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The integumentary system is the organ system that protects the body from damage, comprising the skin and its appendages (including hair, scales, feathers, hoofs, and nails). The integumentary system has a variety of functions; it may serve to waterproof, cushion, and protect the deeper tissues, excrete wastes, and regulate temperature, and is the attachment site for sensory receptors to detect pain, sensation, pressure, and temperature. In most terrestrial vertebrates with significant exposure to sunlight, the integumentary system also provides for vitamin D synthesis.
The integumentary system is the largest of the body's organ systems. In humans, this system accounts for about 12 to 15 percent of total body weight and covers 1.5-2m2 of surface area. It distinguishes, separates, and protects the organism from its surroundings. Small-bodied invertebrates of aquatic or continually moist habitats respire using the outer layer (integument). This gas exchange system, where gases simply diffuse into and out of the interstitial fluid, is called integumentary exchange.
The human skin (integumentary) is composed of a minimum of 3 major layers of tissue: the epidermis; dermis; and hypodermis. The epidermis forms the outermost layer, providing the initial barrier to the external environment. Beneath this, the dermis comprises two sections, the papillary and reticular layers, and contains connective tissues, vessels, glands, follicles, hair roots, sensory nerve endings, and muscular tissue. The deepest layer is the hypodermis, which is primarily made up of adipose tissue. Substantial collagen bundles anchor the dermis to the hypodermis in a way that permits most areas of the skin to move freely over the deeper tissue layers.
This is the top layer of skin made up of epithelial cells. It does not contain blood vessels. Its main function is protection, absorption of nutrients, and homeostasis. In structure, it consists of a keratinized stratified squamous epithelium comprising four types of cells: keratinocytes, melanocytes, Merkel cells, and Langerhans' cells. The major cell of the epidermis is the keratinocyte, which produces keratin. Keratin is a fibrous protein that aids in protection. Keratin is also a water-proofing protein. Millions of dead keratinocytes rub off daily. The majority of the skin on the body is keratinized, meaning waterproofed. The only skin on the body that is non-keratinized is the lining of skin on the inside of the mouth. Non-keratinized cells allow water to "stay" atop the structure.
The protein keratin stiffens epidermal tissue to form fingernails. Nails grow from thin area called the nail matrix; growth of nails is 1 mm per week on average. The lunula is the crescent-shape area at the base of the nail, this is a lighter color as it mixes with the matrix cells.
The dermis is the middle layer of skin, composed of dense irregular connective tissues such as collagen with elastin arranged in a diffusely bundled and woven pattern. These layers serve to give elasticity to the integument, allowing stretching and conferring flexibility, while also resisting distortions, wrinkling, and sagging. The dermal layer provides a site for the endings of blood vessels and nerves. Many chromatophores are also stored in this layer, as are the bases of integumental structures such as hair, feathers, and glands.
Also called the hypoderm, subcutaneous tissue, or superficial fascia and the bottom layer of the integumentary system in vertebrates (hypoderm and subcutaneous are from Greek and Latin words, respectively, for "beneath the skin"). Types of cells that are found in the hypodermis are fibroblasts, adipose cells, and macrophages. It is derived from the mesoderm, but unlike the dermis, it is not derived from the dermatome region of the mesoderm. In arthropods, the hypodermis is an epidermal layer of cells that secretes the chitinous cuticle.
The integumentary system has multiple roles in homeostasis. All body systems work in an interconnected manner to maintain the internal conditions essential to the function of the body. The skin has an important job of protecting the body and acts as the body’s first line of defense against infection, temperature change, and other challenges to homeostasis. Functions include:
Possible diseases and injuries to the human integumentary system include: