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Prefixes Suffixes
a-, an- without, not, absence of -cyte, -cytic cell
dys- bad, painful, difficult -derma skin
epi- above, upon -ectomy excision, surgical removal
eso- inward -gram record
eu- good, normal -ia, -ism condition
hyper- excessive, above -ial, -ic, -ical pertaining to
hypo- below, beneath -logist, -ologist specialist in the study of
neo- new -malacia softening
sub- below, beneath -oid resembling
supra- excessive, above -oma tumor
  -ory, -ous pertaining to
  -osis abnormal condition
  -pathy disease
  -plasty surgical repair
  -rrhea flow, discharge
  -therapy treatment
  -tic, -tous pertaining to
  -tomy cutting into, incision

Structure and Function

You may not think of the skin as an organ, but it is the largest organ of the body. Let’s look at the structure and function of the integumentary system.

The skin consists of three layers (Fig. 4-1). The epidermis is the thin outer layer that is constructed mostly of nonliving, keratinized (hardened) cells. It is waterproof and provides protection for the deeper layers. The epidermis is thickest on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. The base of this layer, aptly named the basement membrane, is where new, living epidermal cells are produced. These cells are pushed upward as even newer cells form beneath them. Eventually, they rise to the top, away from blood vessels and nerve endings, and die, thus becoming keratinized tissue. Therefore, cells on the top layer of your skin can be scraped away without causing pain.


The prefix epi- means above or upon; so, the name epidermis, which means above or upon the dermis, tells you exactly where it is located.

image image Learning Style Tip

Look carefully at the illustrations and photos in this book. Draw and label what you see.

The dermis lies just beneath the epidermis and is much thicker. It is made of fibrous connective tissue containing elastin, which provides elasticity, and collagen, which provides strength. It also contains a good blood supply and numerous other structures, including hair follicles, nerves, sweat glands, oil glands, and sensory receptors.

Beneath the dermis is the subcutaneous layer. This layer contains fat tissue as well as deeper blood vessels, nerves, the lower part of hair follicles, elastin, and collagen. The subcutaneous layer provides insulation for deeper structures.

Accessory structures of the skin include the sudoriferous (sweat) glands, sebaceous (oil) glands, hair, and nails. Sudoriferous glands are located throughout the body but are more concentrated in some areas, such as the soles of the feet and palms of the hands. Sebaceous glands are found at the base of hair follicles all over the body; they secrete an ...

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