Lymph nodes, sweat glands, melanocytes, pores and all – your skin is a wonderful and magical thing! It seals in moisture, holds everything together, and helps regulate your body temperature within an extremely narrow safe range.
Your skin is also a major player in eliminating unwanted substances, chemicals, and toxins from the body and this is where sweat glands and lymph nodes come in, but what’s the difference between the two and what do they do to keep skin naturally healthy?
Four Million Sweat Glands!
You’ll find your sweat glands and lymph vessels in the layer of the skin called the dermis, which sits just below the outermost layer of skin called the epidermis. There are four million sweat glands in the average human body, with most of these in our palms and the soles of the feet.
When we get overheated these sweat glands open up and secrete water and other substances. It is the evaporation of this water than helps cool us down and controls body temperature.
Why Dehydration Damages Skin
Dehydration can quickly lead to an accumulation of metabolic waste and toxins in the dermis as there is not enough water to flush these out through sweat. As dehydration is also damaging to skin cells and their ability to maintain defences against free radical attacks, the accumulation of toxins is doubly deleterious. Have you drunk enough water today?
Lymph Nodes – What Do They Do?
In contrast to our abundant sweat glands, the lymph vessels in our skin do not open out directly onto the surface and so do not excrete substances from the body directly. Instead, the vast network of lymph vessels drains excess fluid between cells and deals with potential bacterial and viral threats to the body. There is no central pump to circulate lymphatic fluid, as there is with blood – lymph fluid relies on the regular contraction and relaxation of muscles during daily activities to squeeze and push it around the body.
Lymph vessels move lymphatic fluid around the body, between lymph nodes and back into a central, larger vessel near the heart that drains into a large blood vessel. Moving neutralised microbes and immune system cells around is not the only function of the lymphatic system. These lymph vessels also transport fats and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K and B12) around the body after absorption in the gut, as well as bringing oxygen to cells and tissues through lymphatic fluid.
What is Lymphatic Drainage
Lymph fluid is a mix of white blood cells (leukocytes), fats, water and proteins. Dehydration, excess dietary fat (particularly saturated fat found in abundance in animal products), and inadequate protein can all contribute to a sluggish lymphatic drainage system. This results in poorer immune system function, swollen lymph nodes, and skin issues, such as acne, from toxic build-up.
When the body is infected by bacteria or another organism the invader is trapped in the lymph nodes, which become enlarged, in order to concentrate the attack from the immune system. As the infection is killed by immune system cells the dead organisms are flushed through the lymphatic system to be eliminated. Lymph nodes remain swollen for a short period after infection as the concentration of white blood cells and other immune system components gradually reduces.
Keeping Skin Healthy, Naturally
Repeated infections can occur due to poor skin hygiene and problems with the immune system such as impaired zinc status, offering an opportunity for improved skin health through diet and external skin care. Staying hydrated, well nourished, and getting regular exercise so as to encourage healthy sweating and proper flow of lymphatic fluid are all key to achieving naturally healthy skin.