The integumentary system includes organs and structures such as the skin, hair, nails, glands, and nerves.The primary function of the integumentary system is to serve as a barrier between the inside of the body and elements in the environment like bacteria, pollution, and UV rays from the sun. It also helps retain bodily fluids, eliminate waste products, and regulate body temperature.
Anatomy of the Integumentary System
The integumentary system includes:
- Exocrine glands
- Sensory nerves
The skin is the largest and heaviest organ of the body. To function as a protective barrier, it must cover the entire outside of the body, from the top of a person’s head to the end of the toes. The skin is approximately 2 mm (0.079 inches) thick and in its entirety weighs nearly 6 pounds.
Although there may be some differences in the skin from one person to another (such as the color, texture, and thickness), all skin has a few primary similarities.For example, every person’s skin is comprised of different types, including:
- Thick and hairless: Located on body parts that are frequently used and involve a lot of friction (such as the soles of the feet and palms of the hands).
- Thin and hairy: The most predominant type of hair on the body, located everywhere, except areas covered by thick and hairless skin.
Layers of the Skin
There are two layers of the skin:
- The epidermis: The outer layer of the skin that makes up its strong protective covering.
- The dermis: Located under the epidermis; most of the structures of the skin are located in the dermis (such as various types of glands and hair follicles).
The fatty layer of the skin is a layer of subcutaneous (under the skin) tissue, also known as the hypodermis.The fatty layer serves many different functions, including:
- Providing a cushion for the skin
- Storing fuel for the body (in the form of fat cells)
- Insulating the body, helping to maintain its stable temperature
Hair serves to:
- Help protect the skin
- Regulate body temperature
- Lend itself to the evaporation and perspiration process
- Help with the nerve sensing functions of the integumentary system
Hair is primarily comprised of a fibrous protein and contains a very small amount of lipids (fats) and water.Hair comes from follicles, which are simple organs made up of cells called epithelial cells. Epithelial cells are the cells that line the organs and function to provide a protective barrier.
Just like other body parts, nails consist of several segments, including:
- The nail plate: The part of the nail that is visible.
- The nail bed: The skin that lies beneath the nail plate.
- The cuticle: The thin line of tissue that is located at the base of the nail and overlaps the nail plate.
- The nail folds: The folds of the skin located on the sides of the nail plate.
- The lunula: The white-colored half-moon-shaped area located at the base of the nail plate.
- The matrix: Part of the nail that is not visible, located underneath the cuticle, this is the area responsible for the growth of the fingernail.
The function of the nail is:
- Protection: Protects the fingers and toes from injury or trauma.
- Sensation: Assists with the sense of touch.
The integumentary system has four types of exocrine glands, which secrete some type of substance outside the cells and body.
The four exocrine glands associated with the integumentary system include:
- Sudoriferous glands: Sweat glands that are hollow, cylindrical structures under the skin; they excrete sweat via very small openings at the skin’s surface.The purpose of sudoriferous glands is to emit perspiration to help cool the body off when the body temperature rises.
- Sebaceous glands: Very small tubular-shaped glands, located in the dermis, which are responsible for releasing oil into the hair follicle to help lubricate and protect the hair shaft, keeping it from becoming hard and brittle.
- Ceruminous glands: Located in the ear canal, ceruminous glands function along with sebaceous glands to produce ear wax (medically coined cerumen).Cerumen is important in its role as a protective mechanism, keeping foreign invaders (such as bacteria and fungus) at bay and guarding the ear against any type of physical damage.
- Mammary glands: There are two mammary glands located one at each side of the front of the chest wall.Both men and women have mammary glands, but in men, these glands are underdeveloped.In females, the glands function to produce breastmilk after giving birth. The mammary glands are semicircular in shape in young females, but later the glands begin to lose their shape.A single mammary gland weighs about 500 to 1000 grams (1.1 to 2.2 pounds).
Function of the Integumentary System
Overall, the integumentary system functions to guard the body, providing a barrier to infection and shielding the body against temperature changes and the adverse effects of potentially harmful substances (such as UV light).
The integumentary system has many specific roles in its involvement in helping to protect and regulate the body’s internal functions. Here are some ways that the skin, nails, hair, glands, and nerves of the integumentary system work:
- Helps to protect the body’s tissues and organs
- Protects against infections and foreign invaders
- Keeps the body from becoming dehydrated (by storing water)
- Helps to maintain a stable body temperature
- Transports and gets rid of waste materials
- Performs a receptor job for pressure, pain, heat, cold, or touch
- Stores fat for a source of energy
- Protects the body from trauma and serves as a shock absorber (due to the fatty layer of the integumentary system)
- Protects the skin from damage caused by UV light from the sun (and other sources)
Protection From Injury
The skin is made up of a very tough type of protein called keratin that is the primary type of skin in the outermost layer, the epidermis.
