Video: Anatomical terminology for healthcare professionals | Episode 11 | Integumentary system
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Epidermis, squamous cells, anatomical terminology – maybe she's born with it! Maybe, it's Kenhub. Who knew studying anatomy could make you look younger? Okay, I lie. It doesn't. If anything, stu... Read more
Epidermis, squamous cells, anatomical terminology – maybe she's born with it! Maybe, it's Kenhub.
Who knew studying anatomy could make you look younger? Okay, I lie. It doesn't. If anything, studying anatomical terminology is guaranteed to add more than a few stress lines to your otherwise youthful face. Trust me. Well, they say prevention is better than the cure, then give Kenhub a try before it's too late, and welcome to the eleventh episode of our series, Anatomical Terminology for Healthcare Professionals – forever young with the integumentary system.
So if you have been following the past ten episodes of this series, you will be more than familiar with our method of taking life drainingly-complicated anatomical terminology and breaking it down into smaller, more manageable parts. Doing this helps us build up an armory of word parts known as prefixes, roots, and suffixes which we can use again to identify new terms.
So I guess the first thing you're wondering is why on earth is the skin known as the integumentary system. Well, the term comes from the Latin 'integumentum' which means covering or shield which makes sense giving that our skin protects the body from infection, dehydration, UV radiation, and injury. So, let's waste no time and take a look at some common root words related to the skin beginning first with 'derm-' or 'derm/o-' with the O at the end or 'dermato-' which comes from the Greek word 'derma' that means skin. I'm sure you're familiar with the terms dermatology or dermatologists.
Of course, for many Greek root words, we often have a Latin equivalent, and in this case, we're talking about the root words 'cut-' or 'cutane-' or 'cutane/o-' with the O at the end, both of which also refer directly to the skin. We'll see this root most often in action in the term cutaneous. For example, cutaneous vasculitis is an acute condition which causes inflammation of the blood vessels of the skin.
And, remember, everyone, you can reinforce your learning of all these root words and suffixes we meet today by making simple flashcards during your study time – just add the word elements on the front and the explanations on the back. Register for free with kenhub.com and make your flashcards even more effective by adding some of our awesome anatomical illustrations found in our atlas.
Next up is 'kerat-' or 'kerat/o-' with the O at the end which refers to the tough, keratinized outermost layer of the skin and comes from the Greek word for horn. There are two important terms which come from this root which are good to be aware of. The first is keratoderma, which is a group of disorders which results in either diffuse or localized, excessive formation of keratin in the skin. The other is keratosis which is another group of diseases that cause hard growths on the skin like warts or calluses.
If you look deeper into the skin now, we might be familiar with the term melanin which is the pigment that gives our skin, hair, and eyes their color. Terms related to this pigment or the cells which produce it are known as melanocytes; unsurprisingly, often contain the root word 'melan-' or 'melan/o-' with the O at the end. For instance, a melanoma describes a tumor arising from abnormal proliferation of melanocytes.
We're going to go deeper again and let's briefly look at a root word that no one wants to know which is 'adipo-'. It comes from the Latin word 'adeps' which means fat. You'll see it pop up in lots of forms perhaps as the most dreaded adipometer or skin fold caliper. It's used to measure the thickness of skin in order to calculate the amount of subcutaneous fat we're carrying. You'll probably be more aware of the Greek cousin of this root 'lipo-' which is featured in well-known terms like liposuction which, of course, needs no definition.
Continuing along our journey, let's look at two rather obscure root words which are 'hidro-' – not to be confused with 'hydro-'; and 'sudor-'. Both of these terms refer to sweat or the sweat glands. Hyperhidrosis and sudoresis are both names for disorders which result in excessive perspiration or sweating. An alternative root word which is related to sweating is 'diaphor-' or 'diaphor/o-' with the O at the end as in diaphoresis which refers to perspiration especially when profuse as a symptom of a disease or a side effect of drugs.
