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QQI Level 5 Anatomy and Physiology 5N0749 – Unit 9: The Skin Assignment Example Ireland

The skin is the largest organ in the human body and has many functions. It protects the body from infection and injury, regulates body temperature, and helps to produce vitamin D. The skin is also responsible for sensations, such as touch, pain, and heat. In this unit, we will discuss the structure and function of the skin.

Learning Outcomes of The Skin

When you have studied this unit, you will be able to:

Understand the structure of the skin

The skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous tissue.

  • The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin and is made up of four cell types: keratinocytes, melanocytes, Langerhans cells, and Merkel cells. The keratinocytes are the most numerous of the four cell types and are responsible for producing keratin, a tough protein that forms the outer layer of the skin. The melanocytes are responsible for producing melanin, the pigment that gives the skin its color. The Langerhans cells are responsible for immune function, and Merkel cells are responsible for sensing touch.
  • The dermis is the middle layer of the skin and is made up of two cell types: fibroblasts and macrophages. The fibroblasts are responsible for producing collagen, a protein that provides structural support to the skin. The macrophages are responsible for immune function.
  • The subcutaneous tissue is the deepest layer of the skin. It is made up of fat cells or adipose tissue that are responsible for storing energy and insulating organs from extreme temperatures.

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Outline the functions of the skin

The skin protects and insulates our body from bacteria, chemicals, light, trauma (injury), and water loss. It also produces vitamin D which is necessary for healthy bones and teeth. The skin has many different sensory abilities such as touch, pain, temperature regulation, and pressure.

The skin has several functions: protection, regulation of body temperature, production of vitamin D, sensation, immune defense, etc.

  • Protect the body from infection and injury: The top layer of the skin, called the epidermis, protects against invasion by bacteria and viruses through a process called keratinization. Keratin is a hard protein that forms a waterproof barrier to infections from outside. If this barrier is broken or injured, germs can enter the body through microabrasions. The epidermis also helps to protect the body against injury by providing a protective layer of dead skin cells that can act like armor, preventing the penetration of external objects into the dermis below.
  • Regulate body temperature: The subcutaneous tissue is made up of fat cells or adipose tissue which are responsible for storing energy and insulating organs from extreme temperatures. The skin regulates the body’s core temperature by maintaining heat in colder conditions and releasing excess heat when it is hot outside. This process is known as thermoregulation.
  • Produce vitamin D: The epidermis is made up of four cell types: keratinocytes, melanocytes, Langerhans cells, and Merkel cells. The keratinocytes are the most numerous of the four cell types and are responsible for producing keratin, a tough protein that forms the outer layer of the skin. When the skin is exposed to sunlight, the keratinocytes produce vitamin D, a nutrient that is essential for bone health.
  • Sense sensations: The skin contains receptors that are sensitive to touch, pain, heat, and cold. These receptors send signals to the brain that allow us to feel these sensations.
  • Produce pigment: The melanocytes are responsible for producing melanin, the pigment that gives the skin its color. How much melanin an individual produces determines his or her natural skin tone.
  • Influence mood: The skin is also responsible for sending signals to the brain that influence our emotional state. For example, when we are embarrassed, blushing creates a physical reaction in which blood vessels expand and warm blood rushes to the skin, causing it to turn red. When we are angry or sad, our faces may appear pale due to the contraction of blood vessels.
  • Protect against ultraviolet radiation: The epidermis contains two types of cells: keratinocytes and melanocytes. Keratinocytes produce keratin, a protein that forms a protective barrier against bacteria and viruses by creating an outer layer on the skin called the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum contains dead skin cells that are not susceptible to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which can damage living skin cells underneath.
  • Form a boundary between internal and external environments: The outermost layer of the skin, called the epidermis, provides a barrier between the inside environment and the outside environment. This barrier is essential for protecting our bodies from infection by bacteria and viruses as well as environmental toxins such as pesticides or pollutants in rainwater. It also keeps chemicals produced by our own bodies from leaking out into the world around us.

Outline the relationship between the skin, the circulatory system, and the nervous system

The skin is inextricably linked to the circulatory system and the nervous system. The circulatory system delivers nutrients and oxygen to the skin and removes waste products, while the nervous system sends signals to the brain that allow us to feel sensations like touch, pain, heat, and cold. The skin also sends signals to the brain that influence our emotional state. For example, when we are embarrassed, blushing creates a physical reaction in which blood vessels expand and warm blood rushes to the skin, causing it to turn red. When we are angry or sad, our faces may appear pale due to the contraction of blood vessels.

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