Skin and Accessory Organs - Medical Terminology(Adaptive*)

The skin is a sensory organ that also provides protection for the body. The accessory organs of the skin include the hair, nails, sebaceous glands, and sweat glands.


The skin is considered an organ and is composed of two layers of tissue: the outer epidermis, which is visible to the naked eye, and the inner layer, the dermis. Identify and label the (1) epidermis and the (2) dermis in Figure Identifying integumentary structures.

Identifying integumentary structures.

Identifying integumentary structures.

The epi/derm/is forms the protective covering of the body and does not have a blood or nerve supply. It is dependent on the dermis’s network of capillaries for nourishment. As oxygen and nutrients flow out of the capillaries in the dermis, they pass through tissue fluid, supplying nourishment to the deeper layers of the epidermis.

When you talk about the outer layer of skin, you are referring to the epi/derm/is When you talk about the deeper layer of skin, consisting of nerve and blood vessels, you are talking about the derm/is The epi/derm/is is thick on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet but relatively thin over most other areas.

The CF derm/o refers to the skin. Derm/o/pathyis a disease of the skin. Although the epidermis is composed of several layers, the (3) stratum corneumand the (4) basal layer are of greatest importance.

The stratum corneum is composed of dead, flat cells, which convert to keratin that continually flakes away. Its thickness is correlated with normal wear of the area it covers. Only the basal layer is composed of living cells. It is where new cells are continuously being reproduced. Label the two structures in Figure Identifying integumentary structures.

As new cells form in the basal layer, they move toward the stratum corneum to replace the cells that have been sloughed off. Eventually they die and become filled with a hard protein material called keratin. The relatively waterproof characteristic of keratin prevents body fluids from evaporating and moisture from entering the body. The entire process by which a cell forms in the basal layers, rises to the surface, becomes keratinized, and sloughs off takes about 1 month. Check the basal layer in Figure Structure of the skin and subcutaneous tissue. to see the single row of newly formed cells in the deepest layer of the epi/derm/is.

In addition to derm/o, two other CFs for skin arecutane/o and dermat/o. A physician who specializes in treating skin diseases is called a dermatologist.

In the basal layer, specialized cells, called melan/o/cytes, produce a black pigment called melanin. Production of melanin increases with exposure to strong ultraviolet light. This exposure creates a suntan that provides a protective barrier from damaging effects of the sun. The number of melan/o/cytes is about the same in all races, but skin color differences are attributed to production of melanin. In people with dark skin, melan/o/ cytes continuously produce large amounts of melanin. In people with light skin, melan/o/cytes produce less melanin.

The term derm/is is a noun that means pertaining to the skin. An aden/oma is a benign (not malignant) neo/plasm in which the tumor cells form glands or glandlike structures. The tumor is usually well circumscribed, tending to compress rather than infiltrate or invade adjacent tissue.

Lip/o and adip/o are CFs that mean fat. A lip/ectomyis excision of fat or adipose tissue. Adip/omaand lip/omaare terms that mean fatty tumor. Both are benign tumors consisting of fat cells. The dermis is attached to underlying structures of the skin by (8) subcutaneous tissue. Identify and label the layer of subcutaneous tissue in Figure Identifying integumentary structures.

Suction lip/ectomy, also called lip/o/suction, is removal of sub/ cutane/ous fat tissue using a blunt-tipped cannula (tube) introduced into the fatty area through a small incision. Suction is applied and fat tissue is removed. Lip/o/suction is used primarily to remove or reduce localized areas of fat around the abdomen, breasts, legs, face, and upper arms, where skin is contractile enough to redrape in a normal manner, and is performed for cosmetic reasons.

The noun suffixes-logy and -logistcontain the same root, log / o, which means study of. They at the end of a term means condition, process and denotes a noun ending. The definitions of both suffixes are easier to remember if you analyze their components: -logy means study of; -logist means specialist in study of.

A physician specializing in treating diseases of the stomach is a gastr/o/logist. The medical specialty concerned with treatment of stomach diseases is gastr/o/logy. Scler/osisis an abnormal condition of hardening.

Scler/o/derma, a chronic hardening and thickening of the skin, is caused by new collagen formation. It is characterized by inflammation that ultimately develops into fibrosis (scarring), then sclerosis (hardening) of tissues. Systemic scler/o/derma can be defined as hardening of the skin.

