The dermis is the middle layer of skin and it has many functions. One of its main jobs is making sweat. There are tiny sweat glands dispersed throughout the dermis that make sweat that will then travel to the surface of your skin, using pores as little tubes to travel with. Another type of gland in the dermis is an oil gland. The oil on your skin also comes from your pores, and it helps to keep your skin soft and waterproof. If you aren’t producing enough oils, your skin would dry out and crack, leaving you exposed to outside germs.
Many blood vessels begin in the dermis. They carry blood to your skin to keep it nice and healthy! If you get a scrape or cut deep enough, it will most likely bleed. But your skin isn’t the only thing protecting you, as blood can form a clot around the wound to keep the rest of your blood inside and keep the germs outside. There aren’t any blood vessels in the the epidermis; if you get a bruise, one of your blood vessels was damaged and you’re bleeding a little bit under the first layer of skin.
Other prominent components of the dermis are hair and nerve endings. Humans have nerves all throughout their bodies that help with the sense of touch. Nerves are most sensitive at the nerve endings, which happen to be located in the middle layer of skin. It’s because of the nerve endings there that you are able to feel if something is hot or cold, and rough or soft. You also have little hairs on your skin, all over your body. The dermis is where you’d find the roots of your hair. The hairs grow out of tiny pockets in the dermis, called hair follicles, and is connected to a miniscule muscle that can give you goosebumps when they tighten. Have you ever noticed that bigger scars don’t grow hair? That’s because when the dermis is damaged, so are your hair follicles, so they will no longer allow hair to grow.
Why is Moisturizing Important?
As mentioned earlier, blood vessels don’t go up to the epidermis, so moisture for your skin has to travel up and out of your skin to evaporate. When that moisture evaporates, it dries out the skin cells in the top layer, leaving them cracked and flaky. Moisturizers can either trap moisture in your skin or replace the moisture that was already lost.
It’s especially important for babies to be moisturized because their skin is much thinner and they have a weaker immune system than adults. It’s also easily irritated and tends to get dry easily. This makes babies uncomfortable, and since they can’t vocalize what they need, they should be moisturized everyday to prevent some skin problems.
Emollients come in the form of ointments, creams, and lotions. These are the type of moisturizers that actually penetrate the skin to keep it soft. They’re composed of the same water-repelling carbon chains as occlusives, but more chemicals are added to make emollients able to sink into skin. This allows them to fill in the spaces between skin cells that have been created when skin gets too dry.
For our activity this week, we recommend you try making your own moisturizer! There are lot’s of great recipes out there, but here's one we recommend. It falls into the occlusives category, so it is a little greasy; we recommend using it at night!
Hoffman, Matthew. "The Skin (Human Anatomy)". WebMD. 16 November, 2014. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/picture-of-the-skin#1. Accessed 16 March, 2017.
Gray, Henry. “The distribution of the bloodvessels in the skin of the sole of the foot”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 3/16/17 from wikimedia.org.
Sagdejev, Ildar. “Goose Bumps”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 3/16/17 from wikimedia.org.
Daigle, Michelle. “Holding Hands”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 3/16/17 from publicdomainpictures.net
Prebreza, Linda. “Applying Lotion”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 3/16/17 from pexels.com