The integumentary system is the most recognizable organ in your entire body. It consists of your hair, nails, skin, sebaceous glands sweat glands, mammary glands, and more. Believe it or not, your skin is actually an organ. This makes it visible to the outside world and because of that, clinicians can determine a lot about your general health just by looking at it. The goals of your skin are to protect the rest of your body from the external environment, regulate temperature, process/sense information, synthesize nutrients for the body, and aid in the immune response process.
Within this system, there are two parts to be aware of. The first is the Cutaneous membrane. This membrane consists of the Epidermis and the Dermis. The second part of the integumentary system is the accessory structures. These structures are things like your nails, hair, sweat glands, and sebaceous glands.
The cutaneous membrane consists of two parts:
The Epidermis is the most superficial epithelium layer in the skin. This layer is the first line of defense against the surrounding environment. It helps protect organs from chemical and mechanical factors that could cause damage, controls skin permeability, synthesizes D3, prevents water loss, and houses receptors for pressure, pain, and temperature.
The Dermis layer of the cutaneous membrane is the underlying connective tissue. This layer is split into the papillary layer and the reticular layer. The papillary layer is the more superior layer that helps support the dermis and provides nourishment. The second layer is the reticular layer. This layer is deep compared to the papillary layer and helps prevent the spread of pathogens, store fat, assist with blood vessel regulation, and aid in attaching skin to deeper tissue.
Below the Dermis, there is a layer called the hypodermis. This layer is also known as the subcutaneous layer or superficial fascia. This layer, although connected with the cutaneous layer, is not usually considered to be a part of the Integumentary system.
The accessory structures of the cutaneous membrane consists of:
- Exocrine glands
- Hair follicles
Nails function to support and protect the tip of fingers and toes.
Exocrine glands are direct assistants in regulating body temperature, moisturizing and lubricating the dermis layer, and excreting waste from the body.
Hair follicles offer protection and sensations around the entire body. The hair produced on your head helps protect the skull. It also helps detect sensitive sensations around your general body.