science

Facts about Skin

As the body's largest organ, the skin is a flexible layer that covers your entire surface.  It makes up 18% of an adult's weight and has an approximate total area of 1.5 – 2 m2.  It serves as a protective shield against heat, light, injury and infection.  The skin also controls body temperature, stores water and fat, senses things and stops dehydration.

Skin changes its thickness, color and texture depending on where it is on the body.  For example, the head contains more hair glands than anywhere else, while the bottom of the feet contain none.  In addition, the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands are much thicker.

Skin and hydration Spots and pimples Common skin conditions

 

The structure of the skin

The skin is made up of 3 layers, the epidermis, dermis and subcutis.  Each layer performs specific functions.

The epidermis is the thin outer layer of the skin.  Along the internal surface of the epidermis, young cells (basal cells) continuously multiply, pushing the older cells (keratinocytes) outward.  At the outer surface the older cells flatten and overlap to form a tough layer (stratum corneum) and gradually fall-off as calluses or collections of dead skin.  Hair and nails are just different types of the epidermis.   Although the epidermis has no blood vessels, its deeper layers contain melanin, the pigment that gives the skin its colour.

The dermis is the middle layer. It consists of connective tissue (collagen) with blood vessels, lymph channels, nerve endings, sweat glands, fat cells, hair follicles, muscles and oil glands (sebaceous glands).  The oil glands release an oily substance (sebum) that lubricates the skin and hair.  Nerve endings, called receptors, allow us to feel gentle touch, pressure, heat and cold.

The subcutaneous fat layer or subcutis is the deepest layer. It is made of collagen and fat cells.  It helps keep the body cool in the summer and hot in the winter.  It also protects the body from injury by acting as a "shock absorber."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skin and hydration

Your skin is made up of oils which bind together to prevent your body from losing too much water and becoming dehydrated.  People who suffer with dry irritated skin, or those with eczema and psoriasis, have more water loss from their skin.  This causes their skin to feels dry and can even make their skin more susceptible to damage and infections.  This can be fixed by using increasing the amount of water you drink, by protecting your skin from scratching and damage from chemicals like strong soaps, and by using moisturising creams and gels.

 

Spots and pimples

Spots and pimples are caused as a result of the interplay of the following factors: 

       

The development of spots and pimples is a multistep process:  

  • The first step is the formation of microcomedones - As the dead skin cells begin to accumulate inside the pore, the cells become sticky and get stuck inside the pore and form a plug; 
  • This is worsened by a primary inflammation which leads to hyperkeratinisation - the immune response results in the dead cells becoming sticky and clumping; 
  • Elevated levels of sebum(oil) provide nutrition for acne bacteria to multiply;
  • This infection causes further inflammation.

The result is a vicious circle that leads to the formation and continued presence of pimples and pustules.

                           

Our Gentlecare Calming Moisturisers contain active ingredients that block this cycle and when used as part of a good skin care regime help to control the formation and continued presence of spots and pimples on the face and body. we recommend using in conjuction with our Gentlecare Refreshing Wash Gels.

 

Common skin conditions

There are a number of medical conditions that affect the skin.  It is always advisable to seek medical advice before treating skin conditions that do not settle with the use of moisturising creams.  Three of the commonest medical conditions that doctors diagnose are eczema, psoriasis and acne.  To find out more about these conditions click the relevant link below or scroll down.

 

Eczema/ Dermatitis Psoriasis Acne

 

Eczema/ Dermatitis

Eczema is also known as dermatitis.  It mainly affects children, but can continue into adulthood.  Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked.  It is a long-term, or chronic, condition.

Atopic eczema commonly occurs in areas with folds of skin, such as:

  • behind the knees
  • the inside of the elbows
  • on the side of the neck
  • around the eyes and ears

Atopic eczema can vary in severity and most people are only mildly affected.  Severe symptoms include cracked, sore and bleeding skin.  People with atopic eczema usually have periods when symptoms are less noticeable, as well as flare-ups when symptoms become more severe, needing additional treatment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What causes atopic eczema?

Eczema often occurs in people who get allergies.  Eczema can run in families and often occurs alongside other conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.

What's the treatment?

The main treatments are:

Who is affected?

