Skin: The Human Body's Largest Organ (2023)

By Kim Ann Zimmermann

published

Skin: The Human Body's Largest Organ (1)

Skin is more than a fleshy surface for pimples, tattoos and wrinkles. Skin is the body's largest organ, and along with hair, nails, glands and nerves, is part of the integumentary system, according to Oregon State University. This system acts as a protective barrier between the outside and the inside of the body.

In adults, skin accounts for about16 percent oftotal body weightand covers a surface area of approximately 22 square feet (2 square meters).

There are different thicknesses and textures of skin on different parts of the body. For example, skin is paper-thin underneath the eyes, but is thick on the soles of the feet and palms of the hand, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library.

Three layers of tissue

Human skin is composed of three layers of tissue: the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Epidermis

The epidermis is the top, visible layer of skin and it's constantly being renewed as dead skin cells are shedon a daily basis. The main functions of the epidermis include:

  • Making new skin cells. New skin cells form at the bottom of the epidermis. As these newer cells form, it takes them about one month to reach the top layer of the epidermis. The new cells will replace the old cellsfound on the skin surface, which are dead and continuously flake off.
  • Giving skin its color. The epidermis contains melanocytes, which are cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Melanin is also responsible for suntans and freckles.
  • Protecting skin. Keratin, a protein made by cells found in the epidermis, gives skin its toughness and strength, and protects skin from drying out.

Dermis

The dermis is the middle layer of skin, found underneath the epidermis. It is the thickest layer of skin and contains nerves and blood vessels. It is also home to the sweat glands, oil glands and hair follicles. The dermis gives skin its flexibility and strength, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. It is made up mostly of a protein called collagen that makes skin stretchy and strong.

According to the National Library of Medicine, the roles of the dermis include:

  • Sensing pain and touch. Nerve endings in the dermis contain receptors that transmit sensations, such as pain, pressure, touch, itchiness and temperature to the brain.
  • Producing sweat and oils. Sweat glands help to cool the body, and sebaceous glands make the oils that keep skin soft and moist.
  • Growing hair. Hair follicles found in the dermis grow the hair on your head, face and body. That hair also helps to control body temperature and protect the body from injury.
  • Bringing blood to the skin. Blood vesselsfound in the dermis nourish the skin and help control body temperature. When skin becomes too hot, blood vessels enlarge to release heat from the skin's surface, while cold constricts blood vessels so they retain body heat.
  • Fighting infection. Lymphatic vessels, which drain fluid from the tissues and are an important part of the immune system, are housed in the dermis. They help ward off infections and other harmful substances.

Hypodermis

(Video) What is the largest organ of the body?

The hypodermis — also called subcutaneous fat — is the deepest layer of skin. This layer is made up mostly of fatty tissue, which helps to insulate the body from heat and cold. The hypodermis also serves as an energy storage area for fat. This fat provides padding to cushion internal organs as well as muscle and bones, and protects the body from injuries, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library.

Common skin conditions

Dermatologists are physicians who specialize in treating diseases, disorders and injuries of the skin, hair and nails. They treat common conditions such as acne and warts; chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis;and more serious diseases like skin cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology(AAD).

Warts and moles

Warts are benign(noncancerous) growths on the skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), according to the AAD. They often occur on the hands and soles. Sometimes, tiny black dots will be visible in a wart.

"These are blocked blood vessels, which are a common occurrence with a papilloma viral infection," said Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield, a clinical professor of dermatology at theUniversity of Minnesota Medical School, and medical director ofCrutchfield Dermatology.

The best treatment for wartsis to cause a mild irritation of these skin growths — usually by freezing them, applying a chemical such as salicylic acid or using lasers — so the immune system can recognize the viral infection and get rid of it.

Moles are another type of common growth on the skin. They're most often brown or black, but some can be red or skin-colored, and they may appear flat or raised. If a mole starts changing in size, color or shape, or if it bleeds and doesn't heal on its own in three weeks, it should be evaluated to make sure it's not turning into skin cancer, Crutchfield said.

Acne and eczema

Acne, a disorder of the hair and oil glands, is among the most common skin conditions treated by dermatologists, Crutchfield told Live Science.