Keratin helps protect tissues, organs, and structures from injury, like:
Fatty Layer Protection
The fatty layer of the skin helps protect against trauma to the underlying tissues and organs by serving as a shock absorber, buffering some of the impact of sometypes of injuries (such as those caused by blunt force).
Protection Against Infection
The skin creates an acidic pH environment in which microorganisms find it difficult to grow, therefore protecting from infection.
Protection With Sweat
Sweat from the sweat glands prevents an overgrowth of microorganisms on the skin by producing a substance called dermcidin, which is an anti-infective agent that has natural antibiotic properties.
Many different types of microorganisms encounter the skin, but these organisms are not able to penetrate healthy skin. However, when a cut or other injury that causes an opening in the skin occurs, the organisms on the skin are no longer harmless as they enter the skin’s barrier.
This may trigger the skin’s inflammatory response.The inflammatory response prompts the transportation of white blood cells and other cells—called macrophages—that engulf the invading organisms.
Protection Against Ultraviolet Rays
Not only does the skin provide a very strong barrier against infections in the body, but it also prevents damage to the body from certain harmful substances, such as ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun (or other sources, such as tanning beds).
The skin responds to UV rays by producing the pigment melanin in cells called melanocytes. If overexposure to the sun occurs, inflammation occurs and the skin becomes reddened and flushed in response to dilatation of the blood vessels in the dermis.As melanin is produced, the skin begins to tan; the melanin absorbs the UV light, preventing damage to the DNA of the cell.
How Hair Protects Your Skin
One study found that hair also provides a barrier against both UVB and UVA radiation. The study discovered that the more thickness and density a person’s hair was, the more protective the hair was in providing a better barrier against UV radiation.
Maintenance of Body Temperature
One of the most important functions of the skin is to help maintain the body’s core temperature.
The center in the brain that helps regulate temperature—called the hypothalamus—prompts skin changes in response to a change in the body’s internal temperature.
The vast blood supply in the skin can help regulate temperature; as the blood vessels dilate, it allows for heat loss.When the vessels constrict, heat is retained.This process lends itself to the regulation of the body’s core temperature.
Sensory nerves are abundant in the top layer of the skin (the epidermis); these nerves transmit feelings of:
- Other sensations experienced by the skin
Sign of Malfunctioning Sensory Nerves
When sensory nerves in the skin malfunction, the result is often a tingling feeling or a burning sensation.
The dermis contains nerve endings and an array of touch receptors. This allows the dermis to detect sensations such as pressure, heat, cold, and contact.
The nerve endings in the dermis detect sensations, and thus play a role in the protection of the skin, by sounding an alarm when the skin is exposed to things such as a potential burn.
Skin metabolism is the rate at which new skin cells turn over; this occurs between the epidermal and dermal cells that work together to regulate collagen production and repair UV light damage, aging, and other damage caused to the skin.
The skin is responsible for excreting various substances, including:
- Small amounts of carbon dioxide
- Waste products (such as excess sodium chloride and urea)
The skin has been found to absorb many substances.
A study published by the American Journal of Public Health found that the skin absorbed 64% of the total contaminants found in regular tap water. The skin will absorb some types of medications including:
- Glyceryl trinitrate (to treat angina)
- A wide range of other topical medicine applications
Medications that are given topically (via the skin) should be massaged into the skin and covered with an occlusive dressing for optimal absorption.
The skin also stores some substances, including:
- Water, which is absorbed and stored in the skin
- Nutrients, such as vitamin D
Interactions With Other Systems
The integumentary system is very active in working with other organ systems to maintain the body’s overall balance (called homeostasis). Examples of how the skin helps each body system maintain homeostasis include:
The skin interacts with the body’s immune system in many ways to protect the body from infection, serving as a physical barrier to disease-causing microorganisms.
The skin synthesizes vitamin D (from exposure to the sun) therefore providing this vital nutrient to the digestive system.Vitamin D is required to absorb calcium and the skin works with the digestive system to ensure that calcium can be properly absorbed.
The skin works with the cardiovascular system by helping to conserve or release heat by constricting or dilating the blood vessels.
The skin functions to transmit sensations from the environment via its nerve receptors. The nerve impulses (such as the perception of pain, heat, cold, and other sensations) are then transmitted to the nervous system to be interpreted by the brain.
Vitamin D synthesis—which takes place in the skin—promotes calcium absorption.Calcium is needed for the growth and maintenance of bones, as well as for muscle contractions.
