Skin as a Regulator of Body Temperature

Our skin plays an important role in maintaining a normal core body temperature.

When the body overheats, fewer nerve impulses are sent to the blood vessels in the skin. This causes them to dilate, increasing the flow of warmth to the skin where it is cooled, promoting heat loss. Sweat glands are also activated, excreting waste in the form of a salt-rich substance that evaporates off the skin’s surface, accounting for up to 90% of the body’s cooling.

Conversely, a similar process exists to warm the body up—fat cells in the skin act as insulation against cold temperatures. When the body becomes too cold, more nerve impulses are sent to the blood vessels in the skin, causing the vessels to narrow. This restricts blood flow to the skin and reduces heat loss. Numerous temperature sensors in the skin also stimulate the skeletal muscles, causing brief muscular contractions, known as shivering, that generate heat.

The skin also possesses remarkable self-healing properties, especially when only the epidermis is damaged. When the injury occurs to an area of the body with a rich blood supply, even the dermis may be completely healed. In addition, the process of scar formation heals deeper wounds that penetrate the underlying tissue. Scar tissue, however, lacks the infection-resisting and metabolic functions of normal, healthy skin. Because of this extensive skin loss why widespread burns or wounds may even lead to death.

Skin is actually an organ, and it is indeed, the largest organ in the body. Skin serves a very important set of functions in the body. It regulates body temperature, maintains water and electrolyte balance, and senses painful and pleasant stimuli. The skin keeps vital chemicals and nutrients in, while providing a block against dangerous substances trying to access the body and it also ensures a shield from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun.
The skin is the body’s largest organ, measuring about one eighth of an inch thick, and comprising roughly 10% of our total bodyweight. Skin consists of two layers: a protective outer layer, just 1/250th of an inch thick, known as the epidermis, and a slightly thicker inner layer, called the dermis.
While collagen is a key factor in maintaining healthy, beautiful skin, there is another protein in our skin that is equally important for the health and appearance of our skin: elastin. Elastin is a protein found in the skin and connective tissue throughout our bodies.
The main skin matrix fillers are glycans (a type of glucose based polymers that include glycosoaminoglycans and proteoglyans). In so far as skin rejuvenation goes the key glycan is hyaluronic acid (otherwise known as hyaluronan, hyaluronate or HA).