Acne occurs when hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition presents itself as red bumps and pimples on the face, chest and back, Crutchfield said. Treatments for acne include vitamin A products (retinols prevent plugging of hair follicles), salicylic acid (to unplug pores), benzoyl peroxides (to decrease bacteria) and antibiotics (to reduce inflammation).

Eczemalooks like patches of red, itchy, bumpy skin, and the most common type is known as atopic dermatitis. The condition can occur anywhere on the skin. Sometimes, it flares up on its own, and at other times, it is caused by a specific trigger, such as a skin irritant likepoison ivy, or exposure to an allergen, according to Crutchfield.

(Video) Skin - The Largest Organ of the Body

Eczema is best treated with topical anti-inflammatory creams and ointments, which can reduce itching and redness. For mild symptoms, over-the-counter medications work well, but a prescription-strength cortisone product may be needed for more severe cases.

Skin cancer

Skin canceris an abnormal growth of skin cells, and the most common type is basal cell carcinoma, Crutchfield said. More than 4 million cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the United States each year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. This type of cancer is skin colored, pink or has a slight pearly white color to it, and usually appears on sun-exposed areas of the face, ears or neck, according to the Mayo Clinic. It rarely spreads to other parts of the body, but it can be very problematicif it's not treated, Crutchfield cautioned.

The second most common type of skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. It may appear as a pink or white bump, a rough, scaly patch or a sore that won't heal, according to the AAD.

The most serious skin cancer is melanoma, which looks like a dark, changing, bleeding skin spot, Crutchfield said. This cancer begins in the skin's pigment-producing cells, and although it is the rarest form of skin cancer, it causes the majority of skin cancer deaths.

Additional resources:

This article was updated on Oct. 22, 2018 by Live Science Contributor, Cari Nierenberg.

(Video) Skin, the human body's largest organ. 20 facts about your skin!

Kim Ann Zimmermann

Live Science Contributor

(Video) Smallest and largest Organs in Human body || Anatomy Basic points ||For NEET and All Nursing Exams

Kim Ann Zimmermann is a contributor to Live Science. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Glassboro State College.

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FAQs

What is the human body's biggest organ answer? ›

The skin is the body's largest organ.

Is skin the largest organ in the human body? ›

The skin is the largest organ of the body. The skin and its derivatives (hair, nails, sweat and oil glands) make up the integumentary system. One of the main functions of the skin is protection. It protects the body from external factors such as bacteria, chemicals, and temperature.

Why is the skin the largest organ in the human body? ›

The skin is the largest and one of the most important organs the human body has. The skin forms a protective barrier between the external environment and the internal organs. Skin is strong, protective, powerful and it can heal itself.

What is the 3 largest organ? ›

Lungs are the third-largest organs in the human body.

Where is the largest organ? ›

The console of the 1932 Midmer-Losh organ at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the largest organ in the world. The console of the 1932 Midmer-Losh organ at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the largest organ in the world.

Why is skin so important? ›

Your skin is the organ that comes into contact with the rest of the world. It holds body fluids in, preventing dehydration (dee-hahy-DREY-shun), and keeps harmful microbes (MYE-krobs) out—without it, we would get infections. Your skin is full of nerve endings that help you feel things like heat, cold, and pain.

What is skin made of? ›

Skin has three layers: The epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin tone. The dermis, beneath the epidermis, contains tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands. The deeper subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis) is made of fat and connective tissue.

Why is skin not the largest organ? ›

Although skin is touted as “the largest organ of the body” the fascia, which underlays the skin directly and is also wrapped around every organ of the body, is much larger and often ignored. The fascia is the philosophy of the body, meaning it connects every organ to another organ.

What are 4 functions of the skin? ›

Provides a protective barrier against mechanical, thermal and physical injury and hazardous substances. Prevents loss of moisture. Reduces harmful effects of UV radiation. Acts as a sensory organ (touch, detects temperature).

Why skin is an organ? ›

It is sometimes considered an organ because it contains several types of tissues and a membrane and it covers the body. The skin is the largest organ of the body and includes associated organs and derivatives of the skin such as hair, nails, glands, and specialized nerve endings.

How much skin do we have? ›

There's one we wear on the outside. Skin is our largest organ—adults carry some 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) and 22 square feet (2 square meters) of it. This fleshy covering does a lot more than make us look presentable.

What is the 2nd largest organ in the body? ›

Your skin is the largest organ of your body. Did you know that your liver is the second largest? That makes it the largest solid internal organ you have, weighing in at 3-3.5 pounds.

