Skin in Health and Disease

Some Topics

  • Skin Design

    Skin is composed of the skin itself and supporting tissue (hypodermis). There are two skin layers: the epidermis is surface layer, one-tenth of a millimeter thick. It is the first barrier preventing invasion of foreign microbes and substances. The epidermis is a multilayered keratinized squamous epithelium. Keratinocytes produce keratin, the proteins that form the most exterior skin layer (horny layer). Keratinocytes gradually migrate from deeper layers to the skin surface and are shed.

    The dermis below is a complex tissue made of collagen fibers, sweat glands, hair roots, nerve cells, nerve fibers, blood and lymph vessels. Cone-shaped loops of collagen fibers rise as papillas into the epidermis linking the two layers of skin. Beneath the dermis is the sub cutis, a layer of loose, chamber-structured connective tissue and fat.

    Skin Glands

    There are two types of sweat glands, eccrine and apocrine. There are about 3 million eccrine sweat glands that have a tubular shape and are found all over the body. About 3,000 sweat glands per square inch are found in the palm of the hand. The secretory base of the gland lies below the dermis in the subcutaneous tissue. A duct follows a spiral course through the dermis to the skin surface. An adult secretes a minimum of 100 ml sweat each day; heat exposure, and work increase sweat production to a maximum of 10 liters per day. The most important function of sweat production is body cooling. Water evaporation requires heat taken from the skin, cooling the skin surface. Sweating under the arms is suppressed by antiperspirants containing aluminum salts.


    Hair is produced in hair follicles by cells at the base of each hair. Follicular cells are added to the hair fiber and become compressed and molded as the hair root moves up the follicle. The shape of the follicle determines whether the hair will be straight or curly. As more cells are added, the hair fiber is pushed up and out and keratinized. By the time the hair emerges from the follicle all the cells are dead. The cells layers are a cortex, or core, surrounded by the cuticle. There may be a hollow center or medulla.

    Hair follicles secrete keratin proteins that form the main structure of hair. Exposed hair is a non-living product of cells just as nails are non-living products. Hair follicles extend from the base of the dermis and emerge through openings in the dermis. The papilla cells are a stem cell pollution that create all the structures of the hair follicle. Hair growth is periodic; the papillary cells at the base of the germinal matrix at the base of the hair follicle take rests between periods of active hair growth. Germinal matrix cells in the papilla grow into the lumen of the external root sheath. The root of the hair becomes detached from its matrix and gradually moves up the follicle, attaching for a time to the external root sheath. The deep part of the external root sheath grows downward again to cover the old papilla, which becomes rejuvenated, or a new one develops. Sebaceous glands sit adjacent to the hair follicles and secrete sebum into the follicle supplying an oily coating for the hair as it emerges from the follicle.

    Skin Color

    Skin color is developed by melanocytes, cells that produce the brown/black pigment, melanin in the basal cell layer of the epidermis. Melanocytes form long finger-like protuberances (dendrites) which grow into and through the neighboring keratinocytes. UV light simulates biosynthesis of melanin that occurs in melanosomes, components of the melanocytes that fill with melanin as they move to the periphery of the cell and into the dendrites, filling up originally colorless skin cells (keratinocytes) with pigment. Melanin absorbs UV radiation and protects other skin structures from damage. Hence, sun exposure increases melanin production. Humans who have lived in sunny locations on the planet have dark skin, and humans who lived in cold dark zones lost most of their skin pigmentation. Paradoxically, white skin people often want to become tanned and dark skinned people often want to become lighter. White skin is often interrupted by patches of pigmentation, described as freckles, moles and nevi.

    There are many variations in skin pigmentation and some skin lesions are pigmented. A surface fungal infection, for example, will change skin color paradoxically and is called tinea versicolor. Dark skin becomes lighter and light skin becomes darker. Sometimes a single application of Nizoral shampoo, painted on with cotton tipped applicator to cover the affected skin will kill the fungus.

