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ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY OF THE SKIN

Functions of the Skin:


Skin is a sensory organ that acts as the first line of defense
Has 6 major functions
o Protection
Trauma
Infection
Excessive loss of fluids and proteins
Mechanical injury
Immune cells: Langerhans cells, tissue macrophages, and mast
cells
Pigmentation: protects against UV radiation
Melanin protects against UV-A
o Sensation
Filled with nerve endings
Nerve fibers follow dermatome pattern
o Thermoregulation
Involves: nerves, blood vessels, and glands
When skin is exposed to cold or internal body temperature
drops: blood vessels constrict, blood flow is reduced, and heat
is conserved
When the skin gets too hot: arteries dilate, blood flow and
sweat production increases and allows body to cool
o Eliminate Waste products / Excretion
Excretion of waste products, electrolytes, and water assist with
thermoregulation
2 million pores
Adult loses 500mL of water through the skin everyday
o Vitamin D production / Metabolism
Skin synthesizes Vitamin D when exposed to the sun
Assists in the mineralization of bones and teeth
Vit D is then transmitted to other areas of the body
o Social Interaction
Closely linked to aspects of body image, physical attraction,
and communication
Damage to skin can have functional, physiologic, or
psychosocial effects

Layers of the Skin:


Epidermis
o Thin outermost layer of skin
o Functions:
Barrier to water loss
Protects against mechanical damage, chemicals, and pathogens
Continually regenerated (every 21-28 days) from basal cell
layer
Sheds the outermost cell layer during hand washing
o 5 layers:
Corneum touch outer-layer of skin with acid basement
Lucidum only present when corneum is thick
Granulosum contains langerhans cells
Spinosum several layers of spine-like progections from the
basal level
Basale only layer with ability to regenerate
o Did you know?
The epidermis contains the cells responsible for skin
pigmentation called melanocytes
Dermis
o Thickest layer
o Strong structural matrix
o Composed of three major protein fibers
Collagen & Elastin
Provide support
Determine the skins physical characteristics
Collagen
Located in papillary layer of the dermis
Nonelastic
Give dermis high tensile strength
70% of the skins dry weight is composed of collagen
Elastin
Interact with collagen in lower dermis and epidermal
margin
Allows skin to remain pliable
Enables extensibility in the dermis
Reticular
o Consists of: blood vessels, nerves, hair, nail, and skin glands
o Supplies support and nutrition to epidermis
o Regulates heat, immune response, and receptors for pain an cold
o
o Appendages found here
Hair
Nails
Grow indefinitely
Keratin
Glands
Sebaceous found on scalp, face, upper body, and
genital
o Produce sebum
Apocrine sweat gland
o Axilla, perineum, and genitals
Eccrine
o Found throughout the body
o Connect to skin through pores
o Help with thermoregulation
Subcutaneous (Adipose) Tissue
o What is it?
Composed of adipose CT
Located beneath dermis
Houses major vessels, lymphatics, and nerves
o What does it do?
Insulates from heat and cold
Absorbs shock
Caloric reservoir used during sickness or starvation
Thins with aging
Fascial Layer
o What is it?
Tough but flexible layer
Consists of fiber creators
o What does it do?
Connects subcutaneous and above layers to muscle
Muscle Tissue
o What is it?
High metabolic demand
Sensitive to reduced blood flow
o What does it do?
Keeps muscles moving by absorbing oxygen
Did you know?
o One centimeter of skin contains:
15 sebaceous glands
3 yards of vessels
100 sweat glands
3000 sensory cells
4 yards of nerves
300,000 epidermal cells
10 hair follicles

Maintaining Skin Integrity


What does skin need?
o To maintain homeostasis:
Keratinization
Continuous pH
Equalization of the water content of epidermis
What alters skin integrity?
o Age
At birth: skin and nails are thin (thicken with age)
Adolescence: hormones stimulate increased activitiy of
sebaceous glands and hair follicles (acne is normal)
Adulthood: skin thins and the formation of lines and wrinkles
being (new cell production slows)
o Sun overexposure:
Dry, tough skin
Increases risk of skin cancer
Wrinkling and irregular pigmentation
Thickening of epidermal cells
Dilated dermal vessels
Reduction of Langerhans cells by 50%
o Soaps / Cleansers
Excessive use can reduce skins water-holding ability
Soap emulsifies and removes lipid coating of skin
Alkaline soaps reduce thickness and number of cell layers in
corneum
Alkaline soap increases skins pH change ability to resist
bacteria
o Nutrition
Protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, and minerals all help maintain
skin
Damaged skin requires increased dietary intake for repair and
restoration
o Medication
Corticosteroids interfere with epidermal regeneration and
collagen synthesis
Antibacterial, oral steroids, and hormones alter flora
Analgesis, antihistamines, and NSAIDs alter inflammatory
reactions
o Disease / Illness
Arteriosclerosis, venous insufficiency, HTN, obesity, and DM
affect circulation, interfere with nutrition, and oxygenation
Diminish bodys ability to transport leukocytes and
macrophages
Skin integrity is also altered by immobility, incontinence, and
increases body temperature