The Integumentary System : Skin, Hair, Nails, Sweat Glands, Connective Tissue


Skin & Skin Derivatives: hair, nails, sweat glands and sense receptors

The Integumentary system covers or protects the body. Its components are skin, and the skin's derivatives: hair, nails, sweat glands and sense receptors.

Beneficial Functions:

  • Protects the body's internal living tissues and organs
  • Lubricates and waterproofs the exterior
  • Protects against invasion by infectious microorganisms
  • Protects the body from dehydration
  • Helps to regulate body temperature
  • Excretes and expels toxins and waste materials
  • Sense receptors for touch, pressure, pain, heat and cold
  • Stores water, fat, and vitamin D


The skin is the outer covering of the body. It is also the largest organ of the body; that performs many beneficial functions. For simplicity I have briefly outlined the two layers of skin:

1. Epidermis: The epidermis is the superficial, thin outer layers of skin containing many nerve endings and no blood vessels. It is made up of squamous epithelium tissue, that contain squamous, basal, Langerhan and Granstein cells.

There are many layers to the epidermis, I have briefly outlined two:

- Outer stratum corneum is a superficial "horny outer layer that contains the "dead cells" that are usually sloughed off to expose new cells.

- Basale stratum is the layer that leads to the next layer of skin called the dermis. It is the only layer that can "push up" new, regenerated cells to the outer stratum corneum for disposal.

The epidermis contains a dark brown to black pigment called melanin. Melanin affects the color of skin, hair, and parts of the eye.

2. Dermis: The dermis also called the "corium" is a two fold, thick inner layer of skin below the epidermis.

The two layers are:

- Upper papillary is the communicator with the Central Nervous System (CNS); the sense receptors. Sense receptors enable the human to experience touch, pain, exertion of pressure, temperatures (hot and cold).

- Lower reticular is made up of connective tissue (dense and fibrous). The lower reticular layer contains nerves, lymph vessels, various glands such as the sebaceous, sudorferous and ceruminous, hair follicles and hair shafts.

As we age the skin has the tendency to sag, wrinkle, it may contain broke blood vessels, loose moisture, and become thin. We are not in control of aging however preventatively we can limit our exposure to harse irritants, moisturize, limit sun exposure (apply a sunscreen lotion), limit alcohol intake and quit smoking.

Seek medical attention for such conditions as acne, ezcema, skin tumors (keratosis) , inflammations and skin cell damage (carcinoma). Good skin starts with common sense, general nutritional intake (diet), hydration (water) and the application of natural skin care products.



Hair is present on every part of body (except palms, soles, lips and perhaps other small areas). Beneath the thin outer layer of skin called the "epidermis", is a tubular sheath of cells called a " follicle". Attached to the follicles are tiny muscles called erector or arrector pili.When cold or frightened these muscles tighten forming 'goose pimples'. Associated with follicles are the sebaceous (oil) glands, they keep the hair soft and pliable.

If we were to penetrate further into the thick inner layer of skin called the "dermis", to the bottom of the follicle, inside we would see is a bulb-like root that expands and tapers upwards. The "root" is the starting point of a hollow, threadlike appendage filled with keratin. This is called a "hair". The exposed part of the hair above the skin consists of an outer cuticle or hairshaft. It shrouds a cortex that contains pigment that gives hair its color, and an inner medulla (a marrow like substance).

Alopecia or hair loss can strike all ages and genders. Hair loss may occur through poor diet, surgery shock, illness, hormonal imbalances (thyroid or pregnancy), too much Vitamin A, chemotherapy, medications (blood thinners), fungal infections or underlying diseases such as lupus or diabetes.

Many treatments are available from your medical practitioner for critical hair loss situations, and hair loss causes and conditions can be easily corrected.
Basic hair care is simple, start with good dietary intake, proper supplementation and the use of quality hair care products; avoid harsh chemicals (alcohol based, perming, colorants) When caring for your hair avoid restraining, harsh styling or binding of your hair (dreadlocks, back combing, or elastics).


The flattened, horny type structures formed from the protein keratin made from epidermal tissue located at the end of each finger and each toe are called "finger nails" and "toe nails" respectively.

