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Causes and Consequences of Damage to the Skin

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  • 0:08 Damage to the Skin
  • 0:40 The Importance of the Skin
  • 1:33 Ways the Skin Can be Damaged
  • 2:09 How Inflammation Plays a Role
  • 2:53 Why This Damage Is Bad…
  • 4:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will discuss the importance and roles of the human skin. We will also go into how it may be damaged and why this damage is no laughing matter. Find out as we explore skin flora, opportunistic pathogens, and decubitus ulcers.

Damage to the Skin

Some of the most common things I see during commercials are advertisements for beauty products, especially the skin - everything from anti-wrinkle creams to moisturizers to shake-and-bake products. There's good reason for it, too. Your skin is a very important part of your immune system, the thing that keeps you healthy.

If you had no skin, you'd die within a few hours at best. But there are many things that can damage your skin, and we'll cover some of them in this lesson, as well as why and how that damage may impact the rest of your body, not just your smooth and silky skin.

The Importance of the Skin

The skin itself is a giant organ responsible for many roles. It's made up of many different layers and many different cells. I know that you can think of the things it's useful for:

  • It keeps your body protected from bacteria trying to enter it. It's like a Kevlar vest protecting you from bullets in that sense.
  • It can produce a nice tan to protect you from harmful sources of light. Basically, it serves as an umbrella on a really sunny beach.
  • It helps to regulate your body's temperature. It's like a fur coat and A/C all rolled into one!
  • It helps you sense environmental stimuli, such as pressure and pain. It's like a warning signal that tells you to get your hands off of the hot stove before your entire arm fries.

And that's just the half of it! That's why, by extension, maintaining healthy skin is critical to maintaining a healthy body inside and out.

Ways the Skin Can Be Damaged

But your skin isn't something out of a Terminator movie. It's not a piece of metal or machinery. It's much more fragile than that and cannot be fixed overnight by a mechanic as a robot may be. Therefore, it's important to prevent your skin from being damaged by all sorts of things, including physical trauma due to a bite, cut, or scratch; U.V. radiation that can cause burns and cancer; nasty chemicals; or putting too much pressure on the skin for a prolonged period of time, such as per a decubitus ulcer, also known as a pressure sore; and so on down the line.

How Inflammation Plays a Role

Any one of the things I just went over can cause inflammation of your skin. It's the red, itchy, swollen reactions you get when your skin is damaged. What's worse, you can also get these reactions from things like allergens from the air or the soap you use on your skin.

The inflammation that is triggered is usually there for your own good. It helps to fight off infection, for starters. However, prolonged, allergen-based, or serious inflammation can actually damage your skin even more. Inflammation can, in so many words, eat away at your skin, cause it to break open, and predispose your skin to infections directly or by causing you to scratch at your skin, breaking it apart, and thereby, allowing entry of microbes in that way.

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