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Role of Healthy Skin in Preventing Infection

Skin is the largest human organ, covering the entire body. It is the organ that comes in contact with the rest of the world. It holds about 20% of the body’s water. The water contains lipids and proteins which help in hydrating the body and also keep the skin moisturized. It performs many vital functions such as protecting the body from the rays of the sun, helps in regulating body temperature, protects the body from infections etc. Therefore, it is very important to take proper care of your skin and to keep it healthy. Healthy skin prevents the entry of infections and also protects the bones, muscles and internal organs.

Healthy skin acts as a defence, a physical barrier between the body and the germs and dirt present in the external environment. Each cell in the epidermis, called a keratinocyte, is tightly connected to the adjacent cells to prevent the entry of bacteria into the skin. As long as your skin is intact and healthy, bacteria and viruses cannot penetrate the barrier.

The skin contains Langerhans cells which are a very important part of the immune system. If the Langerhans cells sense the invasion of any harmful bacteria in the body, they release a chemical signal that attracts white blood cells to that area of the body, to fight against the infection and eliminate the offender from the body. The skin turns red when the Langerhan cells are secreted to fight the disease and the blood circulation to the area is increased to nourish the injured tissues.

The skin is vital in keeping the body at its optimum temperature of 37°C, and protects it from the extremes of heat and cold. When the body is hot, blood vessels dilate below the skin and the body perspires to lower the body temperature. In the same way, when the body experiences cold, blood vessels under the skin constrict to reduce blood flow to maintain the core temperature by reducing heat loss. All these functions of the skin are carried out only when the skin is healthy.