The Fact About Skin

Skin Facts – Epidermal Layers

skin structure

Skin facts exist about the epidermal layers covering the human body. They comprise the largest part of the integumentary system. The epidermis has up to seven layers of tissue, ectodermal tissue, that protects nerves, bones, muscles and internal organs. Human epidermis is similar to other mammals, but is most similar to pigs. Although almost all humans are covered with hair, it can appear hairless.

There are two epidermal types in general, hairy and hairless.  The epidermal type plays an important role in the immune system, protecting the body from infections and excess water loss. Its other functions are insulation, temperature regulation, sensitivity, vitamin D synthesis, and protection of the B vitamin folate. A severely damaged epidermis (as in a burn) will attempt to heal through grafting. This is often colored and discolored.

In humans, epidermal color (melanin is affected) varies between populations, and types can range from dry to non-dry to oily to non-oily. Such type provides a rich and diverse habitat for bacteria that have about 1000 species in 19 phyla, found in humans.


The epidermis is the highest of the three layers, the innermost being the dermis and the hypodermis. The epidermal layer provides protection against infection from environmental pathogens and controls the amount of water lost from the body into the air through transepidermal water loss.
The epidermis is composed of many stratified cells that cover a layer (stratum basale) made up of individual cylindrical cells.  Stem cells develop from the stem cells of the basal layer. Human epidermis is a well-known example of epithelium, especially squamous epithelium.

The word epidermis comes from the Latin Greek epidermis, itself from the Ancient Greek epi ‘over, on’. The part or part of the epidermis is called epidermal.
Epidermis serves as a barrier to protect the body against microbial pathogens, oxidative stress (UV light) and chemical compounds, providing mechanical resistance to small amounts. Much of this barrier function is performed by the stratum corneum.

Immune System

Physical barrier: Epidermal keratinocytes are tightly connected by cell-cell junctions linked to cytoskeletal proteins, giving the epidermis its functional strength.
Chemical barriers: lipids, acids, hydrolytic enzymes and antimicrobial peptides prevent the passage of external chemicals and pathogens into the body. The immune system works in an unusual way: the humoral and cellular components of the immune system in the epidermis work hard to fight infection.
The water content of the stratum corneum falls to the surface, creating conditions that oppose the growth of pathogenic microorganisms. The acidic pH (about 5.0) and low water content make the epidermis resistant to many microorganic pathogens.  Non-pathogenic microbes on the surface of the epidermis help defend against pathogens by competing for nutrients, limiting its availability, and producing secretions that inhibit the growth of pathogenic microbiota.
Psychological stress, through an increase in glucocorticoids, damages the stratum corneum and therefore the immune system.
Sudden changes in high humidity change the hydration of the stratum corneum in a way that can allow the entry of pathogenic microorganisms.

Skin Hydration

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The body’s ability to retain water is primarily due to the stratum corneum and is essential for maintaining health. Corneometry is used to measure hydration. Lipids are organized in a gradient and in an organized manner between the cells of the stratum corneum forming a barrier to transepidermal water loss.

To start the discussion on oilyness, it is imperative to first understand the cause behind the oily condition. Put simply, oilyness is a result of excessive production of sebum (an oily substance that is naturally produced). As is known to everyone, excess of everything is bad; so excessive sebum is bad too. It leads to clogging of epidermal pores, resulting in accumulation of dead cells and hence formation of pimples/acne. Moreover, oilyness spoils your looks too. So,  recognizing this condition is as important as the overall care for other types of epidermal conditions

The basic aim of oilyness is for the removal of excessive sebum or oil. However, such procedures should not lead to complete removal of oil.  Oily preventive care starts with the use of a cleanser. However, not all cleansers will work.  You will need a cleanser which contains salicylic acid i.e. a beta-hydroxy acid that retards the rate of sebum production. Cleansing should be done twice a day (and even more often in hot and humid conditions).

Most of the oily care products are oil-free; however, it is always good to check the ingredients of the product, before you actually buy. This is especially important if a product is marked as ‘suitable for all types’.  Such oily removal product is also dependent on the degree of oiliness. If you aren’t too oily,  some of these ‘suitable for all’ – type products might work for you too. For extremely oily condition, only oily treatment products are suitable. Your oily care routine can include an alcohol based toner (for an extremely oily condition). This can be the second step in your oily prevention care routine i.e. just after cleansing. However, excessive toning can harm your epidermis. The facts about Oily skin care.

The next step in your oily care routine can be a mild moisturizer. Again, your degree of oiliness will determine whether you need to include this in your daily routine. If you do decide to include a moisturizer, be sure to use one that is oil-free, wax-free and lipid-free.  You could also use a clay mask (say once a week) as an oily prevention measure.

As far as the other preventative  care  products go, you might need to try out a few before you arrive at one that is really suitable for your condition.

In case these measures don’t give you the desired result, consult a good dermatologist for advice.  He could prescribe stronger oily preventative products like vitamin A creams, retinoids, sulphur creams etc , which can help counter other potential problems.

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