Anatomy and Physiology

of the Skin

Image from: http://www.chiff.com/health/skin.htm

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- 1© The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes

Table of Contents
Overview of the Integumentary System................................................. 4
Understanding the Skin.......................................................................... 4
The Epidermis........................................................................................ 6
The Acid Mantle..................................................................................... 6
What is pH?............................................................................................ 7
The Five Layers of the Epidermis.......................................................... 8
Stratum basale........................................................................... 8
Stratum spinosum...................................................................... 10
Stratum granulosm.................................................................... 11
Stratum lucidum........................................................................ 11
Stratum corneum....................................................................... 11
Lipids and the Skin barrier function..................................................... 11
Transepidermal water loss and NMF...................................................... 13
How to protect the skin from moisture loss............................................ 14
The basement membrane/dermoepidermal junction.............................. 14
The Dermis............................................................................................. 15
Structures in the Dermis......................................................................... 16
What happens as our skin ages?............................................................. 17
Accessory structures of the Skin............................................................ 18
Hair, Hair follicles and Sebaceous Glands................................ 18
Sebaceous lipids......................................................................... 18
Overview of lipid composition/sebum/epidermis...................... 19
The sudoriferous glands............................................................. 19
Sensory nerves, Nails................................................................. 20
Clues the nails provide............................................................... 21
The Hypodermis/subcutanea.................................................................. 22
Essential Oils as novel skin penetration enhancers................................ 23

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- 2© The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes

3© The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . 4. 9. Define and provide functions of the hypodermis. Describe the difference in the subcutaneous layer in men versus women. 13. 5. Define and explain the importance of: the acid mantle. Describe what happens as the skin ages. Define the term pH and its relevance to the skin and skincare products. 8. Describe the general structure and function of each of the five layers of the epidermis. Provide an overview of health clues the nails can provide. 15. ___________________________________________________________________________ . you will be able to: 1. Describe how essential oils are novel penetration enhancers. 3. and fatty acids in the health of the skin. cholesterol. 16. Identify the primary function of the dermis. 7. 17. List and describe the two layers of the dermis and the structures it contains. 11. Describe the role of ceramides.Learning Objectives After you have completed this section. 6. List and discuss the 7 functions of the skin. Name and describe the 4 types of cells found in the epidermis. 14. 2. 12. Explain the importance of sebum and describe the lipids it contains. Define the term ‘Acid Mantle’ and explain its structure and function. 10. Discuss the importance of the Langerhans’ cells. Describe the importance of the stratum corneum in relation to transepidermal water loss and the natural moisturizing factor.

heat. D. twelve feet of blood vessels. and the accessory structures: sebaceous and sudoriferous glands.2 square meters in area and consists of the largest organ of the body. Unbroken. and protects the body from ultra violet damage from the sun by producing melanin (a tan). breathes (takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide). hair and nails. pressure.Overview of the Integumentary System The integumentary system is the largest system of the body. ___________________________________________________________________________ . The integumentary system is a dynamic interface between the continually changing external environment and the body’s internal environment and helps to maintain homeostasis. salt and water Understanding the Skin The skin is our largest. The skin also protects underlying structures and organs. the skin. The skin regulates body temperatures by constricting blood vessels and driving blood inward in cold temperatures to preserve body heat and producing sweat in warm temperatures to cool the body by water evaporation. synthesizes and stores vitamin D. Indeed. sensation is a very important function of the skin. The skin detoxifies the body by excreting wastes (mostly through the sweat glands). The skin is our largest sensory organ. pain and temperature • detoxes/excretes organic wastes. microbes. and temperature stimuli to the brain.5 . The skin is capable of absorbing fat soluble nutrients such as vitamins A. pressure. It makes up approximately 16% of body weight. and K. guarding against both foreign invasions (bacteria/fungi) and preventing excessive water and extracellular fluid loss. and shock/ impacts • maintains body temperature by insulation (heating) and by sweat evaporation (cooling) • synthesizes and stores vitamin D (converted to calcitriol for calcium regulation) • protects the body from ultra violet damage • stores lipids in the dermis • sensory reception: touch. 1 The functions of the integumentary system include: • protects underlying tissues and organs from chemicals. vital organ. maintaining our health and well being in an amazing variety of ways. and cold. In a square centimeter of skin there are one hundred sweat glands. pain. It covers an average of eighteen square feet and weighs about seven to eight pounds. and hundreds of sensory receptors for touch. E. the skin’s primary function is to serve as a protective barrier. sending neurological messages about touch.4© The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . is 1.

shape. synthesis of vitamins and hormones.2 The skin functions in homeostasis via its protective function. storage. water balance. and in adjusting the body’s levels of water and salt through perspiration. the dermis (composed of 2 layers).e. and the subcutaneous layer. From infancy to adulthood and into old age. and functions according to the demands placed on it. the skin is involved in the metabolism. qualities. and catabolism of fat. Together. The skin can be considered a dynamic organ.3 A cross section of the skin reveals three defined layers: the epidermis (composed of 5 layers). Langerhan’s cells) of the skin tissue itself. and also by means of chemical constituents (i. As a metabolic organ. and absorption of nutrients and other materials necessary for its health. sensory perception. ever changing as old cells fall away and new cells are born. the skin changes in its size. As we study the layers of the skin. it is ___________________________________________________________________________ . these three layers form the miraculous “living fabric” known as skin.5© The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes .The skin also serves as a part of the body’s immune system. primarily by means of the rich network of lymph vessels. through regulating body temperature.

