Integumentary system

Kelly, Jacinta and Simons, Joan (2010). Integumentary system. In: Coyne, Imelda; Neill, Emma and Timmins, Fiona eds. Clinical Skills in Children's Nursing. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 395–422.



The skin is an organ that serves many functions in maintaining homeostasis in the body (Bryant, 2000). A wide range of diseases manifest in changes in the skin and its appendages, and because the skin is visible and its disorders are often disfiguring, skin disorders can cause emotional and psychological stress for children and their families (Ball & Bindler, 2007). Skin diseases affect 20-33% of the population at any one time, seriously interfering with activities in 10% (Bryant, 2000). Epidemiological evidence suggests that many cases of skin disease do not reach the general practitioner (GP) or even the local pharmacist; nevertheless, each year about 15% of the population consult their GPs about skin complaints (Bryant, 2000). Skin disorders are among the most common health problems in children (Butcher & White, 2005). The infant and child are possibly more vulnerable to the effects of skin disorders and breakdown due to their underdeveloped integumentary system. Understanding the normal condition of the skin can help in the identification of abnormal signs and prompt treatment of skin disorders (Butcher & White, 2005). This chapter will focus on the integumentary system of the child, with reference to the normal structure of the skin together with common alterations and injuries to the skin of the child and the skills required for their nursing management.

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