THE INTEGUMENTARY SYSTEM
Chapter 6 offers a final step for anatomy and physiology in the organizational hierarchy of the body: the
organ system level. The various tissue types (epithelial, connective, muscular, and nervous) work together
to provide an array of services for the body such as defenses against invasion, vitamin D synthesis, and
thermoregulation. The skin does not work in isolation to execute these activities. Rather, the integumentary
system functions in concert with other parts of the body such as the circulatory and excretory to maintain
overall homeostasis. Professor Saladin discusses the associated organs (sweat glands, hair, sebaceous
glands, and others) and their functions. This section also explores pathologies related to the skin such as
aging burns and skin cancer.
Here are some concepts that students should have a better understanding of after reading this chapter:
the basic structure of the three major layers of the skin: epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis;
normal and pathological coloration of the skin;
structure, growth, and roles of hair and nails;
activities of merocrine and apocrine sweat glands as well as those of the ceruminous, sebaceous,
and mammary glands;
the functions of the specialized tissues of the epidermis such as the melanocytes, dendritic cells,
the methods by which the skin serves its major functions: barrier to pathogens, vitamin D synthesis,
sensory activities (in brief), thermoregulation, and social signaling;
skin changes due to gender, aging, burns, and damage with special emphasis on those changes
brought about through cancer;
and methods for repairing skin damage.
Topics for Discussion
Many students still think that getting a deep tan is a great idea. Therefore, assigning or discussing
related topics such as ozone, ultraviolet light, tanning beds, sun screens, photoaging, and skin cancer
frequency might change some attitudes.
The genetics of red hair, pheomelanin, and the correlation to skin cancer might be interesting.
It is important for people to know about the dangers of skin cancer. An ounce of prevention is worth a
pound of cure! Students may be interested in listing ways that they can reduce their exposure to UV
Dehydration due to extreme heat is killing more than one hundred illegal aliens each year as they try to
cross the Mexican-United States border in the Southwest. You might encourage students to connect the
sweating of the skin and consequent fluid loss with the consequent events taking place in other parts of