Each nail is composed of a root, body and a free edge. The root is located and attached closest to the finger or the toe, with a nail fold overlaying the root. The body of the nail has a structure underneath it called the nail bed. The area that the nails are formed or grow out of are called the nail matrix. A lunula or sometimes referred to as the "moon" is the crescent shaped area at the base of the nail. It has a lighter colour than that of the nail matrix as it mixes with the matrix cells and the nail fold. Outward growth of the nails from the tip of the fingers and toes create a "free" edge as they are not attached.

The condition: Onychomycosis or nail fungus is an organism that attacks and digests the keratin in the nails of the fingers and toes. The condition is both a fungus and a yeast infection. It can be destroyed by use of essential oils such as myrrh or oil of oregano; or probiotics, antibiotic and anti-fungal agents.

Nails need to be well cared for and nourished just as the rest of the body. Start nail care from the inside, out.



  • Noni Liquid - Used to target the digestive, intestinal, respiratory, and immune systems. Noni continues to be popular today and enjoys widespread use, particularly as an immune system stimulant. It is also reputed to help create a general feeling of well-being. Also available in capsules.
  • Cal-Mag Plus Vitamin D - Used for the prevention of osteoporosis.
  • Fibralgia - Research shows that suffers respond to this supplement that contains malic acid and magnesium.
  • Glucosamine - repairs connective tissue.
  • Herbal CA - contains a high mineral potency of the alfalfa herb.
  • ART-A with Devil's Claw - contains white willow bark, and the famous herb Devil's Claw that relieves joint pain and swelling. RISK ALERT: Read label carefully.
  • Everflex tablets - For healthy joints. Try the topical Everflex Pain Cream
    RISK ALERT: Read label carefully


  • Aloe Vera Juice- 97.35% pure. - Also available as a Gel used in personal and beauty care.
  • CA ATC - contains four times (3X) the nutrient value of the regular CA product. ATC is an ancient traditional concept whereby herb extracts are concentrated and enhanced in combination with pure herbs.
  •  IF-C Chinese Herbal - Clears Heat IF-C Chinese Herbal - Clears body of toxins through detoxification and elimination.
  • Dandelion This weed-like nuisance, is considered by herbalists one of the most nutrient-rich plants for the urinary and glandular systems.


There are several millions of these structures in the body that produce the by-product perspiration or more commonly called sweat. The majority of these structures or glands are by nature "eccrine" glands; they contain waste by-products of urea and a combination of salts. The fluid associate with the eccrine gland is light, clear fluid that has a slight odor. The other structures or other glands are called "apocrine" glands. They are located in the armpits, pubic regions.They are large, deep exocrine glands that secrete a strong, thicker fluid and have a distinct odour. The glands are located underneath the dermis.
Sweat is excreted through ducts and expelled at the surface of the skin.
The function of the sudoriferous glands are to regulate the temperature of the body.

These tissues are not necessarily a specific component of the Integumentary System such as skin or nails. However, they are categorized as such as their purpose is to protect, support and bind (connect) . Connective tissues can have the same or different functions in other locations of the body then those of the Integumentary System.

Connective tissues are defined as a type of material that supports and binds other tissues and parts of the body together; it may include skin, ligaments, tendons, interlacing fibrils and bones. We may not consider cartilage or bone as tissues, but they are. Hyaline, elastic and fibrous cartilages are found in such locations as the ends of bones, nose, specific parts of the respiratory passages.

Bones provide the support, protection and framework of the skeleton. Some other examples of a connective tissue is the pigmented tissue; its function is to store store pigment of the eye. Rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma are just two of the diseases that affect a connective tissues



A membrane is a thin layer of tissue that covers an organ or lines a cavity or a part. Membranes consist of two lipid layers, and a globular protein floats in between.

There are three (3) types of membranes:

  1. Mucous: is a thin layer of epithelium tissue overlying a thicker connective tissue. Its functions are to protect underlying organs, secrete mucous, and absorb water and solutes.
  2. Synovial: this type of membrane secretes synovial fluid (transparent viscous fluid) and acts as a lubricant for the freely movable joints. The joints that benefit from the synovial membrane are: ball-and-socket, hinge, gliding or pivot.
  3. Serous: is a smooth, transparent membrane consisting of two layers: the visceral (covers the organs) and the parietal (lines the cavity wall). The serous membrane contains fibrous connective tissue within it. Between the two layers is a serous fluid made up of blood serum, that moistens the structures and allow them to move in a frictionless manner. Its function is to line many large cavities of the body. The pleural and pericardial cavities are just two of such cavities.



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