What role does skin play in the immune system?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Skin, the largest organ of the body, is a formidable barrier to infection. Not only does the skin function as an impressive physical obstacle, but like the walls of a castle, it's also an unfriendly environment for many microbes. The skin's surface is slightly acidic and some areas are quite dry; neither condition suits many microbes, which like moisture and a less acidic environment. In addition, the skin's already populated by good soldiers: bacteria that call skin "home," effectively hanging out a "No Trespassing" sign for others.

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Immune System

Immune System

Immune and lymphatic system health is necessary for protecting your body from germs and diseases. Known as the body's first line of defense, your immune system and lymphatic system help protect you from bacteria, viruses and fungi ...

that cause disease. Your lymphatic system produces and carries white blood cells containing antibodies that fight off infection. Your lymphatic system transports and destroys dead or damaged cells and cancer cells, removing these substances from the blood stream. Problems with your immune and lymphatic system can result in various diseases. A weakened immune system can lead to diseases including cancer, the flu and chronic fatigue syndrome. An overactive immune system can lead to diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS), Huntingdon's disease and lupus. Allergies occur when your immune system mistakes harmless substances for threats and attacks these harmless substances.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.