vegetable oils support this crucial system. acne).5 mm (millimeters) thick depending on location.4 The three layers of the skin represent one whole system. If the acid mantle loses its acidity. The acid mantle has an average pH of 4 to 6. The acid mantle also supports the barrier function of the stratum corneum. a rate that slows down with age. Exfoliation can be beneficial in removing dead surface cells and speeding up replacement of new cells. Thick skin has 5 layers and is found on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. scale-like avascular (not associated with or supplied by blood vessels) stratified squamous epithelial cells which are continually being shed. 5 ___________________________________________________________________________ . The Epidermis The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin. According to Kusmirek. An entirely new epidermis is formed by the migration of cells from the innermost layer of the epidermis to the outermost layer. This takes approximately twenty-eight to thirty days. melanocytes (5%). Thin skin has 4 layers and covers the rest of the body.04 . known as the cuticle or protective layer and is composed of tightly packed. The epidermis is is composed of four types of cells: keratinocytes (90%).6© The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes .important to remember that one layer cannot be affected without some effect on the other layers. This covering is called the acid mantle. Because the cells are avascular. the skin becomes more prone to damage and infection as well as irritation and sensitivity. merkel cells (6-10%). The Acid Mantle The epidermis is covered with a thin layer of natural lipids (oil known as sebum produced by the sebaceous glands and a tiny amount of lipids from the stratum corneum) and perspiration (sweat produced by sweat glands). and Langerhans cells (2-5%). The whole epidermis is about 0. This stripping on the skins natural protective coating can lead to a wide range of disorders and can aggravate existing disorders (e.g. Kusmirek points out that the skin’s acid mantle is vital to the skin’s health as it is our first line of defense against germs and contains elements that maintain crucial moisture.1. Soap products tend to be highly alkaline which is actually neutralizing our skins acid pH thereby stripping away our natural defense systems. they depend on nutrients and oxygen diffused from capillaries in the dermis. This stripping also disturbs the stratum corneum’s barrier function leading to disorders characterized by inflammation and dryness.5 which is designed to protect the skin against bacterial and fungal infection as well as water loss. There are two types of skin: thick and thin.

needs more neutral to acidic pH products. What is pH? pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity of body fluids and/or skin products. The skin.To maintain the skins acid mantle: • Avoid harsh soaps.7© The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . • Moisturize skin frequently with a slightly acidic moisturizer. • Use pH balanced skin care products.5. Alkaline soaps/cleansers can disturb and even destroy the acid mantle layer making the skin more susceptible to bacterial invasion and irritation. pH is measured on a scale of 1 to 14. • Protect skin from sun as appropriate. The pH of the skin is slightly acidic ranging from 4 to 5. going from acid (1) to alkaline (14). ___________________________________________________________________________ . therefore. 1_______________________7_______________________14 Acidic Neutral Alkaline Water has a neutral pH of 7.

advancements in the study of hemidesmosomes have shown that the absence or defects of hemidesmosomal proteins result in devastating blistering diseases of the skin. Other cells found in the stratum basale include: melanocytes and merkel cells. Melanin in the epidermis gives the skin its color and also protects the ___________________________________________________________________________ . The epidermal ridges are what gives each of us our unique fingerprints. Dermal projections called dermal papillae extend upward from the dermis between adjacent epidermal ridges of the stratum basale. This combination of dermal papillae and epidermal ridges increases the surface area for diffusion of nutrients between the dermis and epidermis. starting at the base of the epidermis include: • The stratum basale (syn. This layer is only one cell thick and contains about 14% oil (mostly phospholipids and cholesterol) and 70-90% water. The stratum basale is the main layer of the epidermis where keratinocytes undergo cell reproduction (mitosis). Over the past 10-15 years.The five layers of the epidermis. by hemidesmosomes (half desmosomes). also called germinative or basal cells. These cells are firmly attached to the basal lamina. They also play a role in tissue integrity.8© The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . the upper layer of the dermoepidermal junction (to be discussed shortly). Hemidesmosomes (hemi·des·mo·somes) are involved in promoting the adhesion of epithelial cells to the underlying basement membrane thus ensuring a strong bond between the epidermis and the dermis. • Melanocytes are spidery black cells that produce the brown-to-black pigment known as melanin. germinativum) The stratum basale is the deepest layer of the epidermis and is composed mainly of dividing and non-dividing keratinocytes.

Instead. nd) The skin also contains varying amounts of the orange-yellow pigment. In places where melanocytes are concentrated and/or very active. Individuals of Asian decent will have an abundance of carotene. to facilitate pigment transfer. ___________________________________________________________________________ . they pass it to the neighboring keratinocytes which then carry it up through the layers and out of the system. shields the cells genetic material (DNA) from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation. Melanocytes make the melanin. Melanocytes have long and extensive processes that reach out and contact many keratinocytes. carotene. These cells work in conjunction with sensory nerve endings. localized deep pigmentation occurs.9© The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . • Merkel cells make up about 6-10% of the cells in the epidermis and play a role in sensory perception. and in the formation of melanin. The skin protects itself from the sun in two ways: by initiating the thickening of the stratum corneum. (Caceci. which can be converted to vitamin A to support the health of the skin tissue as well as for the synthesis of photoreceptor pigments in the eye. Within the epidermal and dermal junction. They serve as mechanoreceptors and are involved in light touch sensation. but they don’t retain it for long. merkel cells form sensitive touch receptors called Merkel discs. They can be isolated or grouped together in clusters called Merkel corpuscles. They make up approximately 5% of the cells in the stratum basale. providing them with their unique yellow-tan skin.underlying layers from the damaging effects of the sun. by providing a protective pigment covering for the nuclei of the cells within the deeper epidermal layers. Melanin.

