Skin Education

The Functions of Human Skin

The skin is the largest organ of the body. This elastic, protective covering is thinnest on the lips and eyelids and thickest on the palms and soles. Following are the six primary functions of the skin:

Heat regulation – the skin regulates body temperature by sweating, which is the production of moisture by the sweat glands (suderiforous glands). The evaporation of this moisture enables the body to cool itself.

Absorption – the epidermis layer of the skin contains an acid mantle layer which limits the amount of substances entering though the skin that affect the body to a minor degree.

Secretion – the sebaceous glands excrete oil to lubricate and maintain the health of the skin.

Protection – fat cells provide insulation and protection against trauma to the internal organs. The skin also protects itself from the harmful effects of light and acts as a barrier against the invasion of bacteria.

Excretion – perspiration is the process by which the sweat glands excrete waste materials.

Sensation – nerve endings in the skin allow us to feel heat, cold, touch, pleasure, pressure and pain.

Skin Conditions

Acne – Acne is the most common skin condition in humans, affecting nearly 45 million Americans each year. Acne develops where there are more oil glands present, e.g. face, scalp, chest, back and neck. There are many different types of acne and each patient should be treated according to their particular case.

Aging – Aging of the skin is a result of many different factors that can be broken into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic or uncontrollable aging is chronological and genetic. Facial wrinkling, expression lines and drier, more sensitive skin may be a result of intrinsic aging. The extrinsic or more controllable factors of aging refer to exposure to the sun and/or pollutants which cause a breakdown of the skin’s structure, leading to discoloration, wrinkles, skin growths and even cancer. Many skin scientists believe the extrinsic factors are to blame for 90% of the visible signs of aging. When attempting to correct signs of aging, it is important to use products that not only treat, but also prevent future damage from occurring.

Hyperpigmentation (skin discoloration) – Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of an area of skin. Causes of hyperpigmentation range from sun damage caused by UV exposure, hormone fluctuations due to pregnancy or menopause, and skin injuries such as acne scarring. Certain skin types can also be more susceptible to hyperpigmentation. It is important to consult with a skin care professional prior to using products to even skin discoloration as high percentages of strong ingredients can cause further irritation and lead to more discoloration.

Rosacea – Rosacea is a somewhat misunderstood skin condition. Currently, there is no known cure or cause. Rosacea is generally characterized by persistent redness and/or breakouts on the central areas of the face, commonly affecting the nose, cheeks, forehead and chin. Although there is no cure, there are many different methods of controlling rosacea symptoms. There are medical therapies that work well in conjunction with cosmeceuticals and professional treatments to control rosacea symptoms. Consult a physician for a diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Myths and Misconceptions

Myth: Chemical peels & homecare products can be used to lighten freckles

Truth: Freckles that have been present since early childhood are part of your genetic make-up. Most people who have a naturally freckled complexion may try to even the overall tone with frequent UV exposure and tanning. This can lead to additional sun induced freckling and skin discoloration. While chemical peels and cosmeceutical products will correct the freckling from sun damage, freckles that are part of your hereditary background will always resurface.


Myth: Acne is only a problem during adolescence.

Truth: Acne is becoming a more common skin challenge in adults. Adult acne affects more women than men and is often caused by hormone fluctuations and/or stress. Adult acne most commonly affects the lower areas of the face while adolescent acne is more widespread. As skin ages, oil production slows making it critical to choose products to address adult acne that are not too drying. Acne affects each of us differently as we age and should be treated accordingly.


Myth: The light and dark spots that are sometimes present after excessive sun exposure are treatable

Truth: The white areas are called hypopigmentation and, as of now there is no known method to permanently correct this condition. Typically hypopigmentation is accompanied by hyperpigmentation or dark spots that can be treated. Evening the surrounding dark spots will often lessen the appearance of the lighter areas.


Myth: Oily or breakout-prone skin requires multiple cleansings throughout the day and does not need any moisturizer.

Truth: Cleansing the skin more than the recommended twice daily and/or using harsh soaps can actually cause the skin to produce more oil. The skin is programmed to keep itself balanced so when the beneficial natural oils are stripped, its response is to create more oil to compensate. Patients with oilier skin should cleanse with a non-soap cleanser twice a day followed with an antibacterial matte finish hydrator both day and night. The application of the correct moisturizer will also help to regulate the amount of oil produced throughout the day.

Sunscreen Informaiton

Two types of Sun Protection:

There are two types of sun protection available: chemical and physical sunscreens. A chemical sunscreen works by absorbing, reflecting or scattering the sun’s rays (UV radiation) before they affect the skin. A physical sunscreen sits on the skin's surface and reflects or scatters UV radiation before it is able to damage the skin. These two forms of protection have different methods of achieving a similar goal.

The FDA requires that all sun protection products display a Sun Protection Factor or SPF label, although many consumers are unaware of the fact that this label only indicates the relative amount of protection from UVB rays a product can provide when used correctly. Certain ingredients must be included in a product to receive adequate UVA protection. In order for a sun protection product to provide broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone or ecampsule (MexorylTM) must be included. Sunscreens with an SPF of at least 30 are recommended. High SPF numbers can be misleading, as an SPF of 30 is not twice as protective as an SPF of 15. When used properly, an SPF of 15 protects the skin from 93% of UVB radiation, an SPF 30 97% and an SPF 65 98% protection.

chemotherapy/radiation therapy and the skin

Common Dermatological side effects of cancer treatment

• sensitivity or allergic reactions
• severe dryness
• flushing
• hyperpigmentation
• photosensitivity
• rashes
• acne/folliculitis

Through good skin care, we can help these patients look and feel better. It is wise to select skin care products that do not contain synthetic fragrances, colors or other known sensitizers to avoid instigating any reactions. Peels should be avoided during the course of chemotherapy, except detox gel for acne breakouts/folliculitis. Cancer patients should consult their oncologist prior to beginning any new regimens.

Rehabilitating the skin after completion of treatment

Using gentle products during treatment can help keep hyperpigmentation at bay, but when the skin recovers, blended superficial chemical peels can help to rid the skin of any unwanted pigmentary deposits. Protocols should focus on the low-dose approach to allow the skin to adjust and regain equilibrium. My personal access to a highly educated team of Physician Consultants is also available for me to help you customize your regimens and treatments.