The biggest organ in the body is skin. How do we keep it looking good, young and healthy? Dr Joe Kosterich talks about the functions of skin and how to look after your skin.

Now, today, we’re going to be talking about the body’s biggest organ and how to keep it looking good, young and healthy.

Hi, I’m Dr. Joe.

Now, you’re probably wondering what is the biggest organ in the body. It’s not the brain. It’s not the heart. It’s not the liver. It’s actually the skin.

Some of you might be thinking, “Hang on, is the skin an organ of the body?” Yes, it is. The skin [link to skin anatomy page] has a lot of functions, which includes temperature regulation because you sweat through the skin; the skin breathes to some degree, not the same as your lungs but it does breathe; and it performs a lot of other functions that are important for the body, including getting rid of some toxins through sweat.

Skin is also the part of our body that’s the most obvious to us because it covers all of the body. Included in the skin, of course, are the appendages to the skin like hair and nails.

Now, because the skin is external as opposed to internal we do think a little bit more about its appearance. If our liver was on the outside, we might think a little bit more about that extra drink. If our heart was on the outside, we might think a little bit more that extra donut. But of course, they’re internal – we don’t see them.

Skin, of course, is something that everybody sees and most people like to keep it looking good so they can appear looking nice, to their friends and family, and of course for those who are single for potential partners.

So what can you do? It’s skin, not that difficult!

It comes down to basics. Your skin, as the biggest organ in the body is also a reflection of all the other organs in the body. So, somebody who is 60 but looks like 80 might not be looking after themselves as well as somebody who’s 50 but looks like 30.

What does the skin need? You need to be eating right. Not too much junk food. Sounds obvious but it’s really important. Plenty of fruits and vegetables and lots of water to drink. Skin doesn’t need fizzy soft drinks but it does need lots of water to keep it hydrated. When skin gets a little bit dry, starts to shrivel up almost a little bit like a leaf shrivels up when it’s dry. So, drinking plenty of water and eating the right foods is important.

Getting a little bit of sunshine: now we don’t want you going out and getting burnt and getting skin cancer, but a little bit of sunshine is important. About 5 up to 15 minutes a day in winter, maybe a little bit less in summer and obviously not in the middle of the day. Get too much sun, the skin will dry out and obviously burn and you can get worse than that, get too little and it also gets a little bit too pale. So get the right amount.

Making sure you’re getting enough sleep. One of the first signs that people are tired can be the eyes look a bit droopy and the skin looks a little bit saggy as well. So get a good 8 hours of sleep per night.

Getting a little bit of relaxation and down time is important, as well.

Doing some regular exercise, keeping the tone in the muscles. If the muscles start to go a little bit floppy then the skin will start to have folds and creases as well. So it is important to do regular exercise, both your cardio or aerobic-type exercise, and a little bit of weight or resistance-type exercise.

Laughing and smiling: keeping the muscles of the face active is important and we obviously don’t do any weight lifting for our facial muscles, but laughing uses a lot more muscles than crying does. So it’s good to be having a laugh and a smile, that helps with your facial muscles.

In addition to that, there’s various creams and lotions, traditionally best being the domain of women, but a lot of the guys are playing catch up and the men’s cosmetics is one of the fastest growing product fields. You’ve got to choose what’s right for you, I’m not a beautician so we can’t really advise you on that one. Also, a lot of creams these days might have an SPF or some protection factor and it’s good to use those, particularly if you’re out and about and especially in the warmer months.

Other things that people like sometimes are to sit in the sauna or the steam room or, again, a little bit of relaxation at the same time.

Ok, so looking after your skin really comes down to the basics. It’s not that difficult. Eating right, plenty of fruits and vegetables, making sure you’re getting enough water to drink, getting some sleep and relaxation, some exercise, laughing and smiling everyday, and possibly some creams or lotions according to what you need.

Your skin is the biggest organ in the body, you want to be looking after it. It’s fairly simple. Do that and it’ll keep you looking the way you want to look.

More information on What to eat for healthy skin 

More information on Looking after your skin in winter

More information on How smoking affects skin health

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