Any component of the skin can become involved in a variety of different diseases. The skin can often provide doctors with clues about the health of the body, since many diseases that affect other organ systems are evident as telltale clues on the skin. For example, a rash, such as that typical of measles or chicken pox, can indicate an infection that affects the whole body. A blue tinge to the skin, called cyanosis, means that the body is not getting enough oxygen and can indicate heart failure. A yellow tinge to the skin, known as jaundice, signals that the liver is not working properly. Other diseases are specific to the skin itself. These disorders range from the merely annoying or distressing, such as acne, to the potentially life-threatening, such as skin cancer. The skin is essential to a person’s survival. It forms a barrier that helps prevent harmful microorganisms and chemicals from entering the body, and it also prevents the loss of life-sustaining body fluids. It protects the vital structures inside the body from injury and from the potentially damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. The skin also helps regulate body temperature, excretes some waste products, and is an important sensory organ. It contains various types of specialized nerve cells responsible for the sense of touch.





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