About 20%, or one in every five children, in the UK has eczema.  Many children develop it before their first birthday.  Men and women are equally affected.  Cutagen products have been safety tested and are safe to use on even the most delicate skin.

Do I need to see a doctor?

Most people are diagnosed by their GP and then advised to continue their treatment with moisturising creams.  Whenever the condition starts to get worse, it is advisable to be seen again.  Some people with severe eczema need to be referred to a dermatologist (skin specialist) for advanced treatments, but this is rare.

 

Psoriasis

Psoriasis affects 2% of people in the UK and upto 3% of the population of the world.  It usually starts between the ages of 11 and 45.  Psoriasis is a genetic condition, which means that it runs in families.  One-third of people with psoriasis have a close family-member with it.  Psoriasis is not infectious.

What is it?

Psoriasis causes patches on the skin, which can be thickened, red and flaky.  They cause itching or burning.  They can occur anywhere on the body.  The patches more commonly occur on elbows, knees and the lower back.

What causes psoriasis?

In psoriasis, the body attacks it’s own skin cells by mistake.  This mistake arises from the genetic code of a person.  Psoriasis is therefore known as an autoimmune condition.  However, not everybody is affected the same.  What you do, the environment you are in and the things you eat and drink can make it worse - including alcohol, smoking, stress and some medicines, such as anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, for example) and beta-blockers (used to treat heart problems).  Psoriasis is not passed on through close contact.

What can I do if I have psoriasis?

The first step is to avoid the things that can flare up your psoriasis.  Adults with good health should aim to drink between 8 to 12 cups of water per day to keep their skin hydrated.  Washing your hands with Cutagen Gentlecare Creme Hand Cleanser and showering or bathing with Cutagen Gentlecare Creme Cleanser - Bath & Shower wil keep your skin clean and moisturised.  These products are completely soap and irritant-free.  By using Cutagen Gentlecare Calming Moisturiser for your face and Cutagen Gentlecare Calming Hand & Body Moisturiser for everywhere else, you’ll avoid drying your skin.  Cutagen products do not contain any damaging chemicals and help keep your skin moisturised and clean.

For more severe psoriasis:

  • creams containing vitamin D or vitamin A
  • steroid creams
  • tar preparations
  • exposing the skin to ultraviolet (UV) light
  • medication taken by mouth or injection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do I need to see a doctor?

Most people are treated by their GP, but some with more severe psoriasis might be referred to a dermatologist (skin specialist).

 

Acne

Acne is a very common skin condition.  It affects most teenagers and people in their 20s.  Acne causes spots to develop on the face, back and chest.  The spots can be small blackheads and whiteheads to red, irritated pus-filled pimples.  These pimples can lead to scarring.

 

What can I do if I have acne?

Cutagen Gentlecare Refreshing Wash Gel is designed to help keep your skin clean.  Wash the affected area twice a day and rub the skin gently to avoid irritating it.  Although acne can’t be cured, it can be controlled.  Keep your skin moisturised with Cutagen Gentlecare Clarifying Moisturiser which is not as oily as other moisturising creams.  Don’t pick or squeeze the spots as this can lead to permanent scarring.

What causes acne?

Acne is very common in teenagers and younger adults with about 80% having suffered with acne.  Girls are more likely to get acne than boys.  It is thought that acne is linked to the changes in hormones during puberty, pregnancy and a woman’s monthly cycle.  The skin starts to produce large amounts of an oily substance known as sebum.  This blocks the pores of the skin through which hairs grow, causing blackheads and whiteheads.  An infection occurs inside the blocked pore, causing pus to form and pimples to grow.  

Do I need to see a Doctor?

If your acne is severe (large pimples with pus in them) or spreads onto your chest and back, it may need to be treated with antibiotics or stronger creams that are only available on prescription.  You should see your GP if you cannot control your acne or if it is scarring, worsening or causing you to be unhappy.  Acne does get better with age, though some people can have it for a long time.  

 

Cutagen believes that nothing beats the advice of a good doctor to diagnose a skin condition.  If you have a skin condition, which is not settling down after a week with using a moisturising cream, or is getting worse, you should always seek the advice of a medical professional.  This is especially important for babies and for those over the age of 65.  The advice on this page is intended to help you make an informed choice about Cutagen products and for you to seek medical advice when it is needed.

 

 

 

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