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Structure and Function of the Skin

Pearson
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One of the first things that you see when you meet your patients is their largest and most vulnerable organ -- the skin. The skin, hair, nails, and glands that make up the integumentary system play a critical protective role for the human body, serving as a barrier between the external world and internal organs and regulating body temperature, among other functions. This chapter discusses the structure and function of the skin and the other organs of the integumentary system. As a healthcare professional, it's very important for you to understand the structure and function of the skin so that you can treat any injuries to it, such as chemical and heat burns. For instance, in order to classify a burn by degree of severity, you must know the different layers of skin. Burns that affect only the epidermis, or the outermost layers of skin, are considered to be 1st degree burns. Burns that damage the epidermis and the upper region of the dermis are considered to be 2nd degree burns. Finally, burns that affect all layers of the skin are 3rd degree burns -- the most severe classification, which can be life-threatening to patients. Because all layers of the skin have been damaged, including the nerve endings within the skin, patients with 3rd degree burns actually have less pain than patients with 1st and 2nd degree burns. This explains why it's so important to know about the structure and function of the skin, because pain alone is not always indicative of the severity of an injury. Having a thorough understanding of the integumentary system is crucial in order to evaluate and treat all degrees of burns and other injuries to the skin.
One of the first things that you see when you meet your patients is their largest and most vulnerable organ -- the skin. The skin, hair, nails, and glands that make up the integumentary system play a critical protective role for the human body, serving as a barrier between the external world and internal organs and regulating body temperature, among other functions. This chapter discusses the structure and function of the skin and the other organs of the integumentary system. As a healthcare professional, it's very important for you to understand the structure and function of the skin so that you can treat any injuries to it, such as chemical and heat burns. For instance, in order to classify a burn by degree of severity, you must know the different layers of skin. Burns that affect only the epidermis, or the outermost layers of skin, are considered to be 1st degree burns. Burns that damage the epidermis and the upper region of the dermis are considered to be 2nd degree burns. Finally, burns that affect all layers of the skin are 3rd degree burns -- the most severe classification, which can be life-threatening to patients. Because all layers of the skin have been damaged, including the nerve endings within the skin, patients with 3rd degree burns actually have less pain than patients with 1st and 2nd degree burns. This explains why it's so important to know about the structure and function of the skin, because pain alone is not always indicative of the severity of an injury. Having a thorough understanding of the integumentary system is crucial in order to evaluate and treat all degrees of burns and other injuries to the skin.