such as microorganisms or debris) manufactured in the bone marrow. virus. Limited mitosis can occur at this stage. The desmosome is an adhesive intercellular junction that is crucial to tissues. These cells are called desmosomes. Langerhans cells make up 2-5% of the cells of the epidermis. such as the skin. Langerhans cells are found mainly in the stratum spinosum and stratum germinativum layers of the epidermis. Langerhans cells seem to be present in lymphatic nodes as well.6 Research at Harvard Medical School has shown that one of the most important events in skin aging is a decrease in the proliferation of Langerhans cells. though they can also be found in other organs throughout the body. that experience mechanical stress. These cells participate in the cutaneous immune response and migrate from skin to lymph nodes.• The stratum spinosum (spiny layer) The stratum spinosum is also known as the spiny cell layer due to the tiny fibrils that connect the cells together.10 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . They play a role in immunity by detecting foreign substances. which are specialized cells responsible for cell-to-cell adhesion and are found in all layers of the skin but are most numerous in the stratum spinosum. fungi. As cells arrive in the stratum spinosum. they have lost some of its oil and water content. or other harmful substances. Langerhans cells are phagocytic cells (cells that ingest and destroy foreign matter. ___________________________________________________________________________ . Antigens include bacteria. also called antigens. The stratum spinosum is eight to ten layers thick. Langerhans cells are found in the stratum spinosum.

Keratin is extremely durable and water-resistant. As the differentiation process nears its end. varying in thickness from one cell to noticeable thickness on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.These immune system cells send dendrites to the very surface layer of the stratum corneum where they are exposed to everything happening at the surface and come into contact with everything applied to the skin. The cells that make up this layer have lost most of their oil and water content (compared to the stratum germinativum layer). It is also the protein that forms the basic structure of hair and nails. Materials aimed at activating the skin’s natural defense system can have truly far-reaching effects. Once they reach the stratum corneum they have changed into dead keratinized cells with no nucleus. It is thin and poorly defined. Langerhans’ cells are involved with the skin’s reaction. similar to the stratum corneum. And these are capabilities that have long been claimed for aromatherapy. Lipids are produced during the process of epidermal differentiation and originate from lamellar bodies (small secretory cells that are found in keratinocytes) that are expelled from keratinocytes in the stratum granulosum. • The stratum corneum (hornlike layer) This is the layer of the epidermis that is exposed to the environment and is the thickest of the epidermal layers having 15-30 layers of keratinized cells which are continuously being shed. These cells in the stratum corneum are called corneocytes. The lamellar granules deliver both lipids and a number of hydrolytic enzymes. The stratum granulosm is one to four cellular layers thick consisting of flattened rows of cells. such as in dermatitis or sensitization. It is composed of flattened and hardened skin cells (non-living) made of keratin. is found only in the thick skin of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The process of keratinocytes transforming into corneocytes is know as epidermal differentiation. Although the water content is different from the stratum germinativum layer. the lamellar granules discharge their contents into the intercellular space.11 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . the stratum corneum maintains up to 15-30% water which is vital to enabling the stratum corneum to work. As they proceed through each layer they become flattened and filled with keratin. Lipids and the Skins Barrier Function The stratum corneum is said to have a ‘brick and mortar’ design. • The stratum lucidum The stratum lucidum. also called the ‘clear layer’. These enzymes act on phospholipids 7 in the vicinity of the stratum ___________________________________________________________________________ . The bricks are the cells (corneocytes) that make up this layer while the mortar is the complex of intercellular lipids that hold or bind moisture in between the ‘bricks’. • The stratum granulosm (granular layer) Here in the stratum granulosm cells stop dividing and begin producing large amounts of the protein keratin (KER-a-tin). Keratinocytes into Corneocytes Recall that keratinocytes are formed in the stratum basale and migrate upwards through the layers of the skin.

Ceramides are a type of sphingolipid.13 Vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid ___________________________________________________________________________ . Linoleic acid (LA).9 Cholesterol is the most abundant individual lipid in the stratum corneum.10 Fatty acids in the skin provide lubrication. cholesterol (20-25%).granulosum-stratum corneum interface resulting in the production of the principal lipids of the stratum corneum. The role of cholesterol in the epidermal barrier is probably to provide a degree of fluidity to what could otherwise be a rigid. the most abundant polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) present in the epidermis. linoleic acid and others. possibly brittle membrane system. It also is required for synthesis of the important long-chain ceramides necessary to protect against dry skin. 12 It is crucial to the proper growth and development of the epidermis. myristic acid. and they are responsible for generating the stacked lipid structures that trap water molecules in their hydrophilic region. Some of the fatty acids found in the skin include: palmitic acid.11 Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid in the skin that is required for the formation and maintenance of the cutaneous barrier to water loss. fatty acids (10-25%).12 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . stearic acid. 40-50%). softening and protection for the protein structures and prevention of moisture loss from the skin. palmitoleic acid. 8 The principal lipids found in the stratum corneum include ceramides (approx. Both essential and non-essential fatty acids play separate and critical roles in proper skin function. These stacked lipids surround the corneocytes and provide an impermeable barrier by preventing the movement of water and NMF out of the surface layers of the skin. It is this mortar of lipids that serves to prevent water loss through the stratum corneum.