    Skin Ecology

    The skin is a meeting place for many characters in an ecological drama that unfolds every day. Numerous little animals live on the skin, mostly peacefully. Pimples erupt in most people regularly and reveal the presence of microorganisms that are always ready to take advantage of the host and invade. The pimple is also evidence of immune cells that patrol below the skin surface. An inflammatory bump is full of immune cells and the chemicals they secrete. The pustule is made of immune cells and micro-organisms that died in battle. The animals that live on the skin are mostly bacteria, some fungi and some mites. Viruses invade the skin and live inside skin cells, often disrupting cell growth. A wart is an expression of abnormal growth in virus-infected skin cells. Herpes viruses infect skin cells, but invade nerve cells that innervate the skin. They travel to the nerve cell body where they remain resident for the lifetime of the infected host.
    Herpes virus travels down neuron axons from time to time invading and killing skin cells. Herpes eruptions are local interactions between immune cells and infected skin cells that display viral antigens on their surface and are killed by killer lymphocytes and eaten by macrophages.

    Nutrients and problems arrive at the skin from inside through the blood stream. Immune cells travel in the blood and enter the skin whenever they are needed. When immune cells enter skin, they often take over and produce an inflammatory response that causes the skin to swell, itch, burn, and turn red. A hive is a prototype of immediate allergic or immune-mediated skin inflammation. Usually a hive is a brief event that resolves spontaneously Foreign molecules arrive from the blood and trigger mast cells that are patrolling the deep layers of the skin. The mast cells release histamine and other chemicals that cause the inflammation. The foreign molecules are ingested as food or drugs
  • Skin in Health and Disease

    is a book about skin health and skin care that offers solutions to specific skin disorders. The good news for many suffers some chronic skin disorders is that complete diet revision will often improve and sometimes resolve skin symptoms. This book focuses on the most common skin disorders that can be controlled by changes in skin care, diet and the environment. Eczema, for example, is sometimes an expression of food allergy, or allergy to contact materials. Dermatologist may deny the food allergy causes, so that their patients often have to make independent decisions. In all aspects of medicine, we advocate responsible self-management and offer this book as primer and reference for self-managers with skin problems.

    The book, Skin in Heath and Disease is intended to be used with the Alpha Nutrition Program. This text provides background knowledge, helpful in understanding skin disorders and the relevance of diet revision. Often a food holiday on Alpha ENF is the best way to begin recovery and the Alpha Nutrition program is an ideal way to design a safer, healthier long-term diet. If diet revision is appropriate to solve your Skin Disorders, you can order the the Starter Pack Option.

    We recommend diet revision to people with

    1. Moderate to severe eczema
    2. Persistent or recurrent hives of more than 4 weeks duration
    3. All skin disorders associated with digestive disorders.
    4. All skin disorders associate with inflammatory arthritis
    5. All skin disorders associated chronic ill-defined illnesses.
    6. Dermatitis Herpetiformis
    7. Moderate to Severe Psoriasis

    Starter Packs bundle the Alpha Nutrition Program, with other books and formulas to help you get started solving your health problems. The starter packs are sold at discounts to make it easier and affordable for you to learn more and try our nutrient formulas.

    Order Starter Pack

    All Alpha Nutrition Books, Formulas and Starter Packs are ordered at Alpha Online. Physical shipments by the Post Office to all destinations in Canada and the USA. eBooks are downloaded and can be delivered to any destination on the planet. Click the Download button to order and download PDF files from Alpha Online.

    Alpha Online is a hub for twenty five Medical Information Centers. Each center acts as its own web site with a home page and a list of links to relevant topics. Take advantage of 800 pages of text which describe common medical problems and introduce you to innovative solutions such as Alpha ENF and the Alpha Nutrition Program.

    Alpha Nutrition is a trademark and a division of Environmed Research Inc., founded in 1984 at Vancouver, BC, Canada. Online Since 1995.
    Experts in Self-Managed Care. Experts in Elemental Nutrient Formulas. Head Office is located in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia.
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