The Integumentary System : Skin, Hair, Nails, Sweat Glands, Connective Tissue
Skin & Skin Derivatives: hair, nails, sweat glands and sense receptors
The Integumentary system covers or protects the body. Its components are skin, and the skin’s derivatives: hair, nails, sweat glands and sense receptors.
The skin is the outer covering of the body. It is also the largest organ of the body; that performs many beneficial functions. For simplicity I have briefly outlined the two layers of skin:
1. Epidermis: The epidermis is the superficial, thin outer layers of skin containing many nerve endings and no blood vessels. It is made up of squamous epithelium tissue, that contain squamous, basal, Langerhan and Granstein cells.
There are many layers to the epidermis, I have briefly outlined two:
– Outer stratum corneum is a superficial “horny outer layer that contains the “dead cells” that are usually sloughed off to expose new cells.
– Basale stratum is the layer that leads to the next layer of skin called the dermis. It is the only layer that can “push up” new, regenerated cells to the outer stratum corneum for disposal.
The epidermis contains a dark brown to black pigment called melanin. Melanin affects the color of skin, hair, and parts of the eye.
2. Dermis: The dermis also called the “corium” is a two fold, thick inner layer of skin below the epidermis.
– Upper papillary is the communicator with the Central Nervous System (CNS); the sense receptors. Sense receptors enable the human to experience touch, pain, exertion of pressure, temperatures (hot and cold).
– Lower reticular is made up of connective tissue (dense and fibrous). The lower reticular layer contains nerves, lymph vessels, various glands such as the sebaceous, sudorferous and ceruminous, hair follicles and hair shafts.
Some severe conditions such as acne, eczema, skin tumours (keratosis) inflammations and skin cell damage (carcinoma) may require medical attention. Less severe conditions may require a good old-fashioned remedy. Good skin starts with common sense, general nutritional intake (diet), hydration (water) and the application of natural skin care products.
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Hair is present on every part of body (except palms, soles, lips and perhaps other small areas). Beneath the thin outer layer of skin called the “epidermis”, is a tubular sheath of cells called a ” follicle”. Attached to the follicles are tiny muscles called erector or arrector pili.When cold or frightened these muscles tighten forming ‘goose pimples’. Associated with follicles are the sebaceous (oil) glands, they keep the hair soft and pliable.
If we were to penetrate further into the thick inner layer of skin called the “dermis”, to the bottom of the follicle, inside we would see is a bulb-like root that expands and tapers upwards. The “root” is the starting point of a hollow, threadlike appendage filled with keratin. This is called a “hair”. The exposed part of the hair above the skin consists of an outer cuticle or hairshaft. It shrouds a cortex that contains pigment that gives hair its color, and an inner medulla (a marrow like substance).
Alopecia or hair loss can strike all ages and genders. Hair loss may occur through poor diet, surgery shock, illness, hormonal imbalances (thyroid or pregnancy), too much Vitamin A, chemotherapy, medications (blood thinners), fungal infections or underlying diseases such as lupus or diabetes.
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Many treatments are available from your medical practitioner for critical hair loss situations, and hair loss causes and conditions can be easily corrected.
The flattened, horny type structures formed from the protein keratin made from epidermal tissue located at the end of each finger and each toe are called “finger nails” and “toe nails” respectively.
Each nail is composed of a root, body and a free edge. The root is located and attached closest to the finger or the toe, with a nail fold overlaying the root. The body of the nail has a structure underneath it called the nail bed. The area that the nails are formed or grow out of are called the nail matrix. A lunula or sometimes referred to as the “moon” is the crescent shaped area at the base of the nail. It has a lighter colour than that of the nail matrix as it mixes with the matrix cells and the nail fold. Outward growth of the nails from the tip of the fingers and toes create a “free” edge as they are not attached.
The condition: Onychomycosis or nail fungus is an organism that attacks and digests the keratin in the nails of the fingers and toes. The condition is both a fungus and a yeast infection. It can be destroyed by use of essential oils such as myrrh or oil of oregano; or probiotics, antibiotic and anti-fungal agents.
Nails need to be well cared for and nourished just as the rest of the body. Start your nail care from the inside, out.
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SUDORIFEROUS or SWEAT GLANDS
There are several millions of these structures in the body that produce the by-product perspiration or more commonly called sweat. The majority of these structures or glands are by nature “eccrine” glands; they contain waste by-products of urea and a combination of salts. The fluid associate with the eccrine gland is light, clear fluid that has a slight odor. The other structures or other glands are called “apocrine” glands. They are located in the armpits, pubic regions.They are large, deep exocrine glands that secrete a strong, thicker fluid and have a distinct odour. The glands are located underneath the dermis.
These tissues are not necessarily a specific component of the Integumentary System such as skin or nails. However, they are categorized as such as their purpose is to protect, support and bind (connect) . Connective tissues can have the same or different functions in other locations of the body then those of the Integumentary System.
Connective tissues are defined as a type of material that supports and binds other tissues and parts of the body together; it may include skin, ligaments, tendons, interlacing fibrils and bones. We may not consider cartilage or bone as tissues, but they are. Hyaline, elastic and fibrous cartilages are found in such locations as the ends of bones, nose, specific parts of the respiratory passages.
Bones provide the support, protection and framework of the skeleton. Some other examples of a connective tissue is the pigmented tissue; its function is to store store pigment of the eye. Rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma are just two of the diseases that affect a connective tissues
A membrane is a thin layer of tissue that covers an organ or lines a cavity or a part. Membranes consist of two lipid layers, and a globular protein floats in between.
There are three (3) types of membranes: