MedlinePlus is a service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world's largest medical library, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It was built as an online health information resource for patients and their families and friends.
MedlinePlus presents high-quality, easy to understand, relevant health and wellness information that is trusted.
MedlinePlus at a Glance
- Offers information on health topics, human genetics, medical tests, medications, dietary supplements, and healthy recipes.
- Sourced from more than 1,600 selected organizations.
- Provides 40,000 links to authoritative health information in English and 18,000 links to information in Spanish.
- In 2018, 277 million users viewed MedlinePlus more than 700 million times.
What does your skin do?
Your skin is your body's largest organ. It covers the entire outside of your body. There are many ways that your skin protects your body and helps keep you healthy. For example, it:
- Holds body fluids in, which helps prevent you from getting dehydrated
- Keeps out harmful germs, which helps prevent infections
- Helps you feel things like heat, cold, and pain
- Helps control your body temperature
- Makes vitamin D when the sun shines on it
- Shields your body against heat and light
What problems and conditions can affect your skin?
There are many different problems and conditions which can affect your skin. Some of them can cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as itching, burning, redness, and rashes. They might also affect your appearance. Some of the more common skin conditions include:
- Acne, which causes pimples when hair follicles under your skin get clogged up
- Cuts and scrapes
- Dandruff, flaking of the skin on your scalp (the top of your head)
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis), which causes inflammation, redness, and irritation of the skin
- Hives, which are red and sometimes itchy bumps on your skin
- Insect bites
- Psoriasis, which causes itchy, scaly red patches
- Skin cancer
- Skin infections
How can I keep my skin healthy?
Since your skin protects your body in many ways, it's important to try to keep your skin healthy. For example, you can:
- Wear the right protective equipment, like gloves, long sleeves, knee and elbow pads, or helmets to protect against cuts, bumps and scrapes.
- If you do get a cut or scrape, clean it right away with soap and warm water. Put on a bandage to protect it while it heals.
- When you are spending time outdoors, wear long sleeves and pants and use insect repellant to prevent insect bites.
- Prevent sunburn by covering up and using sunscreen when outdoors.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- When you take a shower or bath, use warm (not hot) water. Use mild cleansers and wash gently (don't scrub).
- Use moisturizers, like lotions, creams, or ointments, to prevent dry skin.
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases