Stressor Spotlight: Skin
As the largest organ in the body, the skin is the primary component of the body’s integumentary system. The nails, hair, sweat glands, and sebaceous glands are considered accessory structures to the skin. Together, the skin and its associated structures play a number of crucial roles, including helping the body maintain homeostasis.
Structure & Function
The skin is made up of two layers: the epidermis and the dermis.
The epidermis is the outer layer of skin. It is composed of layers called strata, with the topmost layer being visible to the human eye. Named the stratum corneum, this top epidermal layer sheds continuously while being replaced by new stem cells from the deepest layer of strata. The deepest layer, the stratum basale, is where keratinocytes are formed and gradually distributed through the upper layers of skin. Skin cells called Merkel cells and melanocytes are also produced at this layer.
Between the corneum and basal layers, there are 2 or 3 more layers of strata depending on the thickness of the skin. These are the stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, and stratum lucidem. It takes approximately 4 to 6 weeks from the time keratinocytes are formed to the time they die in the corneum strata.1
One critical function of the epidermis is to protect the body from harmful substances such as bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. The melanocytes produced in the stratum basale produce melanin, which gives us our skin color and protects us from UV exposure. The epidermis also helps regulate immune response. This primarily occurs in the stratum spinousm, which is where cytokines are produced.
Along with keeping harmful things out, the epidermis also helps keep water and other nutrients in the body. Plus, it is also where vitamin D from the sun is synthesized. Additionally, the epidermis helps to protect body parts from injuries. Thicker skin is found in certain areas, such as the palms of our hands, to further protect the body from injury. Nails are considered part of the epidermis as well, and provide additional protection to the sensitive tips of our fingers and toes.
Below the epidermis lies another important layer of skin: the dermis. Primarily made up of connective tissue—which is in turn mostly made up of collagen—the dermis is further separated into papillary and reticular layers. Dermal papillae extend from the papillary layer into the epidermis. These papillary ridges can be seen at the tips of our fingers in the form of fingerprints. The dermis is also home to an array of other structures, namely sweat glands, sebaceous glands, hair follicles, blood vessels, and nerve endings.
The sweat glands and sebaceous glands of the epidermis have very different functions. Not surprisingly, the sweat glands produce sweat, which helps cool the body as a response to heat or stress. The sebaceous glands, on the other hand, release a sebum into hair follicles. This oily, yellow substance helps the skin stay hydrated and flexible.2
Hair follicles are found throughout the body, especially on the head, under the armpits, and around the genitals. Hair follicles produce hair which helps regulate body temperature. Likewise, blood vessels and nerve endings in the dermis assist in regulating body temperature as well. The nerve endings have an additional function of sensing pressure, temperature, and pain, while the blood vessels of the dermis also transport nutrients to the skin.3
What about the hypodermis?
The hypodermis is just below the dermis. Similar to the dermis, it is made up of elastic fibers and collagen. It also contains veins, arteries, and capillaries, and is mainly used by the body to store fat. Despite its similarities to the dermis, however, the hypodermis is actually not considered part of the skin.4
The skin and its accessory structures work with various other systems in our body to keep it functioning properly. This includes the immune system, digestive system, circulatory system, and nervous system.
In addition to these functional relationships, the skin shares energetic relationships with many parts of the body. Specifically, it is associated with the lung in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The lung TCM meridian helps circulate fluids throughout the body and defend the body against pathogens.5
The lung meridian is, in turn, energetically connected to the following:
- Large intestine meridian
- First and second molars on top teeth
- Third and fourth molars on bottom teeth
- Bottom 3 cervical vertebra
- Third thoracic vertebra
- First, second, and fourth lumbar vertebra
- Lung organ
Along with these connections to the lung meridian, the skin also has a close energetic relationship with the emotion of grief. So if you have experienced loss in your life and have trouble letting go, this could manifest as an imbalance in the skin. Similarly, an imbalance in the skin may be something that triggers the grief emotion.
Common skin disorders
Because it is constantly exposed to the outside environment, the skin is especially susceptible to injury and disorders. Along with typical injuries such as burns, wounds, and blisters, the following are the most common disorders and diseases of the skin.
According to Cleveland Clinic, as many as 15 million people suffer from eczema, a skin disorder characterized by bumpy, red, itchy, and inflamed skin.6 Though most common in children, many adults get eczema as well. Causes of eczema include:
- Allergens such as pollen, pet dander, and mold
- Changes in body temperature
- Irritants such as soaps, detergents, and disinfectants
- Foods such as dairy products and wheat
Acne is very common among teenagers, but a significant percentage of adults deal with it as well. One study found that more than 70% of participants had acne at some point, and just over 50% of participants aged 20 to 29 had acne.7
When the passageway from the sebaceous glands to the pores becomes clogged, acne develops in the form of whiteheads, blackheads, and in more severe cases, cysts. Hormones are the most important factor in acne, which is why it is so common in teenagers. Heredity may also play a role in this skin disorder.
