Skin is the second largest organ in the human body, and the first barrier that separates our organism from the outer world. It is part of the integumentary system and has various functions: it regulates body heat, it prevents water to escape, it protects the body from sun, traumas and pathogens, and finally skin is the organ that allows us to have the sense of touch.
Skin is the first line of defence of our body but it is also what allows humans to feel the environment in which they live. This is why it has to be cared for with gentleness and consistency, otherwise it can lead to skin cancer or anti aesthetic defects such as scars. Learn what is skin and how to protect it.
What is skin
Skin is an organ that can reach an extension of 2 square metres in adult people. It is the primary organ of the integumentary system and is composed of three main layers: epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue. Skin has two important characteristics that help it in its purpose. The first one is reparability: after traumas or injury, the human body can repair the broken skin by forming a scar. The second one is extensibility, which allows skin to grow with the body and to adapt to the changes everyone goes through in life.
But skin is a treasure to safeguard too, as to prevent damage that can lead to severe diseases. For example, melanomas are natural cells that make up the skin, called melanocytes, that get out of control and develop tumour cells. UV rays from the sun are known to cause skin cancer if not using a protective sun screen.
«When I was 22 years od, I noticed a bump, a little pink mole on my right gluteus» Anna Maisetti says, the founder of the Stile Compresso community. «I scheduled the operation with the NHS with no haste. 1 year later, when the time for surgery came, it was too late». That mole was a melanoma that spread to lymph nodes. After a difficult surgical procedures, doctors were able to remove the tumour, but Maisetti later developed lymphoedema due to that surgery.
Skin and scars
Skin’s ability to self-repair is extraordinary, and is able to stitch even the worst cuts. However scars are inevitable, especially for deep wounds. «Scars are a repair tissue» Marco Tresoldi, plastic surgeon and researcher at the University of Pavia, explains. «Usually a scar will form in 7-10 days – Tresoldi explains – and the full cycle that leads to healing requires around 1 year».
Scars need to be protected in order to avoid anti aesthetic defects on skin. To treat scars two kinds of products can be used: silicon and elastic compression. «Both help reduce inflammation – the professor explains – bringing it to a physiological dimension that makes the scar appear white and flat». «Elastic compression, on the other hand, is best used in places that were subjected to trauma, to avoid the scar growing upwards».
Sometimes scars can compromise people’s self-esteem, especially when they target delicate body parts such as breasts. This is the reason there are innovative practices such as medical tattoos, that aim to restore and rebuild skin. To do that there is the need to have a thorough knowledge of the epidermis, of its colours and characteristics. «Creating a permanent medical tattoo can solve aesthetic or medical problems» Andrea Becchi, tattooist and owner of the Tattoo Cluster Studio, explains. «However, one must know well the body’s geometry and the pigmentation and skin tones that feel natural for the skin».