The endocrine system involves the body’s hormones. Vitamin D—produced by the skin–can act as a hormone in the body. Some hormone imbalances can have an adverse effect on the skin.
The small hairs in the nose (which are part of the integumentary system) act as a filter to remove harmful particles which may otherwise be inhaled into the lungs.
The skin functions to excrete waste products (such as salts and some nitrogenous wastes) into the sweat; this helps the kidneys maintain the body’s proper balance of electrolytes as well as maintaining the normal pH balance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the functions of the skin?(Video) Where do our nails and hair come from? | Integumentary system physiology | NCLEX-RN | Khan Academy
The skin serves multiple functions. It acts as a barrier to protect the body, helps to regulate body temperature, gathers sensory information, and assists the immune system. Each of the three layers of skin exist to maintain these processes.
Learn More:The Individual Layers of Skin and Their Functions
Which organs make up the integumentary system?
The organs that make up the integumentary system include skin, hair, nails, glands, and sensory nerves. The system's primary function is to protect the body from harm, but it also assists in other ways, such as in waste product elimination and retaining important bodily fluids.
What do the sudoiferous glands do?
The sudoiferous glands, also called sweat glands, exist to keep the body cool. When body temperature increases, it causes the sweat glands to secrete sweat from the skin's surface and cool off the skin. This process is known as perspiration.
What is the importance of vitamin D synthesis in the epidermis?(Video) Accessory Structures of the Skin: Hair, Nails & Glands
Vitamin D synthesis (production) occurs when sunlight is absorbed by the epidermis, the outer layer of skin. Since few foods contain vitamin D, sun exposure is the main natural way that people get vitamin D.
What body system is skin hair glands and nails? ›
The integumentary system is the largest organ of the body that forms a physical barrier between the external environment and the internal environment that it serves to protect and maintain. The integumentary system includes the epidermis, dermis, hypodermis, associated glands, hair, and nails.What are the 3 glands of the integumentary system? ›
There are four types of glands in the integumentary system: sudoriferous (sweat) glands, sebaceous glands, ceruminous glands, and mammary glands.What are the 4 types of glands in the integumentary system? ›
Four types of exocrine glands within human skin—Sweat, sebaceous, ceruminous, and mammary glands. Sweat glands, are further divided into eccrine and apocrine glands. Eccrine glands are distributed throughout the body and primarily produce serous fluid to regulate body temperature.Does the integumentary system includes the skin hair and nails? ›
The integumentary system is an organ system consisting of the skin, hair, nails, and exocrine glands. FUN FACT: The skin is the largest organ of the human body! It accounts for about 15% of your body weight, and the average person has about 300 million skin cells.What are 5 functions of the integumentary system? ›
- Helps to protect the body's tissues and organs.
- Protects against infections and foreign invaders.
- Keeps the body from becoming dehydrated (by storing water)
- Helps to maintain a stable body temperature.
- Transports and gets rid of waste materials.
One of the most important functions of the integumentary system is temperature regulation. The skin connects and interacts with other body systems in order to balance and maintain homeostasis. The skin specifically helps in regulating the body temperature by regulating the blood vessels present in the dermis.What are the 2 glands found in the skin? ›
Sweat glands and sebaceous glands present in the human skin. The sweat glands produce a watery secretion and open on to the skin to help control the body temperature and works as an insulator.What are the 4 skin glands and what are their functions? ›
- Sudoriferous glands: These are the glands that secrete sweat through your skin. ...
- Sebaceous glands: These glands produce sebum (oil) and give your face its oil.
- Ceruminous glands: These are the glands in your ear that secrete ear wax.
- Mammary glands: These are the glands on a person's chest.
Eccrine sweat glands occur over most of the body and open directly onto the skin's surface. Apocrine glands open into the hair follicle, leading to the surface of the skin.What are the 5 major glands? ›
The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and pineal gland are in your brain. The thyroid and parathyroid glands are in your neck. The thymus is between your lungs, the adrenals are on top of your kidneys, and the pancreas is behind your stomach.
What are 7 major glands? ›
The major glands of the endocrine system include the pineal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, hypothalamus and adrenal glands.What are the 6 major glands? ›
- pineal body.
- the ovaries.
- the testes.
