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Integumentary System Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rachel Torrens
Do you know what is holding you together right now? It's not a trick question. The answer is simple: your skin! In this lesson, learn about this fascinating organ and other parts of the integumentary system.

Definition of the Integumentary System

Often when discussing the human body, parts are organized into groups, or systems, that serve a similar function. So what body parts could possibly fall into the integumentary (in-teg-yuh-MEN-tuh-ree) system?

Well, let's think about it. Integument means a natural covering. Therefore, the integumentary system is composed of coverings for our body, including the following:

  • Skin
  • Hair
  • Nails

Each is a naturally produced cover for some part of your body, unless you are wearing a wig or press-on nails!

Skin and hair and nails, oh my! These are the three components of the integumentary system.
Child showing skin, hair, and nails.

Importance of the Integumentary System

The skin, nails, and hair all perform important functions. The most notable function of all three is protection! Your skin may not seem like a high-tech defense system, but it is. It helps to keep germs from entering your body and making you sick. Likewise, your hair helps to protect your scalp from the sun's rays, while your nails protect the ends of your fingers and toes, areas that can easily get bumped and bruised.

Parts of the Integumentary System

Now, let's explore each part of the integumentary system a little more.

The Skin

Your skin is an amazing, living organ! It is the largest organ of your body. As an adult if you could peel off all your skin and lay it side by side, it would be roughly the size of a single mattress.

Not only is your skin big, but it is busy! You shed skin cells every day, like a dog or cat sheds its hair, and new skin cells are constantly being made to replace all the ones you lost. We are talking about making roughly 35,000 new cells every minute! So while you've read this lesson, your skin has been hard at work generating over 70,000 cells. How is skin able to reproduce itself so rapidly?

Well, skin is composed of two layers:

  1. Epidermis
  2. Dermis

The epidermis is the top-most layer of skin, and its job is to manufacture. Skin cells are created in the lowest level of the epidermis. As the cells develop, they are pushed to the surface of the skin. From there, they eventually die and are shed. Ever notice the 'dust' floating through a room when a ray of sunlight comes through the window? Well, the majority of it is your old skin cells!

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