Skin


Skin
Skin
HumanSkinDiagram.jpg
A diagram of human skin.
A close up picture of a rhinoceros skin.

Skin is the soft outer covering of vertebrates. Other animal coverings such as the arthropod exoskeleton or the seashell have different developmental origin, structure and chemical composition. The adjective cutaneous means "of the skin" (from Latin cutis, skin). In mammals, the skin is the largest organ of the integumentary system made up of multiple layers of ectodermal tissue, and guards the underlying muscles, bones, ligaments and internal organs.[1] Skin of a different nature exists in amphibians, reptiles, and birds.[2] All mammals have some hair on their skin, even marine mammals which appear to be hairless. Because it interfaces with the environment, skin plays a key role in protecting (the body) against pathogens[3] and excessive water loss.[4] Its other functions are insulation, temperature regulation, sensation, and the protection of vitamin D folates. Severely damaged skin may heal by forming scar tissue. This is often discoloured and depigmented.

Fur is dense hair. Primarily, fur augments the insulation the skin provides but can also serve as a secondary sexual characteristic or as camouflage. On some animals, the skin is very hard and thick, and can be processed to create leather. Reptiles and fish have hard protective scales on their skin for protection, and birds have hard feathers, all made of tough β-keratins. Amphibian skin is not a strong barrier to passage of chemicals and is often subject to osmosis. For example, a frog sitting in an anesthetic solution could quickly go to sleep.

Contents

Functions

Skin performs the following functions:

  1. Protection: an anatomical barrier from pathogens and damage between the internal and external environment in bodily defense; Langerhans cells in the skin are part of the adaptive immune system.[3][4]
  2. Sensation: contains a variety of nerve endings that jump to heat and cold, touch, pressure, vibration, and tissue injury; see somatosensory system and haptic perception.
  3. Heat regulation: increase perfusion and heatloss, while constricted vessels greatly reduce cutaneous blood flow and conserve heat. Erector pili muscles are significant in animals.
  4. Control of evaporation: the skin provides a relatively dry and semi-impermeable barrier to fluid loss.[4]
  5. Storage and synthesis: acts as a storage center for lipids and water
  6. Absorption: oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide can diffuse into the epidermis in small amounts; some animals use their skin as their sole respiration organ (in humans, the cells comprising the outermost 0.25–0.40 mm of the skin are "almost exclusively supplied by external oxygen", although the "contribution to total respiration is negligible")[5]
  7. Water resistance: The skin acts as a water resistant barrier so essential nutrients aren't washed out of the body.

Mammalian skin layers

Mammalian skin is composed of two primary layers:

  • the epidermis, which provides waterproofing and serves as a barrier to infection; and
  • the dermis, which serves as a location for the appendages of skin;

Epidermis

Epidermis, "epi" coming from the Greek meaning "over" or "upon", is the outermost layer of the skin. It forms the waterproof, protective wrap over the body's surface and is made up of stratified squamous epithelium with an underlying basal lamina.[citation needed]

The epidermis contains no blood vessels, and cells in the deepest layers are nourished by diffusion from blood capillaries extending to the upper layers of the dermis. The main type of cells which make up the epidermis are Merkel cells, keratinocytes, with melanocytes and Langerhans cells also present. The epidermis can be further subdivided into the following strata (beginning with the outermost layer): corneum, lucidum (only in palms of hands and bottoms of feet), granulosum, spinosum, basale. Cells are formed through mitosis at the basale layer. The daughter cells (see cell division) move up the strata changing shape and composition as they die due to isolation from their blood source. The cytoplasm is released and the protein keratin is inserted. They eventually reach the corneum and slough off (desquamation). This process is called keratinization and takes place within about 27 days. This keratinized layer of skin is responsible for keeping water in the body and keeping other harmful chemicals and pathogens out, making skin a natural barrier to infection. The epidermis helps the skin to regulate body temperature.[citation needed]

[also see:  image rotating (1.1 mb) ]
Optical coherence tomogram of fingertip, depicting stratum corneum (~500 µm thick) with stratum disjunctum on top and stratum lucidum (connection to stratum spinosum) in the middle. At the bottom superficial parts of the dermis. Sweatducts are clearly visible.

[citation needed]

Layers

The epidermis is divided into several layers where cells are formed through mitosis at the innermost layers. They move up the strata, changing shape and composition as they differentiate and become filled with keratin. They eventually reach the top layer, called the stratum corneum, consisting of approximately 15-350 layers of dead cells strengthened and made water-resistant by the keratin. This process is called keratinization. The dead cells are then sloughed off, or desquamated, which takes place within weeks.[citation needed]

Sublayers

Epidermis is divided into the following 5 sublayers or strata:[6]

Blood capillaries are found beneath the epidermis, and are linked to an arteriole and a venule. Arterial shunt vessels may bypass the network in ears, the nose and fingertips.[citation needed]

Dermis
Gray942.png
The distribution of the bloodvessels in the skin of the sole of the foot. (Corium - TA alternate term for dermis - is labeled at upper right.)
Gray940.png
A diagrammatic sectional view of the skin (click on image to magnify). (Dermis labeled at center right.)
Gray's subject #234 1065
MeSH Dermis
Dorlands/Elsevier Skin

Dermis

The dermis is the layer of skin beneath the epidermis that consists of connective tissue and cushions the body from stress and strain. The dermis is tightly connected to the epidermis by a basement membrane. It also harbors many Mechanoreceptors (nerve endings) that provide the sense of touch and heat. It contains the hair follicles, sweat glands, sebaceous glands, apocrine glands, lymphatic vessels and blood vessels. The blood vessels in the dermis provide nourishment and waste removal from its own cells as well as from the Stratum basale of the epidermis.