It comprises the skin, hair, nails, and glands that produce sweat and oil. These tissues work together to protect the body from infection and injury and regulate bodily processes. The skin is the first line of defense against the outside world and is responsible for keeping the internal organs safe and healthy.What systems does the integumentary system work with? ›
The skin and other parts of the integumentary system work with other organ systems to maintain homeostasis. The skin works with the immune system to defend the body from pathogens by serving as a physical barrier to microorganisms. Vitamin D is needed by the digestive system to absorb calcium from food.What are 6 important functions of the skin? ›
The skin is broken up into 3 different layers, the epidermis or top layer, dermis, and subcutaneous layer. Each of these layers performs important roles in keeping our body healthy. The skin performs six primary functions which include, protection, absorption, excretion, secretion, regulation and sensation.What are the 8 main functions of the integumentary system? ›
- Thermoregulation 2. protection 3. ...
- Sweat 2. adjusting blood flow. ...
- when cold. blood vessels constrict.
- when hot. blood vessels dialate.
- blood capillaries 2. papillary region. ...
- Keratin. helps protect the skin from abrasion.
- Lipids. stops evaporation and water entry.
- sebaceous glands. moisturizes skin and kill surface bacteria.
What is the are the 7 functions of the Integumentary System? Protection, eliminating waste, maintaining body temperature, response to touch sensation, absorption, produces vitamin D, stores energy and fat.What is skin made of? ›
What is the skin? The skin is the body's largest organ, made of water, protein, fats and minerals. Your skin protects your body from germs and regulates body temperature. Nerves in the skin help you feel sensations like hot and cold.What is the meaning of integumentary? ›
Definition of integumentary
: of or relating to an enveloping or external layer or covering (as of skin, hair, scales, feathers, or cuticle) of an organism or one of its parts the integumentary system Were there whiskers, filaments or other integumentary structures on the snout and elsewhere?—
First, the innervated skin is a crucial barrier protecting the body from danger from the “external environment.” Cutaneous nerves also respond to stimuli from the circulation and to emotions (“internal trigger factors”).
What are the 3 types of glands? ›
- Merocrine glands are the most common subtype. ...
- Apocrine glands, in contrast, form buds of the membrane which break off into the duct, losing part of the cellular membrane in the process.
The skin is the largest organ of the body. The skin and its derivatives (hair, nails, sweat and oil glands) make up the integumentary system. One of the main functions of the skin is protection. It protects the body from external factors such as bacteria, chemicals, and temperature.Why is skin an organ? ›
I. Anatomy & Physiology
It is sometimes considered an organ because it contains several types of tissues and a membrane and it covers the body. The skin is the largest organ of the body and includes associated organs and derivatives of the skin such as hair, nails, glands, and specialized nerve endings.
The skin acts as a protective barrier from:
- Mechanical, thermal and other physical injury;
- Harmful agents;
- Excessive loss of moisture and protein;
- Harmful effects of UV radiation.
Skin has three layers: The epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin tone. The dermis, beneath the epidermis, contains tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands. The deeper subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis) is made of fat and connective tissue.What are 3 pairs of glands? ›
The three main pairs of salivary glands are the parotid glands, the sublingual glands, and the submandibular glands.How many types of glands are there? ›
A gland is an organ which produces and releases substances that perform a specific function in the body. There are two types of gland. Endocrine glands are ductless glands and release the substances that they make (hormones) directly into the bloodstream.What is skin oil made of? ›
Human sebum consists of squalene, esters of glycerol, wax and cholesterol, as well as free cholesterol and fatty acids (Table 1). Triglycerides and fatty acids, taken together, account for the predominant proportion (57.5%), followed by wax esters (26%) and squalene (12%).How do glands work? ›
Your endocrine system is made up of several organs called glands. These glands, located all over your body, create and secrete (release) hormones. Hormones are chemicals that coordinate different functions in your body by carrying messages through your blood to your organs, skin, muscles and other tissues.How many glands are in our body? ›
The endocrine system is made up of the endocrine glands that secrete hormones. Although there are eight major endocrine glands scattered throughout the body, they are still considered to be one system because they have similar functions, similar mechanisms of influence, and many important interrelationships.
What are the 4 glands in your neck? ›
The parathyroid glands are small pea-sized glands located in the neck just behind the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland. Most people have four parathyroid glands, with two parathyroid glands lying behind each 'wing' of the thyroid gland.Is Kidney a gland? ›
The kidney is traditionally regarded as an exocrine gland, producing urine to regulate body fluid volumes and composition and to excrete nitrogenous wastes. In addition to these functions, it is now recognized that a number of hormones are produced within the kidney that have local and systemic actions.What are the 5 types of hormones? ›
- Insulin. The fat-storage hormone, insulin, is released by your pancreas and regulates many of your metabolic processes. ...
- Melatonin. ...
- Estrogen. ...
- Testosterone. ...
