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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Identify the components of the integumentary system
  • Describe the layers of the skin and the functions of each layer
  • Identify and describe the hypodermis and deep fascia
  • Describe the role of keratinocytes and their life cycle
  • Describe the role of melanocytes in skin pigmentation

Although you may not typically think of the skin as an organ, it is in fact made of tissues that work together as a single structure to perform unique and critical functions. The skin and its accessory structures make up the integumentary system    , which provides the body with overall protection. The skin is made of multiple layers of cells and tissues, which are held to underlying structures by connective tissue ( [link] ). The deeper layer of skin is well vascularized (has numerous blood vessels). It also has numerous sensory, and autonomic and sympathetic nerve fibers ensuring communication to and from the brain.

Layers of skin

This illustration shows a cross section of skin tissue. The outermost layer is called the epidermis, and occupies one fifth of the cross section. Several hairs are emerging from the surface. The epidermis dives around one of the hairs, forming a follicle. The middle layer is called the dermis, which occupies four fifths of the cross section. The dermis contains an erector pilli muscle connected to one of the follicles. The dermis also contains an eccrine sweat gland, composed of a bunch of tubules. One tubule travels up from the bunch, through the epidermis, opening onto the surface a pore. There are two string-like nerves travelling vertically through the dermis. The right nerve is attached to a Pacinian corpuscle, which is a yellow structure consisting of concentric ovals similar to an onion. The lowest level of the skin, the hypodermis, contains fatty tissue, arteries, and veins. Blood vessels travel from the hypodermis and connect to hair follicles and erector pilli muscle in the dermis.
The skin is composed of two main layers: the epidermis, made of closely packed epithelial cells, and the dermis, made of dense, irregular connective tissue that houses blood vessels, hair follicles, sweat glands, and other structures. Beneath the dermis lies the hypodermis, which is composed mainly of loose connective and fatty tissues.

The skin consists of two main layers and a closely associated layer. View this animation to learn more about layers of the skin. What are the basic functions of each of these layers?

The epidermis

The epidermis    is composed of keratinized, stratified squamous epithelium. It is made of four or five layers of epithelial cells, depending on its location in the body. It does not have any blood vessels within it (i.e., it is avascular). Skin that has four layers of cells is referred to as “thin skin.” From deep to superficial, these layers are the stratum basale, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, and stratum corneum. Most of the skin can be classified as thin skin. “Thick skin” is found only on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. It has a fifth layer, called the stratum lucidum, located between the stratum corneum and the stratum granulosum ( [link] ).

Thin skin versus thick skin

Part A is a micrograph showing a cross section of thin skin. The topmost layer is a thin, translucent layer with irregular texture and areas where cells are sloughing off. The deepest layer is dark purple and extends into the third layer with finger like projections. The third light purple layer contains thin bands of fibers and small, dark cells. The fourth, and deepest layer, is darker than the third layer, but is still light purple. It contains thick fiber bands that are loosely packed. Part B is a magnified view of the epidermis of thick skin. It shows the topmost layer is five times thicker than the topmost layer of thin skin. The topmost layer of thick skin is also denser and less translucent than the topmost layer of thin skin.
These slides show cross-sections of the epidermis and dermis of (a) thin and (b) thick skin. Note the significant difference in the thickness of the epithelial layer of the thick skin. From top, LM × 40, LM × 40. (Micrographs provided by the Regents of University of Michigan Medical School © 2012)

The cells in all of the layers except the stratum basale are called keratinocytes. A keratinocyte    is a cell that manufactures and stores the protein keratin. Keratin is an intracellular fibrous protein that gives hair, nails, and skin their hardness and water-resistant properties. The keratinocytes in the stratum corneum are dead and regularly slough away, being replaced by cells from the deeper layers ( [link] ).

