By Dr. Stacy Matthews Branch
What do you imagine when thinking of the body’s largest organ? Some may think of the liver or the intestines, but the skin in its entirety is the largest organ of the body. Although the intestinal tract is quite long on average, an average adult’s skin has an area of over 20 square feet. People tend to be concerned about the way the skin looks, and not so much on what it does. One of the important functions of the skin is that it provides nutrients to the body and acts as a protective barrier against harms that exist in our environment. Here is a list of examples of what the skin does for us:
Any of the important functions of the skin can be at risk when a defect occurs in the skin whether from a trauma (abrasions, cuts, burns) or disease (eczema, infection, cancer). The skin has an amazing healing mechanism, that can alone help to recover from some traumas or disease states; however, it often needs help to get back to as close to its optimal state as possible. The skin heals in organized stages mainly consisting of hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation, and maturation.
The skin healing process is not a simple rigid process, but may toggle to and from different steps depending on the wound or defect present in the skin. Hemostasis is the initial means the skin closes a defect. Although inflammation can cause discomfort or go awry, it is an important step in the healing process. This step helps to control bleeding and remove damaged cells and disease-causing agents. Skin resurfacing and rebuilding of tissue occurs during the proliferative phase, and the final remodeling of skin tissue takes place during the maturation phase. Careful care of compromised skin is essential to promote the skin’s natural healing process, prevent further damage, and return the functionality of the skin.
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