are cells encased in a protein and lipid matrix and it is this extracellular lipid matrix that provides the barrier functions of the skin. This protective barrier function is principally the role of the epidermis and specifically of the stratum corneum. and psoriasis. This is considered to be one of the major functions of the skin. With the brick-and-mortar design. Deficiency of essential fatty acids in the skin alters the barrier function of the skin. hemp seed. all the signs of xerosis (an abnormal dryness of the skin or mucus membranes). disrupts epidermic homeostasis. The most common areas individuals experience xerosis are on the arms and legs. as well as prevents excessive water loss. the stratum corneum prevents the absorption of noxious substances and the entry of pathogens (microbes). Transepidermal water loss and the natural moisturizing factor The stratum corneum plays a key role in maintaining the water level of the skin below and in regulating the natural moisture flow out from the deeper layers to be lost eventually by evaporation from the skin surface. flax seed. They can hold large amounts of water in the skin cells and are also capable of absorbing water from the atmosphere and/or products applied to the skin. This flow is known as the transepidermal water loss (TEWL). ___________________________________________________________________________ . The lipids and the natural moisturizing factor (NMF) of the stratum corneum are crucial in maintaining the water level of the skin as well as reducing transepidermal water loss. Corneocytes in the stratum corneum. including excessive epidermal water loss. therefore. scaly. dermatitis. The topical application of vegetable oils rich in essential fatty acids can be of great benefit in restoring the skin barrier as well as in treating inflammatory disorders including eczema. the cells in the stratum corneum (the corneocytes) form a waterretaining barrier embedded in a lipid matrix. If the water content of the stratum corneum (commonly caused by a breakdown or assault to the skin barrier) falls below 10% the natural functions of it are impaired and the skin becomes dry (dehydrated). and less pliable. sugars. etc) that are only found in this layer. walnut.include: safflower. sunflower/not high oleic acid version. and can lead to marked skin abnormalities. redness. These compounds are responsible for keeping the skin moist and pliable by attracting and holding water. urea.14 EFA deficiency may arise from various factors such as insufficient supply in the diet.13 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . for wound healing and preventing wrinkles. such as advanced age and certain diseases including diabetes. The NMF is a collection of water soluble compounds (such as free amino acids. dryness. peptides. scaliness. and metabolic anomalies. The lipids serve to prevent water loss from occurring in the NMF. and other signs of inflammation. NMF components are hydrophilic and act as humectants attracting and absorbing water. By providing a physical barrier. and sesame oil. Macadamia nut and sea buckthorn oils are all rich in palmitic acid. The stratum corneum plays a vital role in controlling and reducing TEWL. dermatitis. wheatgerm. lactic acid.

itchy. and balms. age. ___________________________________________________________________________ . squalene. excessive use of water and soap. The maintenance of a healthy skin barrier is essential.14 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . psoriasis.15 How to protect the skin from loss of moisture and support lipid matrix The term emollient is derived from the Latin meaning to soften and implies a substance that acts to smooth the skin surface. which makes the skin vulnerable to environmental insults that cause dryness and irritation. called the basement membrane or the dermoepidermal junction. and other vegetable oils provide valuable nutrients to the skin and are also slightly occlusive. butters. heating during the winter months. creams.g. The skin may also have fissures and cracks. and other irritating chemicals can break down the protective lipid layer and increase transepidermal water loss by altering the skins natural water-holding capacity. detergents. The Basement membrane/Dermoepidermal junction At the bottom of the epidermis is a very thin membrane. seasonal influences and diet affect the stratum corneum lipids with any deficiency in these lipids potentially resulting in dehydrated skin or xerosis. e. and dull skin. wind burn. shea butter. especially for those individuals who suffer with common skin disorders that can be exacerbated by dry skin. Signs of a compromised skin barrier include: dry. atopic dermatitis and photodamage. flaky. avocado oil. which helps to reduce the evaporation of water from the skin” (Howard. and support the lipid matrix. ambient low humidity. which attaches the epidermis firmly. lotions. 2005). to the dermis. Humectants are substances which attract water. The use of solvents. ointments. frostbite). lanolin. All of these disorders can be linked to fundamental barrier dysfunction. prevent TEWL. Honey and glycerin are the two most common humectants used in creams.Cold or heat exposure (such as sunburn. lotions and in water based preparations. Occlusive substances have a ‘hydrating effect on the skin because they form a barrier on the skin’s surface. Emollients soften the skin. Maintaining healthy skin on a daily basis is crucial for adults and children even in the absence of such disorders. rough. though not rigidly. Substances such as beeswax. genetics. Emollients include vegetable oils.