What is the smallest organ? ›

The smallest organ is the pineal gland. It is situated centrally in the brain. It is the main site for the secretion of melatonin that controls the internal clock of the body.

Is the brain the largest organ? ›

The biggest solid internal organ is your liver, followed by your brain, lungs, heart, and kidneys.

What is the name of the organ? ›

Altogether, there are 10 large organs in the body, which include skin, liver, brain, lungs, heart, kidney, spleen, pancreas, thyroid and joints. A few of them are explained in detail below. Skin is the largest external organ of the human body.

How does skin grow? ›

The epidermis constantly renews itself: New cells are made in the lower layers of the epidermis. These move to the surface within four weeks. This constant renewal serves to replace the cells that are lost and fall to the ground as tiny flakes of skin when the skin is rubbed.

What is the oldest organ? ›

It is generally agreed upon that the organ in the church of Notre-Dame-de-Valère at Sion (Switzerland) is the oldest playable organ in the world. Its oldest parts date as far back as 1435 (+/- 1 year), but they only include most of the case and 180 original pipes from the Gothic period.

What is good for skin? ›

Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. The association between diet and acne isn't clear — but some research suggests that a diet rich in fish oil or fish oil supplements and low in unhealthy fats and processed or refined carbohydrates might promote younger looking skin.

How strong is your skin? ›

In general skin is very much strong in comparison to the paper if skin is also dry. You can see it as when skin is dried it forms leather and we all know how strong it is . But a live skin , it is not so strong and it can be easily pierced . And it is less strong than paper in resisting piercing.

What does your skin need? ›

As important as it is to eat a healthy diet, your skin also needs you to not smoke, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and drink enough water. No matter what you eat, be sure to wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day.

What is skin called? ›

The skin you can see is called the epidermis. This protects the more delicate inner layers. The epidermis is made up of several 'sheets' of cells. The bottom sheet is where new epidermal cells are made.

How thick is the skin? ›

Skin is the largest organ of the body. It has an area of 2 square metres (22 square feet) in adults, and weighs about 5 kilograms. The thickness of skin varies from 0.5mm thick on the eyelids to 4.0mm thick on the heels of your feet. Skin is the major barrier between the inside and outside of your body!

What type of cell is skin? ›

Keratinocytes (skin cells)

Why the skin is not an organ? ›

The skin is an organ because it is composed of tissues working together. The main three tissues are: The epidermis, the outermost layer of skin. The dermis, under the epidermis.

What happens if you have no skin? ›

Without skin, people's muscles, bones, and organs would be hanging out all over the place. Skin holds everything together. It also: protects our bodies.

Why skin isn't an organ? ›

By definition, an organ is a group of at least two different tissues that work together to accomplish similar functions. I know most of the people think about organs as " oh, the organs are the heart, the liver and the stomach ", but it isn't like that. The skin contains both epitelial and conjunctive tissue.

Are there 7 layers of skin? ›

Although there are seven layers, the skin contains three major sub-divisions. The outermost division of the skin is known as the epidermis. The epidermis contains five of the seven layers of skin! The other two divisions of the skin include the dermis and the subcutis.

What gives skin its color? ›

Melanin is a natural pigment that gives your skin its color. It's produced in cells called melanocytes.

What are the 3 layers of skin? ›

Skin is the largest organ in the body and covers the body's entire external surface. It is made up of three layers, the epidermis, dermis, and the hypodermis, all three of which vary significantly in their anatomy and function.

What are the 6 main functions of the skin? ›

The skin is broken up into 3 different layers, the epidermis or top layer, dermis, and subcutaneous layer. Each of these layers performs important roles in keeping our body healthy. The skin performs six primary functions which include, protection, absorption, excretion, secretion, regulation and sensation.

What are the parts of the skin? ›

Epidermis. Dermis. Subcutaneous fat layer (hypodermis)

Which organ affects the skin? ›

Your integumentary system is an organ that consists of a few main structures: skin, nails, hair and glands, along with the nerves and blood vessels that support them.

Is skin a tissue? ›

Human skin is composed of three layers of tissue: the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

How fast does skin grow? ›

In fact, your skin will regenerate itself approximately every 27 days. Proper skin care is essential to maintaining the health and vitality of this protective organ.