If you're familiar with the anatomy of the skin, you'll know it contains many sebaceous glands which produce sebum that helps to keep the skin moisturized. Unsurprisingly, terms related to these glands often contain the root word 'seb-' or 'seb/o-' with the O at the end. For instance, seborrhea is a condition of excessive secretion of sebum which forms greasy scales on the skin. When it affects our scalp, we would refer to this condition as dandruff. The topic of dandruff brings us nicely along to our next word roots which is 'tricho-' or 'trichi-' which refers to hair. For example, trichodystrophy is the condition of having malnourished hair, often resulting in hair loss.
And finally, the last of our root words for now is 'onych-' or 'onych/o-' with the O at the end, which comes from the Greek 'onyx' which means nail. Did you know, for example, that onychophagia is the clinical term for biting your nails?
With that in mind now, let's move on now to some more practical terminology which you might come across when studying or working in clinical practice. Many diseases are characterized by changes in the quality of skin or by various types of lesions or outbreaks. And when it comes to characterizing these lesions, there are many terms which provide specific detail to the condition of the skin observed. Let's take a look at some of the most common examples.
A cyst is a small sac or pouch underneath the skin which contains fluid, semisolid matter, or even air. Then a fissure is a small crack or break in the skin most often seen in thick skin like the sole of your foot. A macule is a discolored lesion which is relatively flat to touch; for example, freckles and moles. A papule, on the other hand, is a solid raised lesion on the surface of the skin with no visible fluid that often forms as part of a rash. A plaque describes a larger flat or slightly raised patch on the skin which is larger than one centimeter in diameter. These are common in disorders like psoriasis.
A polyp is a common mushroom-type growth which extends from the skin. They're commonly referred to as skin tags and often form in regions where the skin forms creases or rubs together like the neck, armpits, or groin. A pustule, as the name suggests, is a raised area or blister of the skin formed by pus accumulation such as those seen in acne. An ulcer is an open sore or area of disintegration of the skin which results from injury, poor circulation, or pressure. Now, pressure ulcers are necrotic skin lesions formed where the body rests on skin covering bony projections. And finally, a wheal is a smooth elevation that is red and sometimes itchy, for example, hives, or it can also describe the mark left on the skin by a blow or pressure.
Now let's move on to the final section of our tutorial today and take a look at the selection of some of the most common dermatological disorders which you might encounter.
First up is alopecia which to you and I is the clinical term for hair loss which can occur due to many reasons such as male pattern baldness, fungal infections, or even induced by drug treatments or illness. Another common skin condition which we are all familiar with is pruritus which is the clinical term for intense itchiness, usually occurs as a symptom of another disorder; for example, skin disease, allergy, infection, liver disease, or renal dysfunction.
I'm sure you're more than familiar with the term eczema; however, let's learn a little about what it means. It’s a generic term for inflammatory conditions of the skin which are chiefly described as causing redness, itching, and outbreak of lesions which may ooze or become encrusted. Another similar condition which we mentioned earlier is psoriasis. This is a chronic inherited condition which is characterized by vivid red macules, papules, and plaques covered in silvery layered scales. Perhaps a less well known skin disorder is vitiligo which is a progressive condition resulting in the loss of melanocytes that give color to the skin. This results in white patches amongst normally pigmented skin.
Now let's look briefly at two viral conditions which are well known to affect the skin. The first is rubella which you might know as German measles. It's characterized by a fine red rash which begins at the face and neck and rapidly moves across the whole body within 24 hours lasting for about three days.
The other viral disease we're going to look at is varicella which is, of course, the dreaded chickenpox. This is characterized by a spotty, macular rash which progresses into blister-like vesicles filled with clear fluid. After a day or two, they become yellow and pustular before drying up and forming a crust. It's caused by herpes zoster virus which also causes shingles.
To finish up our clinical disorders of the skin, let's mention two important terms in relation to skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma is a malignant tumor of the basal cell layer of the epidermis. It is the most common type of skin cancer and is slow growing, and most importantly, it does not generally spread. Squamous cell carcinoma, on the other hand, is a malignant tumor of the squamous epithelial cells of the epidermis. This type of skin cancer may metastasize to lymph nodes.
And that is it, we've reached the end of this tutorial. You're almost at the end of exploring the terminology of all the systems of the body. Just one system left to go. Now it is time for you to test your knowledge on the terms we have learned today by trying to decipher the meaning of the following words in our five-term challenge.