however. The dermis accounts for more than 90% of the skin mass and for the greatest part of its physical strength. during pregnancy or obesity). is thicker and has dense collagen bundles and coarse elastin fibers and it carries most of the physical stress of the skin. elastic fibers. the outermost layer in direct contact with the epidermis. The reticular layer (stratum reticularosum). consisting of loose connective tissue containing capillaries. nerve fibers. and some collagen. and epidermal appendages (hair follicles. and the reticular layer. ___________________________________________________________________________ . 17 The two layers of the dermis are the papillary layer. This is the layer of the dermis that is in contact with the epidermis.The dermoepidermal junction is an undulating basement membrane that adheres the epidermis to the dermis. As the skin ages. It is composed of 2 layers. and waste products occurs between the dermis and the avascular epidermis. The papillae (projections) of this layer form the base for the friction ridges on the fingers and toes. The thicker lamina densa is in direct contact with the underlying dermis. The Dermis The primary function of the dermis is to sustain and support the epidermis by providing physical and nutritional support. This layer is able to stretch (e. lymph vessels. the lamina lucida and lamina densa.g. The reticular layer also contains fibroblasts. reticular fibers. The papillary layer (stratum papillarosum) is thinner. This highly irregular junction greatly increases the surface area over which exchange of oxygen.15 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . nutrients. on the other hand.16 Dermal papillae from the papillary dermis contain a plexus of capillaries and lymphatics oriented perpendicular to the skin surface. when stretched too far it causes ‘tearing’ of the dermis. It accounts for about 1/5th of the dermis. The repair of this tearing is what leaves stretch marks on the skin. mast cells. the dermoepidermal junction flattens and is responsible for some of the visible signs of aging. These fingerlike projections are surrounded by similar projections of the epidermis. The lamina lucida is thinner and lies directly beneath the basal layer of epidermal keratinocytes. sebaceous glands and sweat glands). It contains lymphatics and sensory neurons.

a soluble precursor. and reticulin. It also helps some of your tissues do their work. long chained protein that is tough and does not stretch easily. Hyaluronic acid attracts and retains water to maintain moisture and flexibility in the skin. • Connective tissue Connective tissue is the material inside the body that supports many of its parts. Reticulin is the least understood of these fibers and is present in the smallest amount. both arterioles and capillaries that originate from arteries and veins in the subcutaneous layer. collagen. 2005). • Blood and lymph vessels The dermis is well supplied with blood vessels. The nucleus of cleaved cells appears divided or segmented. It is the “cellular glue” that gives your tissues their shape and helps keep them strong. ___________________________________________________________________________ . and flexibility. Hyaluronic acid can hold a thousand times its weight in water. The dermal blood vessels play an important role in regulating body temperature and blood pressure. resiliency. These cells produce and secrete procollagen and elastic fibers.) by proteolytic enzymes (any of a group of enzymes that break the long chainlike molecules of proteins into shorter fragments) into collagen that aggregates and becomes cross linked. is derived from procollagen. made of small protein fibers. Collagen is a complex. Connective tissue webbing of the dermis is also responsible for the changes in appearance of aging skin as well. and appears mainly in the papillary layer. It is believed that the fine meshwork of reticulin fibers supports cells or groups of cells which have specialized functions. the major constituent of skin and bone. it also contains the main mechanism for the healing of injuries of all kinds. The connective tissue fibers are supported in a gel-like substance composed mostly of mucopolysaccharides. Procollagen is terminally cleaved (having to do with the appearance of cells when viewed under a microscope.16 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . 18 There are three types of fibers that make up the connective tissue (fibrous material) in the dermis: elastin. particularly hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid diminishes with age.Structures in the Dermis • The fibroblast The fibroblast is the major cell type of the dermal layer of the skin. Elastin is a protein component of the fibers that give the skin its elasticity—the ability to stretch and return to it original shape. Connective tissue gives the skin strength. It gives the skin strength and makes up about 75% of the fibrous material. This hydration keeps the collagen and elastin fibers pliable. which helps keep the skin tissues well hydrated (Howard. Blood vessels within the dermis supply nutrients to the stratum basale as well as to the cellular structures of the dermis such as glands and hair follicles. The fibrous protein collagen. This network of connective tissue in the dermis is not only responsible for the resiliency and adherence of the skin. It is similar to collagen.

injected vaccines or drugs.19 Gentle facial massage can support healthy lymph flow in the skin. Once the initial lymphatics drain the fluid into the contractile chain of lymphangions (functional unit of the lymph vessel). environmental and cosmetic issues as well as the aging process itself. stains from tattoos.Lymph vessels Lymph vessels take up fluid from the capillaries that has been diffused but not reabsorbed by them. During the aging process: • Collagen fibers decrease in number & stiffen • Elastic fibers become less elastic • Fibroblasts decrease in number • Langerhans cells and macrophages decrease in number and become less-efficient phagocytes • Oil glands shrink and the skin becomes dry • Walls of blood vessels in dermis thicken so decreased nutrient availability leads to thinner skin as subcutaneous fat is lost These details greatly support the need to maintain and support the health of the skin through the application of organic whole skincare products. peristaltic motion coupled with regular valve closure to prevent reflow provides an active mechanism to propel fluid toward the central ducts. whole foods/good nutrition. lymphatics carry material that has penetrated the dermis. clean air. including solvents of skin cosmetics.17 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . and a healthy emotional environment. In the skin. ___________________________________________________________________________ . What happens as our skin ages? Most of the issues we experience as we age occur in the dermis and are a result of nutritional. and products of inflammatory reactions.

