Skin: Facts, Diseases & Conditions

Live Science | 3/11/2016 | Staff
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The human body's largest organ is the integumentary system, which includes the skin, hair, nails, glands and nerve receptors.

Skin weighs about 6 lbs. (2.7 kilograms) and sheds itself about once every 27 days, according to the Cleveland Clinic. In adults, skin covers a surface area of 18 square feet (1.7 square meters), according to the University of Pennsylvania Health System (Penn Medicine).

System - Cushion - Body - Infection - National

The integumentary system works to waterproof, cushion and protect the body from infection, according to the National Institutes of Health. Most skin is waterproof because of keratin, a fibrous protein, and it also is made up of water, other proteins, lipids and different minerals and chemicals.

Skin excretes wastes, regulates temperature and prevents dehydration by controlling the level of perspiration. It also houses sensory receptors that detect pain, sensation and pressure.

Skin - Body - Defense - Bacteria - Viruses

The skin is also the body's initial defense against bacteria, viruses and other microbes. Skin and hair provide protection from harmful ultraviolet radiation, and the skin guards against sunburn by secreting melanin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Human skin color is determined by the interaction of melanin, carotene and hemoglobin.

Storage of water, fat, glucose and vitamin D is also a function of the integumentary system, according to the AAD.

Skin - Layers - Tissue

Skin is composed of several layers of tissue.

Human skin is composed of three layers of tissue: the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Epidermis - Layer - Skin - Blood - Vessels

The epidermis is the top layer of skin and does not contain blood vessels. While it is only about one-tenth of a millimeter thick, the epidermis is made of 40 to 50 rows of stacked cells called squamous cells or keratinocytes, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Keratinocytes produce keratin, a fibrous, waterproofing protein. The majority of the skin on the body is keratinized, meaning it's waterproof, with the exception of the lining of skin...
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