Anatomy and Physiology of the Skin

Noreen Heer Nicol


Dermatology Nursing. 2005;17(1):62 

Dermatology Nursing Essentials: A Core Curriculum (2nd edition) was written to provide the reader with core knowledge about the specialty of dermatology nursing. As part of a new feature in Dermatology Nursing, key points from the text will be highlighted to test and review your dermatology nursing knowledge. These quick hits of information are no substitute for the indepth analysis provided in the Core Curriculum , but are designed to wet your appetite for the comprehensive content that the Core delivers. To order your personal copy of the Core , visit DNA's Web site at or call (800) 454-4DNA.

  • The skin is the largest organ of the body.

  • Alterations in the skin will affect the overall wellbeing of an individual.

  • Knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the skin is essential to accurate patient assessment.

  • Functions of the skin include protection, homeostasis, excretion, temperature regulation, vitamin D production, sensory perception, psychosocial function, and wound healing.

  • Structure of the skin includes the epidermis (see Figure 1), cells in the epidermis, basement membrane zone, dermis (see Figure 2), and cells in the dermis, dermal vasculature, lymphatics, nerves, and subcutaneous tissue (see Figure 3).

  • Appendages of the skin include nail, hair, sebaceous glands, apocrine glands, and eccrine sweat glands.Immunology of the skin includes humoral immunity, cellular immunity, and complement system.

The Epidermis

The Dermis and Its Appendages. From Rosen, T., Lanning, M., & Hill, M. (1983). Nurse's atlas of dermatology. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, p. 5.

Vasculature of the Subcutaneous Tissue


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