Even if its readily visible, most of us are unaware about the importance of the biggest part of our body. The skin, unknown to most people, is as much a human organ as the heart, liver, and stomach. It is a very important element in the human body. It covers and protects everything inside the body. Skin holds everything together, helps keep our bodies just at the right temperature and allows us to have the sense of touch. Without skin, people’s muscles, bones, and organs would be hanging out all over the place.
The skin is made up of three layers, each with its own important parts. The layer on the outside is called the epidermis. The epidermis is the part of the skin which we can see. The next layer down is the dermis. It is the one hidden in the epidermis. The dermis contains nerve endings, blood vessels, oil glands, and sweat glands. It also contains collagen and elastin, which are tough and stretchy. The third and bottom layer of the skin is called the subcutaneous layer. It is made mostly of fat and helps the body stay warm and absorb shocks or trauma. The subcutaneous layer also helps hold the skin to all the tissues underneath it.
The skin is the body’s first barrier against bacterial infections. Even though many bacteria live on the surface of our skin, healthy skin can usually protect us from infection. However, bacterial skin infections can affect a small spot or may spread, affecting a large area. They can range from a treatable infection to a life-threatening skin condition.
The skin normally has many types of bacteria on it, but intact skin is an effective barrier that keeps bacteria from entering and growing within the body. When there is a break in the skin, bacteria can enter the body and grow there, causing inflammation and infection. Anyone who has a break in the skin is at risk for infection. But there are certain conditions or diseases that can put a person at greater risk for infection. People with diabetes are prone to skin infection because poor blood flow to the skin prevents fast skin regeneration or skin cellular repair. People with AIDS are also prone to skin problems due to their depressed immune system, a condition that makes them less capanble of fighting infection. It also reduces their capability to repair skin damaged by sunburn or scratching.
One type of skin infection that is very common especially among children is Impetigo. Impetigo is a common skin infection particularly in children in unhealthy living conditions. In adults, it may follow other skin disorders. Impetigo may follow a recent upper respiratory infection such as a cold or other viral infection. It is similar to cellulitis, but is more superficial, involving infection of the top layers of the skin with streptococcus (strep), staphylococcus (staph), or both.
Impetigo may affect skin anywhere on the body but it commonly occurs around the nose and mouth, hands, and forearms. When impetigo is caused by Group A streptococcus, it begins as tiny blisters. These blisters eventually burst and leave small wet patches of red skin that may weep fluid. Gradually, a tan or yellowish-brown crust covers the affected area, making it look like it has been coated with honey or brown sugar. Impetigo that is caused by staphylococcus aureus triggers larger fluid-containing blisters that appear clear, then cloudy. These blisters are more likely to stay intact longer on the skin without bursting. Impetigo may itch and can be spread by scratching. Children can spread the infection by scratching it and then touching other parts of the body.
Treatment for impetigo may include a prescription of an antibacterial cream. The goal is to cure the infection and relieve the symptoms. The more severe cases of impetigo requires antibiotics taken by mouth. It is also better to wash the skin several times a day, preferably with an antibacterial soap, to remove crusts and drainage. To prevent the spread of infection if one has an impetigo, always use a clean washcloth and towel each time. It is advised not to share towels, clothing, razors with other family members. Always wash the hands thoroughly after touching skin lesions, minor cuts, and scrapes. Overall, good general health and hygiene would help prevent infection and the spread of skin disease.