System/icscler/osis, a form of scler/o/derma, is characterized by formation of thickened collagenous fibrous tissue, thickening of the skin, and adhesion to underlying tissues. The disease progresses to involve tissues of the heart, lungs, muscles, genit/o/urin/ary tract, and kidneys. A form of scler/o/derma that causes fibrosis and sclerosis of multiple body systems is known as system/icscler/osis.

Kerat/osis, a skin condition, is characterized by hard, horny tissue. A person with a skin lesion in which there is overgrowth and thickening of the epidermis most likely would be diagnosed with kerat/osis. A kerat/omais a horny tumor, also called kerat/osis. Sub/cutane/ous surgery is performed through a small opening in the skin.

Accessory Organs of the Skin

Accessory organs of the skin include the sebaceous (oil) glands, sudoriferous (sweat) glands, hair, and nails. Refer to Figure Structure of the skin and subcutaneous tissue. to complete this frame. Oil-secreting glands of the skin are called sebaceous glands.Sweat glands are called sudoriferous glands.

Sebaceous glands are found in all areas of the body that have hair. The oily material, called sebum, is secreted by the sebaceous gland. It keeps hair and skin soft and pliable and inhibits growth of bacteria on the skin.

Increased activity of sebaceous glands at puberty may block the hair follicle and form blackheads (comedos). As bacteria feed on the sebum, they release irritating substances that produce inflammation. Large numbers of bacteria produce infection, forming whiteheads (pustules).

Comedos and pustules are the result of hypersecretion of sebum by the sebaceous (oil) glands. Sweat glands that are not associated with hair follicles open to the surface of the skin through pores, as illustrated in Figure Structure of the skin and subcutaneous tissue.. These glands are stimulated by temperature increases or emotional stress and produce perspiration that evaporates on the surface of the skin and provides a cooling effect. Sweat, or perspiration, is produced by the sudoriferous (sweat) glands.

The term diaphoresis denotes a condition of profuse or excessive sweating. The following two terms also refer to sweating. Although hidr/o and hydr/o sound alike, they have different meanings. Hidr/o refers to sweat. Hydr/o refers to water.

An /hidr/osisis an abnormal condition characterized by inadequate perspiration. When a person suffers from an absence of sweating, you would say they have a condition called an / hidr/osis. Dermat / o/ myc/ osis, a fungal infection of the skin, is caused by dermatophytes, yeasts, and other fungi. When you see this term in a medical report, you will know it refers to a fungal infection of the skin.

Myc/o/dermat/ itis, an inflammation of the skin, is caused by a fungus. Label the structures of the fingernail in Figure Structure of a fingernail. as you read the following material. Each nail is formed in the

  1. nail rootand is composed of keratin, a hard fibrous protein, which is also the main component of hair. As the nail grows from a
  2. matrixof active cells beneath the
  3. cuticle, it stays attached and slides forward over the epithelial layer called the
  4. nail bed. Most of the
  5. nail bodyappears pink because of the underlying blood vessels.
  6. The lunulais the crescent-shaped area at the base of the nail. It has a whitish appearance because the vascular tissue underneath does not show through.

The term malaciameans abnormal softening of tissue. Nails become white, opaque, thickened, and brittle when a person has a disease called onych/o/myc/osis. When you see the term onych/o/myc/osisin a medical chart, you will know it means an infection of the nails caused by a fungus.


Structure of a fingernail.

The noun suffix -derma denotes skin. A person with excessive dryness of skin has a condition called xer/o/derma. A hernia containing fat or fatty tissue is called an adip/o/celeor lip/o/cele. skin that is red: erythr/o/derma

skin that is black: melan/o/derma

skin that is yellow: xanth/o/derma

skin that is dry:xer/o/derma


You have already learned that a cell is the smallest basic unit of the human organism and that every tissue and organ in the human body is made up of cells. Cyt/o/logy is the study of cells.

The word elements cyt/o and -cyteare used to build words that refer to a cell. Cyt/o/logy is the study of cells. Leuk/o/cyt/o/penia, an abnormal decrease in white blood cells (WBCs), may be caused by an adverse drug reaction, radiation poisoning, or a path/o/logic/al condition.

