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Overview of the Integumentary (Skin) System

Author(s): Center for Educational Outreach, Baylor College of Medicine

Functions of the System

The skin is a living boundary that separates the inside of the body from the external world. Because it is permeable to water and heat, skin helps to control body temperature. 

Skin also contains a large community of bacteria that is acquired at birth. These resident bacteria act as a line of defense to ward off harmful microorganisms. Daily skin loss prevents potential colonists from inhabiting the skin. In addition, the skin supplies acidic products to deter certain types of bacteria. Skin’s dryness acts as a natural resistance to bacteria which thrive in moist environments. 

To help maintain a stable internal environment, the skin also regulates the movement of substances across the epidermis.