While we can often repeat that the skin is the largest organ of the body. It has many other functions. Being familiar with them can help you with your patient care and documentation. You also will see questions on the skin on many EMS exams.
So while this may not be as exciting as 12 lead ECGs. It is a vital area of EMS.
Here are five primary functions of the skin to keep in mind –
Protection/Immunological: Skin acts as a protective barrier against infection and is the starting site for the immunological reaction when this barrier is breached.
Fluid & Electrolytes: Skin also prevents the loss of body fluids and electrolytes. 300 to 400 ml per day of water is lost insensibly through intact skin by diffusion.
Neurosensory Stimulation: Nerve endings and receptors provide sensory contact with the environment and transmit heat, cold, pain, pressure and touch sensations.
Thermoregulation: Skin also aids in the regulation of body temperature by insulating and through evaporation.
Metabolism: This organ is a site of metabolism for vitamin D. It is the site of storage of pro-vitamin D. Sunlight converts the pro-vitamin D to the active form of vitamin D.
The patients skin temp, color etc. can give us many clues to what is happening with them. Pale, cool diaphoretic vs warm, dry and flushed can mean different things. Take your Diabetic patient for example.
Can clues be gathered depending their skin presentation?