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Largest Organ in the Body

Sonia Nair Oct 27, 2018
The largest organ in the body is the skin, which covers a surface area of around two square meters, and performs some vital bodily functions.
When it comes to the largest organ in the body, the strong contenders are the skin and the liver. While the liver is the largest internal organ, the skin is considered the largest organ, in general. However, it has been contended that the skin is not an organ.

The Skin is an Organ

An organ is defined as a part of the body that performs one or more specific functions. To be more precise, an organ is a group of tissues that perform a specific function or group of functions.
According to both these definitions, the skin is an organ. Though it is a part of the integumentary system, the skin performs certain specific functions. It is the skin that covers the whole body, and holds the internal organs in place. Apart from that, the skin protects the body, regulates body temperature, and facilitates the sensation of touch.
In case of an average adult human being, the skin covers a surface area of around two square meters. The thickness of the skin varies with location. It has a thickness of around 0.5 mm on the eyelids, and when it comes to the palms and soles, thickness of the skin is around 4 mm.
It is said that, the skin weighs around 16% of the total body weight of a human being. So, the skin weighs around 20 pounds, in an average adult. The skin weight is higher in heavier people, as compared to their skinny counterparts. It has three layers, and is elastic and sensitive in nature.

Structure and Functions of the Largest Organ in the Body

The skin consists of three main layers - epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. The outermost layer is the epidermis, which forms the waterproof layer on the surface of the body. It has no blood cells, but are nourished by the blood vessels beneath it, through the process of diffusion.
The epidermis is keratinized, and so, prevents water loss through it. It also protects the body by forming a barrier to pathogens.
Beneath the epidermis, you can find the dermis, which is mainly made of connective tissues that act like a cushion to protect the body from stress and strain. This layer of the skin houses nerve endings, which is responsible for the sensation of touch and temperature variations.
Apart from that, the dermis has sweat glands, hair follicles, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and apocrine glands. It is the basement membrane that connects the dermis with the epidermis.
The deepest layer, called hypodermis, is actually not a part of the skin. Hypodermis serves the function of attaching the skin to the muscles and bones. and also supplies blood vessels and nerves to the skin. This subcutaneous fat layer acts as an insulation for the body.
As mentioned earlier, skin has various functions, like protection of the body from disease-causing pathogens. The skin also helps in regulating the body temperature. The nerve endings inside the skin helps us in experiencing sensations of touch, pressure, heat and cold, vibration, and injury.
The skin prevents fluid loss from the body. It also helps in the absorption of small amounts of oxygen and nitrogen. It also stores water and lipids.

In short, the skin is the largest organ in the body, and it performs some vital bodily functions.