A disorder caused by an overactive immune system, psoriasis is characterized by flaking, inflammation, and thick, scaly patches of skin. There are many different types of psoriasis which effect different parts of the body. The most common of these is plaque psoriasis, which can occur on any part of the body. Though mainly influenced by genetics, other factors that may trigger psoriasis include:
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Skin injury
Between 2 to 3 million people get skin cancer each year. More than 100,000 of these cases are melanoma,9 which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. A mole that changes size, color, feel, or that bleeds may be a sign of melanoma. Lesions that are painful and itchy, dark, or that have an irregular border and different colors could also be a sign of this disorder.
Risk factors of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers include excessive sun exposure, fair skin, moles, and a family history of skin cancer.
Other skin disorders
Other significant illnesses and disorders related to the skin include the following:
- Rosacea – Inflammation that causes redness and bumps on the face
- Vitiligo – An uncurable skin disorder that results in patches of milky white skin
- Warts – Small growths caused by a virus that can easily pass from person to person
- Herpes – Cold sores or genital herpes caused by the HSV1 and HSV2 viruses respectively
- Alopecia – Includes male- and female-pattern hair loss as well as other types of hair loss
Diet and supplements for healthy skin
Just like the other systems in our body, the health of the integumentary system is greatly impacted by what we eat. Specific foods that are known to benefit the skin, hair, and nails include green vegetables, orange root vegetables, fatty fish, and oats.
Water is critical for maintaining the health of the skin as well. You should drink at least 8 cups of pure water each day, but ideally more than that. Topical moisturizers can help hydrate your skin, but water intake is a much more important factor for keeping your skin hydrated.
You may not be getting all the nutrients you need for your skin through your diet alone. In this case, supplements can help you maintain the health of your skin, and may also help you fight certain skin disorders. In addition to these supplements for skin, here are a few other supplements and oils that may benefit your skin, hair, and nails.
- B Vitamins
- Coconut oil
Lifestyle choices for improved skin
Like diet and nutrition, the lifestyle choices we make greatly impact the health of our skin. That being said, smoking cigarettes is one of the biggest detriments to skin health. Smoking is problematic because it constricts blood vessels, which prevents your skin and its associated structures from getting the nutrients they need.10
Another important area to look at is our exposure to the sun, as skin cancer is a major contributor of premature deaths worldwide. Limiting sun exposure, wearing protective clothing, and using sunscreen can greatly reduce your risk of getting skin cancer. When choosing a sunscreen, however, make sure to avoid those that contain potentially harmful synthetic ingredients.
Along these same lines, you should make sure you are protecting your skin in other ways. For example, avoid using strong soaps or other cleaners that contain potentially harmful ingredients. Beauty products such as facial creams may also contain ingredients that harm your skin, such as ascorbic acid, parabens, and glycolic acid. Bathing or showering in hot water can be problematic as well, as it tends to deplete natural oils and dry out the skin.11
Last but not least, stress is a significant factor in the health of the skin. If you’ve ever had a rash when you were dealing with excessive stress, you know what we’re talking about. Some actions you can take to help you manage your stress load better include:
- Avoiding caffeine & alcohol
- Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night
- Exercising frequently
- Doing yoga, tai chi, or qigong
- Learning to say no when you’re overwhelmed
- Talking to someone about your stress
Skin stressor Virtual Item
The digital signature of the skin is scanned automatically in the ZYTO Balance biosurvey. This Virtual Item can also be scanned using the more advanced Select or Elite software. In the Select and Elite, you can also find other skin-related Virtual Items such as the EAV Skin Meridian and skin tissue sarcodes in the Channel B: Tissues – Integumentary System category. Available to our Elite customers, this category includes the following skin accessory structures.
- Hair roots
- Sweat glands
- Hair follicles
Skin balancer Virtual Items
After a stressor scan, the skin Virtual Item (along with other Virtual Items) may have an abnormal out-of-range response, or a normal in-range response. A scan of selected balancers may then determine which Virtual Items bring the out-of-range stressors back into range. Specifically, an item that brings the skin Virtual Item back into range may be a supplement, essential oil, lifestyle item, or wellness service.
As mentioned, emotional health can also affect the health of the skin. The emotion of grief has a close energetic relationship with the skin, and other forms of stress can also affect the skin’s appearance and function. This emotional component that affects the skin can be addressed with our perception reframing technology. Addressing the emotional together with the physical component of the skin provides a holistic solution, leading to better results.
1. Reina, Olwen. “Keratinocytes: Their Purpose, Their Subtypes and Their Lifecycle.” Tempo Bioscience. Tempobioscience.com.
2. “Sebaceous gland.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Brittanica.com.
3. Benedetti, Julia. “Structure and Function of the Skin.” Merck & Co., Inc. “Merckmanuals.com.
4. “Hypodermis.” Lumen. Courses.lumenlearning.com.
5. “Lung/Large Intestine Health.” Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation. Tcmworld.org.
6. “Eczema.” Cleveland Clinic. My.clevelandclinic.org.
7. Collier, C.N., J.C. Harper, et al. “The prevalence of acne in adults 20 years and older.” Journal of American Academy of Dermatology 58, no. 1 (2008): 56-59.
8. “Psoriasis.” Mayo Clinic. Mayoclinic.org.
9. “Skin cancers.” World Health Organization. Who.int.
10. “How Smoking Affects Skin Health.” HealthEngine. Healthengine.com.au.
11. “Is a Hot Shower Bad for Your Skin?” UPMC HealthBeat. Share.upmc.com.