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The Problem With Dead Skin

Posted Jan 26 2009 4:19pm

Dead Skin Cells are shed off the surface of our skin at an astonishing rate of 30,000 - 40,000 cells every minute! That amounts to about 4 kilogrammes per year. Apart from considerable dust around the house creating an ideal environment for dust mites, what potential problems can excessive dead skin cells present to our skin's health?


The human skin is a complex organ. It consists of several layers, which are involved in a range of functions, ranging from sensory perception, protection from external pathogens to temperature regulation. The skin is the largest organ of the human body and under normal conditions renews itself every 28 - 30 days. In addition to dead skin cells, the skin's surface layer is covered with fine hairs, skin pores, fine lines and more or less wrinkles.


In an earlier article, I provided a detailed description of the various functions of each of the layers that make up the skin, so I will not discuss these here. This article however, will look at the potential problems dead skin cells can cause if a good skin care regime is not followed.


Skin Structure Review


The structure of the skin is basically divided into two general layers, the dermis (link to previous article) and the epidermis. The latter is divided further into 5 layers. The layer at the very surface of the skin is called the Stratum corneum, which consists mainly of dead skin cells.


Dead Skin Cells


The body sheds dead skin cells of it's own accord, however, exfoliation through the use of skin brushes, luffah's or exfoliant skin care products, helps to stimulate new cell growth and reduces build up of dead skin cells.


So, how do dead skin cells impact the skin's health? As the dead skin cells build up on the surface of the skin, they have the potential to act as a barrier to the absorption of nutrients from nourishing creams and lotions; they also have the potential to block sweat glands, which can result in white heads, black heads or acne.


Of course you do need a certain amount of dead skin cells to cover your skin, however, it does not need to be very thick to execute it's function as an effective barrier. If the rate of skin cell production/death is higher than normal, as for example in psoriasis, the body is unable to shed old cells quickly enough for the new cells to replace them. As the new cells push their way to the surface of the skin, the old cells create a build up of dead skin, which appear as raised patches.


Under normal circumstances, every minute of the day we lose about 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells off the surface of our skin - that's about 4 kilograms per year of dead skin cells. In fact, much of the dust in a house is to a great extent comprised of our dead skin cells.


Effective regulation of dead skin cells


There are basically two reasons for using a daily skin care regime. The first is to keep the skin clean and the dead skin cell layer to a healthy minimum. The second reason is to provide the skin with nutrients and nourishment for optimum functionality.


As aforementioned, using a natural exfoliant skin care product is a great option to gently remove some of the dead skin cells and provide some nutrients at the same time.


Facial clay masks used once or twice a week provide additional nutrients and deep cleaning actions on the skin, helping to remove white heads and black heads from deep withing the skin pores.


Following the exfoliation using a cleanser to remove deep-seated dirt and stale oils from skin pores and wrinkles is a necessary next step. This is not just to remove dirt etc., but also helps to keep microbes down, as many of the natural skin cleansers utilise essential oils and herbal extracts, which are anti-septic in nature and thus help reduce the chance of skin infections.


Once the cleansing has been completed, it is time to close the pores of the skin to prevent dust and other environmental particles from entering the open pores. This is where a natural toning lotion is ideal. Being formulated to contain astringents and other nourishing ingredients, toners will prepare the skin for the final step - Moisturising.


Moisturising your skin is critical. Moisturisers provide essential nutrients for the skin and at the same time help the skin to retain moisture, preventing dehydration of the skin and acceleration of skin cell death.


Dead skin cells are a normal and necessary part of our skin, however, a good skin care regime can assist the skin in its function of shedding these dead skin cells and promote new cell growth.


People who suffer from dry and sensitive skin, or conditions such as psoriasis and dermatitis (to mention a few), generally produce more dead skin cells than under normal conditions. Removing the excessive dead skin cells will help to prevent the skin from cracking and becoming infected.


In addition, implementing a good daily skin care regime will not only help to remove excessive dead skin cells, but will provide the skin with moisture, nutrients and assist it in its defence against microbial infections.


Danny Siegenthaler is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and together with his wife Susan, a medical herbalist and Aromatherapist, they have created Natural Skin Care Products by Wildcrafted Herbal Products to share their 40 years of combined expertise with you.

They practice Herbal and Chinese medicine at their Wildcrafted Cottage Clinic.

© Wildcrafted Herbal Products 2008


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