and upper back and chest. It causes the hair to stand on end. sweat glands and nails. The primary function of hair is to protect and insulate. reacting to cold or emotion. wax esters and triacylglycerols (also called triglycerides) and smaller amounts of cholesterol. the lips and portions of external genitalia. The are located in the dermis and project out on the skin surface. neck. the sebaceous gland produces some unique species that cannot be found in any other organ of the body. ___________________________________________________________________________ . sebaceous glands. which protects the surface of the skin. hair follicles. the hair follicle is a tubular structure that is lined with epithelial tissue and houses the growing hair. The only muscle in the skin is the erector pili muscle which is attached to each hair follicle. squalene. protecting it from moisture loss. for essential oils. the soles of the feet. scalp.18 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . • Hair follicles Extending from deep in the dermis to the surface of the skin. & hence the bloodstream. Sebum lubricates the hair follicle and hair shaft.20 The main components found in sebaceous lipids include: sapienic acid21. It also acts as an anti-bacterial agent.Accessory structures of the Skin The accessory structures of the skin include hair. a hormone whose scent attracts the opposite sex. • Glands The Sebaceous glands The sebaceous glands are attached to the hair follicles and produce an oil called sebum which is secreted onto the surface of the skin. It can also be a source of psychological stress. and acts as an emollient/lubricant for the skin. The acid mantle. is made up of perspiration and sebum. Some researchers believe that sebum’s primary function may be as a pheromone. cholesterol esters and diglycerides. Hair is also a distinguishing characteristic to each individual and can serve as a sexual attractant. the human body is covered with hair. • Hair With the exception of the palms of the hands. Sebaceous glands are most concentrated on the face. Hair in the nose and the eyelashes serve to prevent particles and insects from entering. 22 These components play an important role in supporting the skins barrier functions as well as insulate and protect underlying organs. *The hair follicle is considered to be a site of entrance into the dermal layer of the skin. Sebaceous Lipids Although the majority of lipids produced by all other organs of the human body are alike.

Squalene is a triterpene hydrocarbon and is a natural and vital part of the synthesis of cholesterol. Overview of Lipid composition of Sebum and the Epidermis Lipid composition of various parts of adult human skin Component Sebum Epidermis Squalene 10 . help to maintain body temperature by secreting perspiration. steroid hormones.The predominant fatty acid of sebum is sapienic acid.40% 10% Wax esters 23 . also known as the sweat glands. sunflower oil and wheatgerm oil are rich in squalene.14% <0. Triacylglycerols are abundant not only in the skin and body but also in vegetable oils such as olive.5% Sterol esters < 1% 10% Sterols (unesterfied) 0 20% Free fatty acids 5 . N. Sapienic acid is formed in the sebaceous glands and has powerful antibacterial properties. Sympathetic nerves in response to raised body temperature stimulate sweat glands. 1974 The Sudoriferous glands The sudoriferous glands.60% 10% Di. ___________________________________________________________________________ . It is unique to the skin and is not found anywhere else in the body.and monoacyl glycerols 1-2% 10% Glyco.29% 0 Triacylglycerols (triglycerides) 41 . sunflower and palm. each having slightly different functions. and vitamin D in the human body and skin. The primary functions of eccrine glands include: cools skin. The hypothalamus is the key regulator of body temperature and responds to the temperature of circulating blood. There are two types of sudoriferous glands: the apocrine (the larger) and eccrine (the smaller). The evaporation of perspiration from the skin’s surface cools the body. Wax esters can be found in jojoba oil.19 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . Olive oil. • Eccrine glands are found all over the skin but are particularly abundant on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.and phospholipids 0 30% Unidentified 5% 10% This chart was adapted from Nicolaides.

Meissner’s corpuscles are oval-shaped and register the sensation of light touch. apocrine sweat glands produce sweat that mostly contains fatty materials. Apocrine gland activity is the main cause of sweat odor. The sweat glands are controlled by sympathetic cholinergic nerves which are controlled by a center in the hypothalamus. eccrine glands respond to both temperature and emotional conditions. The following chart outlines clues the nails can provide. The nail itself is made of keratin. Eccrine sweat contains approximately 99% water and 1% solids. and external genitalia. salt.23 • Sensory nerves The skin is one of the main sensory organs of the body and contains large numbers of nerve endings.excretes water and electrolytes. and perform a variety of other tasks. genital region and around nipples. open things. peel fruit. soles. Ruffini’s’ corpuscles are tubular-shaped nerve endings that register heat. • Apocrine glands become active at puberty and are present in the axillae (armpits). Pain is registered through the skin through many free nerve endings. have a greater concentration of sensory receptors and are therefore more sensitive to touch. Certain areas of the body. urea and peptides). Unlike eccrine glands which secrete sweat made up mostly of water. aid in grasping and picking up small objects. and flushes microorganisms and harmful chemicals from the skin. ___________________________________________________________________________ . pick away the outer layers of other edibles. Apocrine sweat glands essentially serve as scent glands. and in the case of fingernails.20 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . As such. Nails have no nerve endings. undo knots. and very minute amounts of fatty materials. due to the bacteria that break down the organic compounds in the sweat from these glands. lips. 25 Nails also give clues about many internal conditions and skin problems and therefore can be used as diagnostic tools. The Pacinian corpuscles are the largest nerve endings and register deep pressure and vibration. such as the palms. or more precisely: the sweat already present in the tubule is squeezed out. Krause’s end bulbs are round nerve endings that register cold. 24 • Nails Nails on the fingers and toes serve to protect. Emotional stress increases the production of sweat from the apocrine glands. Fingernails help humans to scratch things. the same material hair is composed of. The solids are half inorganic salt (mostly sodium chloride) and organic compounds (amino acids.

