The human skin: Helpful terms for medical assistants

MFA Nr. 7 vom 15.07.2020 Seite 7
Dr. Astrid Schumacher; Reinbek

The human skin, our largest organ, is the outer covering of the human body. It has a surface area (average adult human) of 1.5 - 2.0 square metres. The branch of medicine which deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the skin is called dermatology.

Anatomy and functions of the skin

Our skin is composed of three layers:

  • The outermost layer of the skin is the epidermis. It contains no blood vessels and is nourished by the dermis.

  • The layer beneath the epidermis is the dermis. It contains connective tissue, blood and lymphatic vessels, hair follicles, sweat and sebaceous glands, nerve endings and receptors for sensations. Epidermis and dermis form the cutis.

  • The hypodermis (also called subcutaneous adipose layer or subcutis) lies below the dermis and is made of fat and connective tissue.

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The skin performs various functions such as:

  • protection from microbes, water loss and – to some extent – ultraviolet radiation

  • insulation from the cold

  • regulation of body temperature

  • sensations of touch, heat, cold and injury

  • synthesis of vitamin D

  • storage of lipids.

Skin disorders

Skin disorders exist in many types due to a variety of causes such as:

  • infections

  • allergens

  • ultraviolet radiation

  • genetics

  • illnes...

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