The skin is the external covering of the body. It is tough and, at the same time, pliable. Its major function is to protect the underlying cells. Just like the heart or the liver, the skin is an organ. In fact, it is considered the largest organ and is every bit as complex, if not more complex, than any of the other organ systems of the body.
The skin serves several protective functions:
- Its unbroken surface presents a barrier against air, water, most foreign substances, and germs.
- The skin has the ability to repair its own minor wounds, such as scratches and bruises.
- Regulation of heat loss is another important function of the skin. The body is cooled by the evaporation of sweat and the radiation of heat through the skin.
- The skin is well supplied with nerves, and, because it is, the skin gives us the sensations of pressure, touch, pain, and temperature.
- The skin has the ability to eliminate water, salts, and oils.
- Beneath the skin is a layer of tissue containing fatty materials which have both insulating and cushioning properties. Both the skin and the fatty tissue cover and protect the muscles.
PoinTIS Copyright © 1998 the Louis Calder Memorial Library of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, all rights reserved.