Clues the nails provide Abnormality Appearance Internal Condition Beau’s lines Horizontal grooves correspond to periods of severe illness Pale nails Color is pale to very pale white Sometimes be a sign of serious illness.21 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . This chart is derived from: Leffell. brittle nails that frequently crack or split have been linked to thyroid disease.htm ___________________________________________________________________________ . such as: • • • • Anemia Congestive heart failure Liver disease Malnutrition Splinter hemorrhages Small dark brown or rust flecks Anemia Red lunula Red discoloration in front of the cuticle Congestive heart failure Clubbing Curving of the nail with thickening of the fingertip Liver disease Spoon nails Inward curving of the nails to resemble a spoon Malnutrition Double white lines Transverse white lines that move out as the nail grows. malnutrition Yellow nails the nail is yellow and there may be thickening in the nail bed or the nail may be raised Fungal infection Rippled nails Rippling or pitted Early sign of psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis Cracked or split nails cracked and split Dry. Cracking or splitting combined with a yellowish hue is more likely due to a fungal infection. they occur in pairs Liver disease.com/ nail_health_pictures_slideshow/article.medicinenet. 2000 and http://www.

It varies in thickness and is made up of clumps of fat-filled cells. and elastic areolar (areolar tissue is loose connective tissue that consists of a meshwork of collagen. J. elastic tissue. 1161-1162) ___________________________________________________________________________ . It is due to this different structure in fatty tissue which makes women more prone to cellulite in the thigh area. England: Churchill Livingstone. a shock absorber and cushion for the vital organs. At the same time. and reticular fibers .22 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . Tidbit fact: The hypodermis is the site of subcutaneous injections using hypodermic needles. called adipose cells. It also houses a network of arteries that form capillaries that branch into the dermis layer.. (Extracted from: Pizzorno. the uppermost part of the subcutaneous tissue is thinner and has a network of criss-crossing connective tissue walls. that give the body smoothness and contour. the fatty tissue is composed of large ‘standing fat-cell chambers’. the connective tissue is also breaking down or thinning which is the main instigator in the development of cellulite and is responsible for the ‘mattress phenomenon’. or tissue between the subcutaneous and dermal layers. called the hypodermis or subcutaneous layer.E. a storage area for energy. In women. the corium. T. In women. vegetable/seed oils such as sesame oil can be very beneficial for the nails. with two planes of connective tissue (ground substance) between them. pg. however. Connective tissue fibers connect the hypodermis to the reticular layer of dermis.with many connective tissue cells in between the meshwork of fibers). (1999). & Murray. In men. London. The basic construction of these layers differs between male and female. The subcutanea fat lies on the muscles and bones. the corium becomes progressively thinner and looser which allows fat cells to migrate into the dermal layer of the skin. The hypodermis layer serves as: a stabilizer for the skin.Taking care of the nails Along with a healthy diet and nutritional supplements/vitamins. Textbook of Natural Medicine. The Hypodermis or Subcutanea Below the dermis is the third layer of the skin. and an effective insulator. to which the whole skin structure is loosely attached by connective tissue. The Subcutanea and Cellulite of the thighs The subcutanea of the thighs have three layers of fat. Also. I have noticed that the more I have integrated sesame oil into my daily life as a skincare oil the healthier and stronger my nails have become. which are separated by radial and arching dividing walls of connective tissue anchored to the overlying connective tissue of the skin (corium). is actually thicker in men than women.

28 The majority of skin penetration enhancement techniques are currently being focused on increasing the transport of drugs across the stratum corneum rather than through the appendages. and menthone. These mechanisms include: disruption of the intercellular bilayer lipid structure. In relation to essential oils and the skin. piperitone. interaction with the intracellular proteins of the stratum corneum. Alcohols: alphaterpineol. Essential oil constituents that have been found to increase dermal penetration of drugs include: Hydrocarbons: d-limonene. The lipid-proteinpartitioning theory. anise. depression. elimination of multiple dosing schedules. Alzheimer’s disease. thus enhancing patient compliance. via the hair follicles and sebaceous glands (collectively called the shunt or appendageal route). cardiovascular disease. Ketones: carvone.26 Currently the worldwide market revenues for transdermal products are US$3 billion with an annual projected growth of 12%. essential oils. or directly across the stratum corneum. blood pressure control. According to several research studies. pain management. coenhancer. 29 I have included this information not so much because it is directly relevant to the application of aromatherapy by the average aromatherapists. hormone replacement therapy.Essential oils as novel skin penetration enhancers There is increasing interest in essential oils as novel dermal penetration enhancers by the pharmaceutical industry. and urinary incontinence are all at various stages of formulation and clinical development. post-menopausal bone loss. and pain relief (for chronic pain). as developed by Barry and coworkers (1989-1991) describe the mechanisms by which enhancers effect skin permeability. for example. predictable and extended duration of activity. ketones and cyclic ethers were most effective accelerants of 5-fluorouracil (a drug used in the treatment of cancer) permeation. Parkinson’s disease. beta-carene. but rather to gain insights into the depth of potential applications for essential oils. and essential oils of ylang ylang. female sexual dysfunction. Oxides: 1. The advantages of transdermal drug delivery include: bypassing gastrointestinal incompatibility and hepatic ‘first pass’ effect. and reversibility of drug delivery by removal of drug source. research ___________________________________________________________________________ .8 cineole. and eucalyptus. anxiety. Transdermal delivery systems are currently available for motion sickness. Transdermal products for cardiovascular disease. alpha-pinene. reduction of side effects due to the optimization of the blood concentration-time profile.23 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . terpinen-4ol and carvol. or cosolvent into the stratum corneum. and others. smoking cessation. attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). skin cancer. and improvement of partitioning of a drug. Transdermal drug delivery is defined as the controlled release of drugs through intact and/or altered skin to obtain therapeutic levels of a drug systematically and to affect specified targets for the purpose of. patient-activated/patient modulated delivery. in particular terpenes. pulegone. Alcohols. increase diffusivity of drugs within the stratum corneum by disrupting the intercellular lipid barrier and by opening new polar pathways within and across the stratum corneum.27 Drug molecules in contact with the skin surface can penetrate by three potential pathways: through the sweat ducts.

