Whenever a person experiences a pinching sensation on their hand, they immediately think it is the skin that is being hurt or damaged. It isn’t often that we consider what it is that lies just beneath the skin, or what science has defined as what the skin is. For those who are curious and eager to learn more about our skin, we have compiled some basic insights to give an overall view of it.
The skin goes by another name in science called the cutaneous membrane. This soft overlay of skin is what protects the organs underneath. This term is extracted from two words. The word ‘cutaneous’ means ‘of the skin’. The word ‘membrane’ refers to the thin layer which covers a space, cavity, or organ. Another name for this is integument membrane. It is a membrane that is part of the group referred to as stratified squamous epithelium.
We know the scientific name for skin is the cutaneous membrane, but our skin is so much more than the membrane that covers the body. Following are some facts regarding the cutaneous membrane.
While the outer part of our skin may look quite simple in nature, just below it are complex layers. These layers are what carries out those major function in our body. There are two main layers to the cutaneous membrane; the epidermis and the dermis.
Epidermis: The outer layer of our skin is called the epidermis. Keratinized stratified squamous epithelial cells are what makes up this layer. This layer has no blood cells. It contains 5 layers of tissue forming cells and 4 different types of cells. These four cells that the epidermis is made of are; Melanocytes, Merkel, Keratinocytes, and Langerhans. The cells that are found in abundance are the keratinocytes. These are the cells that go through keratinisation which is a process that deposits keratin in the epithelial cells. The production of melanin in our epidermis is covered by melanocytes. Our sensory neurons in the skin are the responsibility of merkel cells. And the cells that manage the immune reactions are the langerhans. Along with these cells are sub layers of the epidermis which include:
Dermis: Our dermis is what shields our bodies from daily stresses and strains. The dermis is the inner layer of our skin. A network membrane connects the dermis to the epidermis.
Functions of the Cutaneous Membrane
The main job of the cutaneous membrane is protection. It can do this in many ways, such as protecting us from physical injuries, protecting against the loss of moisture and water, and guarding against other microorganisms. A vital part of the cutaneous membrane’s job is to prevent the growth of microorganisms and balance our pH. Maintaining the body’s immunity is another duty of this membrane via the langerhan cells found in the epidermis.
Ridding our body of waste materials through sweat is yet another important function, along with riding the skin of any dead cells. Balancing and maintaining our body’s temperature also falls under the care of the cutaneous membrane.
Another necessary function relates to sensation that the skin feels. Sensations of pressure and touch are achieved through certain cells found in the dermis.
Our skin is also responsible for absorbing the much needed elements of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen, etc. It controls the synthesis of Vitamin D.
Our skin prevents the loss of fluids in our body and can store water as well. 10% of our body’s blood vessels are found in the skin but only 2% of this is used for the skin to function.