If these chemicals had free entrance into our bodies, they could do endless amounts of damage. The skin prevents this from happening.