Skin and Hair

Your skin is your largest organ. It covers your body tissues and internal organs and protects them from injury and infection. Skin is made up of two layers: a thin outer layer called the epidermis and a thicker inner layer called the dermis. Under the dermis is a layer of fat called subcutaneous tissue. The outer part of the epidermis is made up of dead cells and keratin (a tough, fibrous type of protein), which form a protective covering. These dead cells are constantly shed and then replaced by new cells. The inner part of the epidermis is made up of living cells that divide rapidly to produce those new cells. Certain cells in the epidermis produce the pigment known as melanin, which protects your skin and determines your skin color.

Hair shaft

Hair root

Epidermis

Dermis

Skin

Hair shaft

Hair root

Epidermis

Dermis

Sebaceous gland

Nerve endings Hair bulb

Sweat gland

Cutaneous nerve

Blood vessels

Sebaceous gland

Nerve endings Hair bulb

Subcutaneous tissue

Sweat gland

Cutaneous nerve

Blood vessels

Common

Health

Concerns

The dermis is made up of connective tissue and contains structures such as hair follicles, sweat glands, sebaceous glands (which produce an oily substance called sebum), blood vessels, lymph vessels (which carry lymph into and out of the lymph glands), and nerves. Your skin also has some other important roles, including sensation—such as touch, temperature, and pain—and regulation of body temperature through perspiration and dilation (widening) and constriction (narrowing) of blood vessels.

Your hair is an extension of your skin. Hair is made up of dead cells and keratin. Each hair shaft has a spongy core (medulla), a surrounding layer of thin fibers (cortex), and a thin covering of overlapping cells (cuticle). Each hair is rooted in a hair follicle (a tiny pit in the surface of the skin), from which it grows. While a hair is growing, the hair root is surrounded by live tissue called a bulb, which supplies keratin to the hair. Certain cells at the base of the hair follicle produce melanin, which determines your hair color. The main function of hair is protection.

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