How Does the Integumentary System Maintain Homeostasis?
The integumentary system maintains homeostasis by protecting the body, regulating temperature, absorbing materials and synthesizing vitamins and minerals. To achieve this, it may interact with other areas of the body, like the hypothalamus.
The integumentary system maintains homeostasis in several ways:
- It protects the body from the world outside – The skin acts as a barrier that prevents pathogens from entering the skin. In addition, its acidic secretions deter fungi and the presence of melanocytes plays a role in reducing the harmful effects of UV rays.
- The skin helps to regulate body temperature – Temperature sensors located across the skin pass information about the surrounding environment to the hypothalamus. If the body is too hot, the hypothalamus signals the sweat glands to release fluids. When it is too cold, the glands close and the body loses less fluids.
- It triggers an inflammatory response – When someone is cut or injured, the integumentary system triggers an inflammatory response that promotes healing.
- It diverts its blood supply when needed – Around 5 percent of the body’s blood supply is in the skin. If other organs need blood, it redirects from its reservoirs in the skin.
- The skin plays a role in vitamin and mineral synthesis – For example, when sunlight hits the skin it helps to produce vitamin D.