One of the important functions of the skin is to protect the body against infection. The skin is the first line of defense against infection. Infection happens when harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi enter the body and replicate. The skin protects against infections through the following mechanisms:
- It acts like a covering and a barrier that prevent the entrance of harmful organisms.
- The continuous shedding of the outermost cells of the skin leading to the shedding of these organisms with them. Some bacteria live on our skin but can’t enter the skin as long as it is healthy. An adult sheds more than 40,000 skin cells a minute.
- The skin has the ability to secrete compounds that kill or prevent the growth of the harmful organisms. Sweat and oil produced in the dermis combine to form a protective barrier on the surface of the skin, it is called the acid mantle, and it is useful in providing a protective barrier against temperature and wind. The acidity of the acid mantle inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi that may be present on the surface of the skin and neutralizes foreign chemicals before they can damage the skin
There are certain things that can be done to decrease the risk of or prevent infection like keeping the hands clean by washing them regularly, avoid sharing personal things with others such as towels and razors, taking care of cuts, wounds and scratches by keeping them clean and protected. If the skin around the wound becomes red, warm, swollen, increasingly painful, begins to drain a yellow or greenish fluid, have an odor, reopen of a closed wound, feel feverish; a wound infection may be present and medical care should be sought.
The skin has an amazing ability to heal wounds, the rate of healing varies depending on the severity of the wound, for superficial wounds they may be repaired rapidly by simple migration of skin cells over the defect, for deeper wounds it involves more complicated processes which are blood coagulation, inflammation, re-epithelialization, wound contraction and new tissue synthesis and remodeling.
It’s important to take care of our skin and keep it healthy; if it starts getting dry or cracking we should apply moisturizers to keep it soft, also eating a well balanced diet helps insure that the body gets all the vitamins needed to maintain a healthy skin.
This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.