Epidermis

The outer layer of cells in this micrograph is the thinnest layer and stained deep purple due to full keratinization of dead cells. The next layer occupies one quarter of the micrograph, is lightly stained, and is a dense collection of cells. The third layer from the top is mostly white, with lightly stained, loosely-packed strands radiating in random directions. The bottom-most layer is densely-packed, with thick bands of highly organized muscle tissue that are darkly stained.
The epidermis is epithelium composed of multiple layers of cells. The basal layer consists of cuboidal cells, whereas the outer layers are squamous, keratinized cells, so the whole epithelium is often described as being keratinized stratified squamous epithelium. LM × 40. (Micrograph provided by the Regents of University of Michigan Medical School © 2012)

Questions & Answers

life circle of RBC and the life circle of WBC.
Yemi Reply
RBC 120days
Zeph
RBC 120days and WBC 10-12days
sai
what is anatomy?
Md Reply
positive feedback mechanism
Sirimala Reply
what is immunology
Riya Reply
immunology is a branch of medicine that study's the body immune system
SAMUEL
Immunology This is the study of specific and non-specific resistance of the body against infection i.e. the study of the immune response of a host to a foreign substance, which includes study of various reactions which are induced in the body by introduction of a substance.
Kaluki
what is role of elimination need like fluid and also stools
Munmun Reply
bone
Vijay
what is joint pain
Vijay
is the physical suffering caused by illness or injury of the joint
malulu
pls can someone describe shock,types ,pathophysiology and treatment
Isaac
this is what I'm thinking "After taking out everything the body needs, the bowel then expels the leftover waste."
isaiah
I think elimination also helps in the continuation of the digestive system because if the unwanted fluids and stools does not come out of the system it can create a problem in the digestive. system resulting in diseases.
Martha
shock is a condition whereby the circulating system is unable to get enough blood and oxygen to vital organs like the brain,heart,eye,kidney and others.
Martha
causing depression of those organs.
Martha
there are 2 classification of shock. primary shock: this occurs immediately after injury due emotional stimulus or pain.example hearing a bad news,sudden obstruction of airway.sudden heart attack. secondary shock :it occurs when primary shock is delayed
Martha
types of shock syncope (faint) oligaemic or hyppvovaemic shock. Anaphylactic shock. neurogenic/ physical shock septic sock catdiogenic shock.
Martha
What is the difference between dna duplication and chromosomes duplication?
to help you identify the human body parts to help you live a healthy life the study of Anatomy helps one to work in any health sector
sophia Reply
okay.
what is the function of the mitochondrial in the cell
Vida Reply
define and explain the synovial membrane
Mahmudu Reply
What is cloning?
Jesam Reply
relationship between anatomy and physiology
Ranjeeta Reply
anatomy is the structure and physiology is the function
Isaac
the branches of physiology
Asiedu Reply
is single DNA arranged into 46 chromosomes
Vaishnavi Reply
don't know about it
Sachin
no it is duble strand or pair of chromosomes
Marta
how does muscle contraction work?
Matthew
no,it is arranged as 23 pairs chromosomes
Ajiola
what are the parts of a cell?
Noel Reply
cell body, nucleus, cytoplasm, endoplasmic reticulum (rough and smooth), Golgi apparatus, cell membrane and organelles.
Heather
cell membrane, cell wall,cytoplasm, nucleus, etc
Felix
explain how skeletal muscles work
Felix
they work voluntarily
Trina
46 chromosomes present in which part of human body
Anar
when twins born how both of them carry 46 chromosomes
Anar
In the nuclear membrane
wisdom
but thiere r many cells n definetely cells have many nuclear membrane
Anar
cytoplasm plasma membrane nucleus
Ajiola
nucleus cytoplasm epr spr mitochondria
sureshbabu
cell have many parts and it act as different function s
sureshbabu
lysosome, golge body, cytoplasm, smooth endoplasmic reticulum
Vida
what is sex with male and female!
Muhammad Reply
intercourse
Jessie
sexual intercourse
Jessie
for formation of new generation
Sunil
sex is a female and male body courtship, rubbing of penis and vagina which results in release of fluids (sperm) from male in to the vagina of the female know as ejaculation
CHUOL
sex is a body courtship, penis and vagina rubbing which results in release of fluids sperm)
CHUOL
how sure a u?
Pius
it's like copulation
Pius

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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