What Are the Functions of the Skin Pore?

Written by kittie mccoy
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What Are the Functions of the Skin Pore?
(Public domain photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Skin pores are tiny holes in the skin located all over the body that allow sweat and oil to be released onto the surface of the skin. Skin pores may or may not be easily visible depending on the individual's pore size and the condition of the skin.

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Types

Pores are the tiny openings located on the surface of the skin of both oil and sweat glands. Sweat glands are known as sudoriferous glands while oil glands are called sebaceous glands.

Identification

Pores appear as tiny dots along the skin's surface. They may be more visible on some parts of the body and can vary in size from one individual to the next. Pores of sebaceous glands contain a hair follicle while the pores of sudoriferous glands do not.

Function

Pores of sudoriferous (sweat) glands allow sweat to reach the surface of the skin and regulate the body's temperature. As the sweat or perspiration emerges from the pore, it evaporates upon contact with the air and causes the skin to cool. An inability to perspire properly is known as hypohidrosis or anhidrosis. It can be life threatening due to the increased risk of heatstroke and other heat-related conditions as a result of the body's inability to regulate temperature. The sebaceous (oil) glands produce oil that helps to remove dead skin cells and keeps the hair, skin and nails healthy. The oil produced in the sebaceous glands is released onto the surface of the skin through the pores.

Conditions

The most common condition affecting pores is acne. Acne is caused by clogging of the pores of sebaceous glands with dirt, debris, dead skin cells or due to an overproduction of oil. This clog results in a papule which is a small, raised bump on the skin more commonly known as a pimple. Pimples may be topped with a white or black head. While unsightly and sometimes uncomfortable, acne is not life threatening nor detrimental to a person's overall health.

Misconceptions

The size of skin pores is determined by heredity and it is a common misconception that pores can be shrunken by various skin products. Another common misconception is that hot water will open pores while cold water closes them. However, pores can be made to appear smaller by using an alcohol-based astringent to reduce oiliness and therefore minimise light reflection on the skin. This will make the pores look smaller when they are actually the same size.

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