Hormone from endocrine gland can give a positive feedback or negative feedback response. In case of positive feedback, hormone released will enhance the activity or enhance the release of same or some other hormone, This is positive feedback.Which is not a gland? ›
Description for Correct answer: Kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located at the back of abdominal cavity in vertebrates and are the organs of excretion. They perform the function of filtering the blood, removing waste into urine and balancing electrolyte levels.What are the 7 hormones? ›
- Estrogen. Estrogen is one of the key female sex hormones, but men have estrogen too. ...
- Progesterone. ...
- Testosterone. ...
- Insulin. ...
- Cortisol. ...
- Growth Hormone. ...
- Adrenaline. ...
- Thyroid Hormones.
The most important function of hair in mammals is that of insulating against cold by conserving body heat. The differing colours and colour patterns in hair coats can also serve purposes of camouflage and of sexual recognition and attraction among the members of a species.How many skin types are there? ›
The type of skin is determined by genetics, although it will also be affected by other factors and can change with time. Based on these characteristics, there are five types of healthy skin: normal, dry, oily, combination (both oily and dry skin) and sensitive.How does skin grow? ›
The cells in the epidermis grow faster in response to pressure or rubbing. The amount of skin flakes that are shed remains the same, though. As a result, the layer of hardened skin on the surface gradually becomes thicker and a callus develops.How do you say integumentary? ›
How to Pronounce Integumentary System? (CORRECTLY ... - YouTube
How does the integumentary system help maintain body temperature? ›
Sweat glands in the skin allow the skin surface to cool when the body gets overheated. Thermoregulation is also accomplished by the dilation or constriction of heat-carrying blood vessels in the skin. Immune cells present among the skin layers patrol the areas to keep them free of foreign materials.How do you take care of your integumentary system? ›
- Limit bath time. Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin. ...
- Avoid strong soaps. Strong soaps and detergents can strip oil from your skin. ...
- Shave carefully. To protect and lubricate your skin, apply shaving cream, lotion or gel before shaving. ...
- Pat dry. ...
- Moisturize dry skin.
These systems interact to defend the body. The skin acts as a barrier between the external environment and the rest of the body. It retains body fluids and defends against the entry of invaders such as viruses, bacteria and parasites.What did you learn about integumentary system? ›
The integumentary system—which is comprised of your hair, nails, and skin—protects everything inside you, acting as a barrier to keep your bones, organs, and muscles safe and sound. It's one of the many things about our anatomy we take for granted. The integumentary system is a pretty amazing structure.What are the three glands? ›
- Salivary glands.
The three main pairs of salivary glands are the parotid glands, the sublingual glands, and the submandibular glands.What are the functions of three glands? ›
- The mouth which consists salivary gland and secretes saliva.
- Stomach which consists gastric glands which secrets Gastric Juices.
- Liver and Pancreas which secretes- Bile juice and Pancreatic juices respectively.
Your endocrine system is made up of several organs called glands. These glands, located all over your body, create and secrete (release) hormones. Hormones are chemicals that coordinate different functions in your body by carrying messages through your blood to your organs, skin, muscles and other tissues.How many types of glands are? ›
A gland is an organ which produces and releases substances that perform a specific function in the body. There are two types of gland. Endocrine glands are ductless glands and release the substances that they make (hormones) directly into the bloodstream.What is digestion describe the various digestive glands of human and their functions Class 11? ›
Note: The salivary glands, liver, gallbladder, and the pancreas aid the processes of ingestion, digestion, and absorption. These accessory organs of digestion play key roles in the digestive process. Each of these organs either secretes or stores substances that pass through ducts into the alimentary canal.
Which gland is present in mouth? ›
Salivary glands are located in the mouth. There are three pairs of large salivary glands. Parotid glands are found in front of and just below each ear. Submandibular glands are below the jaw.What are the types glands? ›
Though you have many glands throughout your body, they fall into two types: endocrine and exocrine.How many glands are in the mouth? ›
These tiny glands are under the lining of your mouth and throat. Each person has up to 1,000 of them. While minor salivary glands are significantly smaller than your major salivary glands, together, they actually produce more saliva than your major glands.What is the importance of gland? ›
A gland is an organ that makes and puts out hormones that do a specific job in your body. Endocrine and exocrine glands release the substances they make into your bloodstream.Why are glands so important? ›
Endocrine glands release hormones into the bloodstream. This lets the hormones travel to cells in other parts of the body. The endocrine hormones help control mood, growth and development, the way our organs work, metabolism , and reproduction. The endocrine system regulates how much of each hormone is released.What are 7 major glands? ›
The major glands of the endocrine system include the pineal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, hypothalamus and adrenal glands.