The dermis is structurally divided into two areas: a superficial area adjacent to the epidermis, called the papillary region, and a deep thicker area known as the reticular region.

Papillary region

The papillary region is composed of loose areolar connective tissue. This is named for its fingerlike projections called papillae, that extend toward the epidermis. The papillae provide the dermis with a "bumpy" surface that interdigitates with the epidermis, strengthening the connection between the two layers of skin.

Reticular region

The reticular region lies deep in the papillary region and is usually much thicker. It is composed of dense irregular connective tissue, and receives its name from the dense concentration of collagenous, elastic, and reticular fibres that weave throughout it. These protein fibres give the dermis its properties of strength, extensibility, and elasticity. Also located within the reticular region are the roots of the hair, sebaceous glands, sweat glands, receptors, nails, and blood vessels.

Hypodermis

The hypodermis is not part of the skin, and lies below the dermis. Its purpose is to attach the skin to underlying bone and muscle as well as supplying it with blood vessels and nerves. It consists of loose connective tissue and elastin. The main cell types are fibroblasts, macrophages and adipocytes (the hypodermis contains 50% of body fat). Fat serves as padding and insulation for the body. Another name for the hypodermis is the subcutaneous tissue.

Microorganisms like Staphylococcus epidermidis colonize the skin surface. The density of skin flora depends on region of the skin. The disinfected skin surface gets recolonized from bacteria residing in the deeper areas of the hair follicle, gut and urogenital openings.

In fish and amphibians

The epidermis of fish and of most amphibians consists entirely of live cells, with only minimal quantities of keratin in the cells of the superficial layer. It is generally permeable, and, in the case of many amphibians, may actually be a major respiratory organ. The dermis of bony fish typically contains relatively little of the connective tissue found in tetrapods. Instead, in most species, it is largely replaced by solid, protective bony scales. Apart from some particularly large dermal bones that form parts of the skull, these scales are lost in tetrapods, although many reptiles do have scales of a different kind, as do pangolins. Cartilaginous fish have numerous tooth-like denticles embedded in their skin, in place of true scales.

Sweat glands and sebaceous glands are both unique to mammals, but other types of skin gland are found in other vertebrates. Fish typically have a numerous individual mucus-secreting skin cells that aid in insulation and protection, but may also have poison glands, photophores, or cells that produce a more watery, serous fluid. In amphibians, the mucus cells are gathered together to form sac-like glands. Most living amphibians also possess granular glands in the skin, that secrete irritating or toxic compounds.[7]

Although melanin is found in the skin of many species, in reptiles, amphibians, and fish, the epidermis is often relatively colourless. Instead, the colour of the skin is largely due to chromatophores in the dermis, which, in addition to melanin, may contain guanine or carotenoid pigments. Many species, such as chameleons and flounders may be able to change the colour of their skin by adjusting the relative size of their chromatophores.[7]

In birds and reptiles

The epidermis of birds and reptiles is closer to that of mammals, with a layer of dead keratin-filled cells at the surface, to help reduce water loss. A similar pattern is also seen in some of the more terrestrial amphibians, such as toads. However, in all of these animals there is no clear differentiation of the epidermis into distinct layers, as occurs in humans, with the change in cell type being relatively gradual. The mammalian epidermis always possesses at least a stratum germinativum and stratum corneum, but the other intermediate layers found in humans are not always distinguishable. Hair is a distinctive feature of mammalian skin, while feathers are (at least among living species) similarly unique to birds.[7]

Birds and reptiles have relatively few skin glands, although there may be a few structures for specific purposes, such as pheromone-secreting cells in some reptiles, or the uropygial gland of most birds.[7]

Mechanics

Skin has a soft tissue mechanical behavior when stretched. The intact skin is prestreched (i.e. has residual stress) like neoprene wetsuits around the diver's body. When deep cuts are made on the skin, it retracts, widening the slice hole.

Human uses and culture

The term "skin" may also refer to the covering of a small animal, such as a sheep, goat (goatskin), pig, snake (snakeskin) etc. or the young of a large animal.

The term hides or rawhide refers to the covering of a large adult animal such as a cow, buffalo, horse etc.

Skins and hides from different animals are used for clothing, bags and other consumer products, usually in the form of leather, but also furs.

Skin from sheep, goat and cattle was used to make parchment for manuscripts.

Skin can also be cooked to make pork rind or crackling.

Detailed cross section

Skin layers, of both hairy and hairless skin

See also

References

  1. ^ "Skin care" (analysis), Health-Cares.net, 2007, webpage: HCcare.
  2. ^ Alibardi L. (2003). Adaptation to the land: The skin of reptiles in comparison to that of amphibians and endotherm amniotes. J Exp Zoolog B Mol Dev Evol. 298(1):12-41. PMID 12949767
  3. ^ a b Proksch E, Brandner JM, Jensen JM. (2008).The skin: an indispensable barrier. Exp Dermatol. 17(12):1063-72. PMID 19043850
  4. ^ a b c Madison KC. (2003). Barrier function of the skin: "la raison d'être" of the epidermis. J Invest Dermatol. 121(2):231-41. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1747.2003.12359.x PMID 12880413
  5. ^ Stücker, M., A. Struk, P. Altmeyer, M. Herde, H. Baumgärtl & D.W. Lübbers (2002). The cutaneous uptake of atmospheric oxygen contributes significantly to the oxygen supply of human dermis and epidermis.PDF Journal of Physiology 538(3): 985–994. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2001.013067
  6. ^ The Ageing Skin - Structure
  7. ^ a b c d Romer, Alfred Sherwood; Parsons, Thomas S. (1977). The Vertebrate Body. Philadelphia, PA: Holt-Saunders International. pp. 129–145. ISBN 0-03-910284-X. 
  8. ^ http://www.cell.com/current-biology/retrieve/pii/S0960982203002963

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