studies have shown that the application of German chamomile essential oil in a gel base increases transdermal permeation and absorption of water.24 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes . thereby increasing hydration in the skin.30 ___________________________________________________________________________ .

/Chapter %2015%20Nails_tcm101-36904. Retrieved October 2. Dry Skin .htm 17 Pugliese. 1839-1844. Acta Derm Venereol. E-medicine. 3 IBID. 6 Funnel.: Radcliffe Publishing Company. Brown Publishers. Seagle MB.wayne.. Orlow S. (1995).html 12 Wertz. 1996. 2012 from: http://lpi. Nursing Standard.oregonstate.edu/asg/ dendritic.edu/infocenter/ skin/EFA/index. Pugliese. J.html 7 Voegeli D.. May 2005.pd. P. Skin changes. Brandle I. Carol Stream. 9 Bensouilah. 1996. (2000). IL: Allured Publishing Corp. Supplement. U.K. (2000). Supp 208: 7-11.. Lipids and barrier function of the skin. 11 Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Health.com/2011/10/20/intro-to-fatty-acids-and-triglycerides/ Other References Howard. (2002). Peter T. Physiology of the Skin. 13 De Haven C.yale. Human Anatomy and Physiology. Carol Stream.. Supp 208: 7-11. (2007). 2012 from: dermatology. D. P. 2006 [cited 7 March 2006]. pathophysiology and therapy in deficiency of essential fatty acids.7. Z Hautkr 63: 290-301. 22.biosci. Carol Stream.emedicine. REFERENCES 1 Van De Graaff. (2006) The Importance of maintaining hydration for skin barrier health. Nails. Physiology of the Skin. Leffell.Resources for learning more Intro to Fatty Acids and Triglycerides http://rdfeinman. Aromadermatology. and Buck. Wm. IL: Allured Publishing Corp. England: Foramicus. (1988). (2007) Dry Skin. and Grosshhans E. The role of emollients in the care of patients with dry skin. Skin and Allergy News.. Skin anatomy [online].25 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes .wordpress. LLC. 5 Kusmirek. Retrieved on June 5. Physiology of the Skin. (2000). P and Downing D T. P. Acta Derm Venereol. and Waldorf H A. Abingdon. Job’s Body. What is a dendritic cell?. Lipids and barrier function of the skin. D. 1996. Peter T.. R. 2005 from: http://cmmg. Liquid Sunshine. 2 Juhan. J.com/plastic/topic389. K M and Fox S I. Leffell D. Les Nouvelles Esthetiques.It’s a sure thing. D. C. Peter T. 8 Wertz. 14 Truchetet E. 62-68.edu/. Retrieved on May 15. (nd). Available from URL: http://www. (1987). IL: Allured Publishing Corp. Journal of Lipid Research Volume 31. 1990.. (2006). New York: Station Hill Press. Glastonbury. ___________________________________________________________________________ . 16 Revis DR. 4 Pugliese. 15 Tharp M. Science of Skincare. 10 Wertz. (1990) Metabolism of linoleic acid in porcine epidermis.

25 http://www. Current Drug Delivery.28a.2. Current Drug Delivery. C. H. Transdermal Drug Delivery: Penetration Enhancement Techniques.23-33. Dermato-Endocrinology..A. Transdermal Drug Delivery: Penetration Enhancement Techniques. 19 Ikomi F and Schmid-Schonbein G W. Wm.29 24 Van De Graaff. 29 Thong. Vol 3:1. 2. Zhai. New York: Station Hill Press. Epidermal surface lipids._merocrine. (2009). D.18 Juhan. H. (1995). Zhai. Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2007.a. and Maibach.A. Lymph transport in the skin. A. Vol 1:2 23 (http://en. 30 Harris.. (1995). Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2007.2. Job’s Body. and Maibach. (1987). Human Anatomy and Physiology. Vol 1:2 21 IBID.htm 26 Thong. 22 Pappas. Epidermal surface lipids. Percutaneous Penetration Enhancers: An Overview.E. 28 Benson. International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy.Y. ___________________________________________________________________________ . K M and Fox S I. (2009).. H. H.org/wiki/Human_Physiology/Integumentary_System#Eccrine_.23-33. Brown Publishers. Dermatology and wound care: excerpts from the Essential Oil Research Database.26 © The East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies and Jade Shutes .E. A. H. Elsevier Science. 20 Pappas. Dermato-Endocrinology.k. Percutaneous Penetration Enhancers: An Overview. H. H.20:272-282.wikibooks. H.I.20:272-282. 2005.Y. 27 Benson.com/why-do-we-have-fingernails-and-toenails.wisegeek. (2006).. 2005. B.I.