What do skin cells do? ›

They produce and store a protein called keratin, a structural protein that makes skin, hair, and nails tough and waterproof. The main function of the keratinocytes is to form a strong barrier against pathogens, UV radiation, and harmful chemicals, while also minimizing the loss of water and heat from the body.

› topic ›


Anatomy of the Skin

https://www.stanfordchildrens.org › topic
https://www.stanfordchildrens.org › topic
The skin is made up of 3 layers. Each layer has certain functions: Epidermis. Dermis. Subcutaneous fat layer (hypodermis). Epidermis.

Human skin

https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Human_skin
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Human_skin
The human skin is the outer covering of the body and is the largest organ of the integumentary system. The skin has up to seven layers of ectodermal tissue guar...
The epidermis consists of several layers The topmost layer consists of dead cells that shed periodically and is progressively replaced by cells formed from the ...

Which is the largest and smallest organ in human body? ›

Which is the largest organ in the human body?
...
Pineal gland:
  • The smallest organ is the pineal gland.
  • It is situated centrally in the brain.
  • It is the main site for the secretion of melatonin that controls the internal clock of the body.

Is the brain the largest organ? ›

The biggest solid internal organ is your liver, followed by your brain, lungs, heart, and kidneys.

Is muscle the largest organ in the body? ›

Abstract. Skeletal muscle is the largest organ in the body. Skeletal muscles are primarily characterized by their mechanical activity required for posture, movement, and breathing, which depends on muscle fiber contractions.

Which is the biggest bone in the human body? ›

The femur is one of the most well-described bones of the human skeleton in fields ranging from clinical anatomy to forensic medicine. Because it is the longest and strongest bone in the human body, and thus, one of the most well-preserved in skeletal remains, it makes the greatest contribution to archaeology.

Which is the largest cell? ›

The largest cell present in the human body is the ovum. It is one millimeter in diameter.

What is the name of the organ? ›

Altogether, there are 10 large organs in the body, which include skin, liver, brain, lungs, heart, kidney, spleen, pancreas, thyroid and joints. A few of them are explained in detail below. Skin is the largest external organ of the human body.

What's the second largest organ in the body? ›

Your skin is the largest organ of your body. Did you know that your liver is the second largest? That makes it the largest solid internal organ you have, weighing in at 3-3.5 pounds.

What is skin made of? ›

The skin is the body's largest organ, made of water, protein, fats and minerals. Your skin protects your body from germs and regulates body temperature. Nerves in the skin help you feel sensations like hot and cold.

Why skin is an organ? ›

It is sometimes considered an organ because it contains several types of tissues and a membrane and it covers the body. The skin is the largest organ of the body and includes associated organs and derivatives of the skin such as hair, nails, glands, and specialized nerve endings.

Is the hair an organ? ›

Hair. Hair is an accessory organ of the skin made of columns of tightly packed dead keratinocytes found in most regions of the body.

Why is skin not the largest organ? ›

Although skin is touted as “the largest organ of the body” the fascia, which underlays the skin directly and is also wrapped around every organ of the body, is much larger and often ignored. The fascia is the philosophy of the body, meaning it connects every organ to another organ.

How does skin grow? ›

The epidermis constantly renews itself: New cells are made in the lower layers of the epidermis. These move to the surface within four weeks. This constant renewal serves to replace the cells that are lost and fall to the ground as tiny flakes of skin when the skin is rubbed.

Is blood an organ? ›

Blood is considered a type of connective tissue (sometimes). However, an organ is formed of multiple different tissues. Thus, blood is a tissue, not an organ.

Which is the smallest bone? ›

The stapes is the smallest bone in the human body.

Are teeth a bone? ›

Teeth and bones look similar and share some commonalities, including being the hardest substances in your body. But teeth aren't actually bone. This misconception might arise from the fact that both contain calcium. More than 99 percent of your body's calcium can be found in your bones and teeth.

What is skull made of? ›

The skull is made up of cranial bones (bones that surround and protect the brain) and facial bones (bones that form the eye sockets, nose, cheeks, jaw, and other parts of the face). An opening at the base of the skull is where the spinal cord connects to the brain. Also called cranium.

› news › health › 2022/09/24 ›

Your body has over 70 different organs. Is skin an organ? Is it the biggest organ? We answer those simple yet complex questions on human anatomy.

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