Why describe the components and role of the integumentary system?
What do you think when you look at your skin in the mirror? Do you think about covering it with makeup, adding a tattoo, or maybe a body piercing? Or do you think about the fact that the skin belongs to one of the body’s most essential and dynamic systems: the integumentary system?
The skin functions as a sort of armor: it provides a barrier between your vital, life-sustaining organs and the influence of outside elements that could potentially damage them. As any form of armor, a breach in the skin poses a danger. The skin can be breached when a child skins a knee or an adult has blood drawn—one is accidental and the other medically necessary. However, you also breach this barrier when you choose to “accessorize” your skin with a tattoo or body piercing. Because the needles involved in producing body art and piercings must penetrate the skin, there are dangers associated with the practice. These include allergic reactions; skin infections; blood-borne diseases, such as tetanus, hepatitis C, and hepatitis D; and the growth of scar tissue. Despite the risk, the practice of piercing the skin for decorative purposes has become increasingly popular. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 24 percent of people from ages 18 to 50 have a tattoo.
Tattooing has a long history, dating back thousands of years ago. The dyes used in tattooing typically derive from metals. A person with tattoos should be cautious when having a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan because an MRI machine uses powerful magnets to create images of the soft tissues of the body, which could react with the metals contained in the tattoo dyes.
The integumentary system consists of the skin, hair, nails, the subcutaneous tissue below the skin, and assorted glands. The most obvious function of the integumentary system is the protection that the skin gives to underlying tissues. The skin not only keeps most harmful substances out, but also prevents the loss of fluids.
In the adult human body, the skin makes up about 16 percent of body weight and covers an area of 1.5 to 2 m2. In fact, the skin and accessory structures are the largest organ system in the human body. As such, the skin protects your inner organs and it is in need of daily care and protection to maintain its health. This chapter will introduce the structure and functions of the integumentary system, as well as some of the diseases, disorders, and injuries that can affect this system.
- Describe the layers of the skin and the functions of each layer
- Identify the accessory structures of the skin
- Describe the different functions of the skin
- Identify different diseases, disorders, and injuries of the integumentary system