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Medical Coding (Integumentary Basics)

The Integumentary section

For a medical coder to be successful, the medical coder should have a solid understanding of medical terminology and anatomy! To ensure you get started with some of the building blocks for medical coding, we'll take a look at some of the body systems over the next few blogs. We are going to start with the integumentary system. Let's get cracking on this exciting journey!

We all know the importance of taking care of our skin, hair, and nails, yet how much do we actually know about the many vital components that make up the integumentary system – the largest organ in our bodies? From sebaceous glands to sweat glands and everything else that lies beneath and above our surface skin layers, this post will take a dive into exploring some of the elements of this important system.

Overview of the Integumentary System and its components

The integumentary system is the skin that covers and protects our entire body, and although often overlooked, it is one of the most important systems in our body. It comprises skin, hair, nails, sebaceous glands, sweat glands, and breasts. The skin has two layers - the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of the skin. It contains skin cells, sebaceous glands, and hair follicles. The dermis contains sweat glands, skin cells, and other structures.

The epidermis is the outermost layer of our skin, and it provides us with protection from dirt, water, sun, and other foreign objects. The Stratum Granulosum, Stratum Spinosum, and Stratum Basale are all important components of the epidermis that provide various functions, such as skin renewal and protection.

The Stratum Granulosum is the third layer of the epidermis and contains 3-5 layers of flattened, granular cells. These cells accumulate two types of granules: keratohyalin granules and lamellated granules. Keratohyaline granules are composed of proteins that aid in skin barrier formation, and lamellated granules help maintain the integrity of the epidermal layers.

The fourth layer is called Stratum Spinosum, which contains multiple layers of prickle cells along with their processes (spines). These spines provide physical protection to underlying layers and also allow communication between basal cells and other epidermal cells.

The Stratum Basale (Stratum Germinativum) is the deepest layer of the epidermis. It contains a single layer of basal cells which are responsible for producing all other cell types in the epidermis. These cells are constantly dividing and regenerating, providing continuous skin renewal and protection. The Stratum Basale is also important for providing nutrients to the upper layers of the epidermis.

Beneath our skin's surface lies the dermis, an incredible feat of nature that works hard to keep us looking and feeling healthy. It comprises a complex network of blood vessels, nerves, lymphatic tissue, and glands - like sebaceous ones which give us supple skin and hydrated hair - separated into two parts: the papillary layer up top, with its important receptors for touch sensations, then below sits the reticular layer containing strong connective tissues. Underneath these two layers lies the subcutaneous tissue with its fat cells, which provides insulation to the body from cold temperatures.

The subcutaneous tissue may be better known by some as the hypodermis or superficial fascia. This layer of tissue is like a supportive cushion beneath your skin - it's so close that its names come from Latin and Greek words both meaning "beneath the skin". It helps form an amazing foundation for your body, sitting just above the deeper layers!

Hair helps protect against foreign materials from entering the skin while maintaining proper fluid balance within the skin by releasing sebum oil.

Nails act as protective covers for fingertips, which permit us to grasp objects better. Lastly, breasts are not just for aesthetic purposes but also play important roles in lactation and sex hormones interaction during puberty. Overall, the integumentary system plays an integral role in not only protecting our bodies but in its vital functions to maintain homeostasis within ourselves.

In conclusion, the integumentary system consists of skin, hair, nails, sebaceous glands, and sweat glands that provide many types of protection for our bodies. Its structure also provides us with thermoregulation, sensory reception, and vitamin D production. Knowing how these systems work is essential for coding the integumentary section as well as providing optimal health for the integral relationship that our body has with its exterior environment.

Medical Terms

This blog provides a brief overview of medical terms relating to the skin. If you want to enroll in a medical terminology course, click here.

Cutaneous refers to anything pertaining to the skin, including diseases, infections, disorders, and other conditions.

Dermatology is the study of skin and diseases related to it, and a dermatologist is a physician who specializes in treating skin and subcutaneous tissue.

Decubitus ulcers or bedsores are common issues for those confined to bed rest or who have decreased mobility due to injury or illness.

Ecchymosis is another condition involving the leakage of blood into the skin, causing discoloration.

Hypodermic and intradermal refer to anything under and within the skin, respectively.

Jaundice is a condition characterized by yellowness of the skin, caused by an abnormally high level of bilirubin in the bloodstream.

Melanin is a pigment found in the skin, giving it color and protection from ultraviolet light.

Melanoma is a type of tumor that forms in melanin-producing cells.

Pediculosis refers to an infestation with lice, while subcutaneous pertains to anything below the skin's surface. Tinea is commonly known as ringworm – a fungal infection of the skin.

Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. It can be temporary or permanent, and it most often occurs due to genetics, medications, hormonal changes, infections, or autoimmune disorders. The cause of alopecia can also be attributed to physical trauma, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy treatments.

Hair follicles are the specialized structures responsible for hair growth. The follicle is a sac that holds the root of each hair fiber in place. At the bottom of the follicle is a knoblike indentation called a hair papilla, which contains the blood supply to nourish and grow the hair root.

The nail beds comprise the skin below the nails, including both the epidermis and dermis. The lunula is a little moon area of each nail that can be seen from above. The part of the nail which we can visibly see is called the nail body. Onychitis is an inflammation of the matrix, where nails are formed.

It is important to be familiar with medical terms to make your medical coding process a smooth one.

Thank you for reading!


American Academy of Dermatology Association

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