Deficiency in white blood cell production may be a sign of a path/ o/log/ic condition known as leuk/o/peniaor leuk/o/cyt/o/penia. Abbreviation for white blood cell ,white blood count is WBC. The suffix -emiais used in words to mean blood condition. Xanth/ emia, an occurrence of yellow pigment in the blood, literally means yellow blood.High cholesterol levels may cause small yellow tumors called xanth/omas.

Leuk/emia is a progressive malignant disease of the blood forming organs. It is characterized by proliferation and development of immature leuk/o/cytes in the blood and bone marrow.

Leuk/emialiterally means white blood. Leuk/o/cytes are white blood cells. A disease of unrestrained growth of immature white blood cells is called leuk/emia.

Activity of melan/o/cytes (produce melanin) is genetically regulated and inherited. Local accumulations of melanin are seen in pigmented moles and freckles. Environmental and physiological factors also play a role in skin color. Locate the basal layer in Figure Structure of the skin and subcutaneous tissue.

Absence of pigment in the skin, eyes, and hair is most likely due to an inherited inability to produce melanin. This lack of melanin results in the condition called albin/ism. A person with this condition is called an albino.

Deficiency or absence of pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes due to an abnormality in production of melanin is known as albin/ism.

The number of melan/o/cytes is about the same in all races. Differences in skin color are attributed to production of melanin. In people with dark skin, melan/o/cytes continuously produce large amounts of melanin. In people with light skin, melan/o/cytes produce less melanin.

The lesion of melan/oma is characterized by its asymmetry, irregular border, and lack of uniform color. Malignant melan/oma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer because of its tendency to metastasize rapidly.The medical term that literally means black tumor is melan/oma.

Cyan/osis, also called cyan/o/derma, is caused by deficiency of oxygen and an excess of carbon dioxide in the blood. A person who is rescued from drowning exhibits a dark bluish or purplish discoloration of the skin.

This condition is known as cyan/osisor cyan/o/derma.

abnormal condition of blue (skin): cyan/osis
abnormal condition of red (skin):erythr/osis
abnormal condition of black (pigmentation):melan/osis
abnormal condition of yellow (skin):xanth/osis

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. The rate of skin cancer has increased, mainly due to increased exposure to ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Sun exposure, especially excessive tanning of the skin, can cause the lethal black tumor called melan/oma.

Basal cell carcin/oma is a type of skin cancer that affects the basal cell layer of the epidermis. (See Figure (A) Basal cell carcinoma (late stage). (B) Common sites of basal cell carcinoma.) Metastasis is rare, but local invasion destroys underlying and adjacent tissue. This condition occurs most frequently on areas of the skin exposed to the sun. A type of skin cancer that affects the basal layer is called basal cell carcin/oma.

The CF sarc/o means flesh (connective tissue). Kaposi sarc/oma, a malignant skin tumor commonly associated with patients who are diagnosed with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), is usually fatal. Initially, the tumor appears as a purplish brown lesion.


The abbreviation for acquired immune deficiency syndrome is AIDS. The type of skin cancer associated with the AIDS virus is Kaposi sarc/oma. necr/ois used in words to denote death or necr/osis. Necr/o/ tic is a word that means pertaining to necr/osis or death.

The term necr/osisis used to denote the death of areas of tissue or bone surrounded by healthy tissue. Cellular necr/osismeans that the cells are dead. Bony necr/osis occurs when dead bone tissue results from the loss of blood supply (for example, after a fracture). The term that means abnormal condition of death is necr/osis.

Gangrene is a form of necr/osis associated with loss of blood supply. Before healing can take place, the dead matter must be removed. When there is an injury to blood flow, a form of necr/osis may develop that is known as gangrene.

In the English language, an auto/graph is a signature written by oneself. In medical words, auto- is used as a prefix and means self, own. A graft is tissue transplanted or implanted in a part of the body to repair a defect. Grafts done with tissue transplanted from the patient’s own skin are called auto/grafts.

A derm/a/tome* is an instrument used to incise or cut. When there is a need to graft a thin slice of skin, the physician asks for an instrument called a derm/a/tome. Skin transplanted from another person does not survive very long. Thus, a graft is typically performed using tissue transplanted from the patient’s own skin. This surgical procedure is called an auto/graft.

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