The integumentary system consists of the skin, hair, and nails. On the broadest scale, this system supports immune function and regulates homeostasis, as it constitutes the body’s first line of defense against things that would disrupt its delicate balance and registers external stimuli through sensor receptors that communicate touch, pain, and pressure.
With a surface area averaging 18 square feet, the skin is the largest organ of the body. It has two layers: the inner layer is called the dermis. The epidermis, or outer layer, consists of several strata that produce keratin, which gives strength and elasticity to the skin, melanin, which gives it its color; Merkel’s cells, which facilitate touch reception; and Langerhans’s cells which produce antigens to support the immune system. And as a living organ, deep-level cells continually divide and push older cells to the surface to be worn off — millions every day! — leaving behind a new epidermis every five to seven weeks.
The skin protects the internal organs, guards against infection, regulates temperature change and hydration levels through perspiration, and stores water, fat, and glucose. It excretes waste, generates vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet light, and secretes melanin to protect against sunburn. It also has the capacity to form new cells to repair minor cuts and abrasions.
Since skin, hair, and nail health are an outward reflection of overall wellness inside the body, it is important to focus on detoxing, cleansing, and supplementing vital nutrition to the cells and internal organs in addition to essential oil applications that can easily target the area of concern.
How can Essential Oils Support the Integumentary System?
Natural solutions are very effective and can be used as a first line of support for integumentary health. Keep in mind that natural solutions can be used safely together with professional health advice. Many essential oils that are beneficial for integumentary support are diverse in the number of health topics they can impact. Some oils are more obvious choices such as lavender and geranium, with their marvelous soothing properties. Other oils target more of the underlying systems. For example, birch oil is great used in ointments, creams, and compresses, especially for distressed skin. There are a diverse number of oils and solutions that can be realized.