Updated: Jun 18, 2021
Author: Jiahao Wu
Editors: Vincent Chang and Ken Saito
Artist: Gianluca Zhang
Skin, the largest organ of the human body, is a prized treasure. Many spend heaps of money buying expensive products to take care of their skin daily. Why is our skin so important?
One function of human skin is to hold bodily fluids in and keep unwelcome guests out. It prevents dehydration and keeps harmful microbes outside of our body to prevent infections from festering. Additionally, our skin contains many nerve endings, which allows for the sense of touch and signals us when we’re in pain. Because our skin is so important, we need to maintain its health as best we can. Another important aspect of our skin is its ability to absorb vitamin D from sunlight, which is crucial to maintaining our muscles, bones, calcium, and phosphates. Besides the aesthetic benefits of taking care of our skin, it also helps support our bodies’ first line of defense against bacteria.
Our skin comprises three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous fat layer. The epidermis is the thin outer layer. It consists of three types of cells: squamous cells, basal cells, and melanocytes. The outermost layer that continuously sheds is called the stratum corneum. Basal cells produce new skin cells. Finally, the melanocytes produce melanin, which gives our skin its color. The dermis is the middle layer of our skin for flexibility and contains our pain receptors. This layer also contains blood vessels, lymph vessels, hair follicles, sweat glands, collagen bundles, fibroblasts, nerves, and sebaceous glands. Collagen is what keeps this layer together. The deepest layer of skin is the subcutaneous fat layer, composed of collagen and fat cells. This layer mainly serves as a layer of insulation and a shock absorber.
The next time you get a cut and feel burning pain, when you get your hands dirty but don’t get sick, or when you feel too hot or too cold, keep in mind that your skin does so much more than you realize.
“Healthy Skin Matters.” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, 3 Dec. 2020,
“Default - Stanford Children's Health.” Stanford Children's Health - Lucile Packard Children's