Our Skin


The skin is the outer covering of living tissue of an animal (or plant). It is the largest organ of the integumentary system made up of multiple layers of epithelial tissues, and guards the underlying muscles, bones, ligaments, internal organs. The adjective cutaneous literally means "of the skin" (from Latin cutis, skin).

Because it interfaces with the environment, skin plays a very important role in protecting (the body) against pathogens. Its other functions are insulation, temperature regulation, sensation, synthesis of vitamin D, and the protection of vitamin B folates. Severely damaged skin will try to heal by forming scar tissue. This is often discolored and depigmented.

In humans, skin pigmentation varies among populations, and skin type can range from dry to oily.

Skin has pigmentation, or melanin, provided by melanocytes, which absorb some of the potentially dangerous ultraviolet radiation (UV) in sunlight. It also contains DNA-repair enzymes that help reverse UV damage, and people who lack the genes for these enzymes suffer high rates of skin cancer. One form predominantly produced by UV light, malignant melanoma, is particularly invasive, causing it to spread quickly, and can often be deadly. Human skin pigmentation varies among populations in a striking manner. This has led to the classification of people(s) on the basis of skin color.

Mammalian skin often contains hairs, which in sufficient density is called fur. The hair mainly serves to augment the insulation the skin provides, but can also serve as a secondary sexual characteristic or as camouflage. On some animals, the skin is very hard and thick, and can be processed to create leather. Reptiles and fish have hard protective scales on their skin for protection, and birds have hard feathers, all made of tough β-keratins. Amphibian skin is not a strong barrier to passage of chemicals and is often subject to osmosis. A frog sitting in an anesthetic solution could quickly go to sleep.

The skin is often known as the largest organ of the human body. This applies to exterior surface, as it covers the body, appearing to have the largest surface area of all the organs. For the average adult human, the skin has a surface area of between 1.5-2.0 square meters (16.1-21.5 sq ft.), most of it is between 2-3 mm (0.10 inch) thick. The average square inch (6.5 cm²) of skin holds 650 sweat glands, 20 blood vessels, 60,000 melanocytes, and more than a thousand nerve endings.

What causes the skin condition (skin-cancer) below?

Click on any picture to find out how to prevent it!