Skincare

Why the Skin Barrier is Important and How to Strengthen It

The skin consists of three layers, a thin outer layer called the epidermis, a thicker middle layer called the dermis, and the inner layer called subcutaneous tissue or the hypodermis. These layers serve essential functions within the skin and create a glove-like covering of your internal organs and blood vessels. Protecting that barrier through proper skin care is very important.

Did you know that your body’s largest organ is your skin? Yes, it’s true! It may not look like other organs, such as your heart or liver, but this organ does so much to keep you alive.

Why does the Skin Barrier Matter?

The skin consists of three layers, a thin outer layer called the epidermis, a thicker middle layer called the dermis, and the inner layer called subcutaneous tissue or the hypodermis. These layers serve essential functions within the skin and create a glove-like covering of your internal organs and blood vessels. Protecting that barrier through proper skin care is very important.

One of the most important uses of the skin is its barrier effect. In simple terms, if you go swimming in a lake, the dirty lake water doesn’t flow into your bloodstream — as long as the skin barrier is working. Now that is a simple illustration, but let’s look at some additional reasons why the skin barrier is important.

Infection Prevention

Germs are everywhere. Cold and flu season encourages people to wash their hands more frequently and cover their coughs and sneezes. You may wonder if you have to wash your hands, then what does the skin do?

The skin’s barrier prevents most bacteria, pathogens, and viruses from entering your bloodstream, but only if you do not have a damaged skin barrier. You need to wash your hands because the mouth and eyes do not have the protective skin covering, and this is where most germs come through. Someone who has a chronic breakdown in the skin is at risk for getting several types of infections and should consider getting an online medical consultation to diagnose and the area of skin damage.

UV Protection

Imagine a world where if you went outside, then you would get immediately burned by the sun. This is what would happen if you did not have a skin barrier to protect your skin from the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

However, just because you have skin does not mean that you should ignore sun protection. It is crucial to protect your skin with sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher, protective clothing, and avoiding tanning beds. If you do not take precautions to protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation, you can damage your skin permanently and increase your risk of skin cancer.

Temperature Regulation

Thermoregulation (temperature regulation) is one of the busiest jobs for the skin. It uses a combination of the subcutaneous layer, made up of fats, to insulate the body and the sweat glands to regulate the body’s temperature.

The rich blood supply that supplies the skin can be constricted to allow more heat to be conserved to keep the body warm in the winter. Conversely, in the summer months, the sweat glands release sweat, which cools the body off when the air hits it.

Waterproofing

The skin is semi-permeable, meaning that some things can cross the barrier of the skin and enter the bloodstream. Some medications are administered this way, such as topical antibiotics and certain pain medications.

Water doesn’t typically cross the skin barrier; the multiple layers create a waterproofing effect for our body. This helps protect our body when swimming in the ocean or taking a shower.

How to Strengthen Your Skin

Your skin may sound strong, and it is, but the activities of normal life can weaken your skin. Therefore, it is important to know how to thicken your skin in a healthy way.

Healthy Diet

“You are what you eat” is an old saying, but it is still true today. Some foods that may help promote healthy skin include:

  • Fatty fish (salmon and mackerel)
  • Avocados
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Leafy green vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach)
  • Tomatoes
  • Dark chocolate

These foods are rich in important nutrients that can help to repair and protect the skin, and including at least some of them in your diet may promote your overall skin health.

Hydration

Drinking plenty of water is great for skin protection and helps keep your body healthy. Toxins and waste products can build up in your body, but drinking water helps to remove these by improving the function of your body’s natural filters, the kidneys. One study found that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated since they drink more caffeine-based drinks instead of water.

Hydrated skin is more elastic and supple, making it stronger and less susceptible to damage. To avoid dehydration, it is important to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Avoiding drinks that can dehydrate you, such as sodas, coffee, and alcohol, will also help you to stay hydrated. Be sure to drink more if you are exercising or in a warm environment where you are likely to sweat more.

Decrease Stress

Like germs, stress is all around. It can mess with your mind and your emotions — and yes, even your skin. Stress can cause a chemical response in your body that makes the skin more sensitive and reactive to injuries or damage. Stress can also make it more difficult for your skin to heal when it becomes damaged.

A great way to decrease stress in your life is through mindful meditation. Mindfulness is trendy now, but it is nothing more than focusing on being fully present in the moment. When you are centered on the present, it can increase your focus and decrease the stress in your body.

Decrease Sun Exposure

The best way to avoid sun-damaged skin is to decrease the amount of sun exposure every day. This may mean avoiding being outside during the most dangerous times of the day (10 am - 3 pm), covering up at the beach, wearing a hat and sunglasses, and wearing and reapplying sunscreen SPF 30 or greater.

Proper Skin Care

There are commercials everywhere promising the best skincare products. It is hard to know how to choose based on your budget, skin type, and individual needs. One of the best ways to know what to do is an online skin doctor consultation. Instead of waiting several weeks for an expensive dermatologist office visit, you can quickly schedule an online consultation at your convenience.

If you have questions about your skin, then you should consider seeking the help of a medical professional. The telehealth technology used by Alpha Medical provides instant access to physicians online who can perform an online medical consultation directly from the comfort of your home and prescribe medications that can be shipped directly to your door. Set up a membership with us to start your treatment today.

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