The skin tends to not be thought of as a vital organ in the way that, say, the heart is. But from providing protection for our internal organs, being a barrier against infection, and regulating our temperature, to the anatomical and emotional significance of our sense of touch, and the skin’s ability to expand and contract as we do throughout our lives, the importance of of the skin’s role in our overall health cannot be treated lightly.
The skin is our largest organ and it is also arguably the most immediate, most visible monitoring system we have for the state of our internal systems.
Way before internal organs manifest disorders in a blood test, ultrasound, x-ray, or MRI, dermatologists can recognize signs on the skin that may point to an internal problem. For instance, before blood sugar values are elevated, diabetes may show tiny distinctive scarred patches on the leg or small areas of numbness; a slow thyroid gland can be indicated by a form of skin thickening in various parts of the body; tiny red spots can signal inflammation of blood vessels both in the skin and in the body’s internal organs. Quite often, the skin serves as a direct indicator about what is happening inside us.
For children, who absorb anything applied faster on the skin than adults do, the skin is an important part of their developing immune system.
Skin diseases can be disfiguring but some can also be extremely uncomfortable (such as extreme dryness leading to incessant itching), and even life-threatening (pemphigus vulgaris, infections brought about by microorganisms that enter cracks in very dry skin, etc.). And make no mistake: skin cancer is common, on the rise, and deadly.
Far beyond how good it can make you look, your skin is a vital organ.
For more on the importance of your skin in terms of stress, aging and other comorbidities, click here.