Our skin is a vital organ – the largest single organ in our body. Day after day, the skin protects us from external influences such as heat, cold, wind, pathogens and regulates the heat balance. The skin is also known as the mirror of our soul. Thus skin problems can literally make us feel uncomfortable and often have a negative impact on our overall well-being.
In order to better understand the function of the skin and prevent skin problems, it is important to know the structure of the skin.
The skin can be divided into 3 skin layers: Upper skin (epidermis); dermis (cornium); lower skin (subcutis).
The skin is made up of 70% water, releases moisture to its surroundings and then reabsorbs it. Two thirds of the water are stored in the dermis or corium and one third in the epidermis. Two factors are responsible for ensuring that the skin is able to store moisture and regulate its moisture level:
1. Natural moisturising factors: Natural moisturising factors include substances such as amino acids, lactate, salts, sugar and urea. These bind water in the corneocytes of the top layer of skin.
2. An intact protective barrier: The lipids of the skin’s protective barrier surround the corneocytes on the skin‘s surface like a protective film and thus additionally boost the skin’s water-binding capacity.
The skin’s protective barrier is the natural shield of our skin. The acid mantle (hydrolipid film) on the skin’s surface is essential for an intact barrier function. This
comprises endogenous components such as water, fat-splitting enzymes, corneocytes, sebum and sweat
and has a slightly acidic average pH of 5.5. The hydrolipid film regulates the skin’s water balance, prevents the loss of moisture and therefore protects the skin from external influences.
The skin’s healthy acid mantle is also the habitat of the skin microbiome. The skin microbiom is the totality of the microbes living on the skin. This variety of many different microorganisms (bacteria, viruses and fungi) are important for the skin´s health. When the microorganisms and thus the skin microbiom is in harmony, it protects the skin from pathogens or environmental influences and strengthens the immune system. The best environment for keep the skin microbiom in a good condition is a pH value of 5.5.
What happens when the skin’s protective barrier is weakened?
Both external influences such as cold, heat, sun and water as well as internal factors such as nutrition, age or hormonal fluctuations can lead to a weakened protective barrier. The skin becomes sensitive and skin problems such as irritation, redness, dryness or feelings of tension can arise.