The skin is the largest organ of the body. It isn’t frequently thought of as an organ, but it is. It is a single unit, a singular, coordinated sub-mechanism of a greater whole. How healthy or unhealthy our skin is; the rewards of our time spent on skin care and the toll taken by skin disease all show true and, whether we like it or not, can communicate a lot to the outside world.
There is no single function of skin. Skin functions include temperature regulation and providing a barrier against pathogens. Skin houses the pores that allow us to secrete water to evaporate and keep us cool, and simultaneously keeps our internal water supply from simply evaporating away. The evaporation it permits when necessary through the pores keeps us from overheating and stroking out in the summer, and the retention of warmth through the water it doesn’t let out in the winter time helps to keep us warm by making us harder to cool down. The function of skin as a barrier may not sound particularly impressive at first glance—a plastic bag can isolate and block germs. But skin is unique in that it can block pathogens and protect us from infection while still permitting oxygen, water and warmth to enter. Without skin, we wouldn’t even be able to hold water in our bodies. Without the skin, none of the other organs can function. Not the heart, not the lungs, not the liver, not the stomach, none of it. The full gamut of skin functions and their proper maintenance by keeping skin disorders and skin diseases at bay is critical to the health of the entire body.
That said, the sheer number of skin diseases that exist is staggering. A list of skin diseases is not something easy to compile, by any stretch. There are many lists of cutaneous conditions scattered around the web, but even those in print form frequently lack details and specifics. Skin disorders and symptoms come in an extensive catalog, and can range from so benign and innocuous they go unnoticed forever to so overt and disturbing they prevent one from living comfortably to so very dangerous that they become fatal. Because skin is so intimately connected to all the other systems in the body, skin disorders can severely affect the health of other organs. Skin problems are frequently thought of as something almost laughable, something that adolescents deal with, but the list of skin conditions goes well beyond the unfortunate pimple on a date or the mild dandruff played for laughs on a sit-com.
Skin conditions affect the whole body. Skin care is thus not an idle matter. While skin care is almost always thought of as cosmetic, and most of the products sold for the purpose of skin care are in the cosmetics section, the health of one’s skin is anything but merely cosmetic. It is a precious thing that should be appropriately maintained and actively, vigilantly defended by anyone concerned with their greater health. The list of products that may be dedicated to skin care is long, but rewarding to understand. The list of skin conditions is even longer, and even more important to know well. Skin can scar and be damaged, but proper understanding of what to do when it needs to be done can save inordinate amounts of time, trouble and grief.
Skin care more than just a quality one’s skin possesses—it is a daily practice. And practicing skin care first requires an understanding of skin itself; the functions of the skin, the full gamut of skin conditions and diseases and an understanding of the full range of options for treatment and active methods of care has a value that cannot be overestimated.