Medical Terminology of the Integumentary System

You are currently viewing Medical Terminology of the Integumentary System

This article covers the medical terminology of the integumentary system. These terms will help with your study of conditions and diseases related to the skin, hair, and nails. You can use this list in your studies.

You will find a list of word roots, and a few additional suffixes and prefixes related to the integumentary system. There will be terms related to those medical specialties that deal with the skin.

There is also a list of integumentary structures, and procedures. Finally, there is a list of some diseases and conditions related to the integumentary system.

If you need a background on how medical terms are formed, read the article on Medical Terminology Basics. Also, the article 11 Rules for Changing Singular Terms to Plural Terms is a good article for the use of singular and plural endings. And, as always, there is a review of suffixes and prefixes that can be used with any system.

Review of Prefixes

This section contains prefixes that are used for the medical terminology of most systems.

Prefixes are used at the beginning of a word to modify or vary the meaning of the word. When the prefixes are detached from a term, it is followed by a hyphen (-).

a-, an-no, not, without, away
brady- slow
dia-apart, through
end-, endo-within, inside
exo-outside of, without
epi- above
hyper- excessive
hypo- insufficient
inter- between
intra- middle
medial-situated or pertaining to the middle
normo- normal
per- through
peri- around
physio-, physi-related to nature or physiology
poly- many
pro-before, for, in front of, from, in behalf of, on account of
re-back, again
retro-behind, back, backward
sub-under, below, beneath, in small quantity, less than normal
syn-, sy-, syl-, sym-union or association
tachy- fast
trans- across, through, beyond, over
ultra- excess

Review of Suffixes

Below are some suffixes that can be used for the medical terminology of most systems. Suffixes are placed at the end of a word root or word part to modify or vary the meaning.

Suffixes can indicate a condition, disease or a procedure. When a suffix is written detached it is preceded by a hyphen (-).

-ac. -al, -ar, -aryPertaining to
-icPertaining to, characteristics
-ose, -ousPertaining to
-tic Pertaining to
-centesissurgical puncture as to aspirate or remove fluid
-cision process of cutting
-ectomyexcision (surgical removal or cutting out)
-grama drawing or a written record
-graphproduct of a drawing, writing or recording
-graphythe process of recording
-ia condition
-ism condition process, theory of, principle, method
-itis inflammation
-ologist one who studies
-ologystudy of
-lysisprocess of loosening, freeing, or destroying
-opsyto view
-osiscondition, status process
-otomycutting into
-ostomyformation of an opening
-plasty surgical repair
-pathy disease
-sclerosis hardening
-scope instrument for viewing
-scopyvisual examination with a lighted instrument
-sisstate of, condition
-stasis to stand, place, stop, control
-tension pressure
-ule small


Word Root and Combining Vowel for the Integumentary System

This is a list of word roots with their combining vowel used for the integumentary system.

Word RootDefinition
Melan(o)black or melanin
Seb(o)sebum, oil
Vesic(o)bladder or blister


Integumentary Specific Suffixes and Prefixes

Term Definition
Cryo-, cry-cold
Cut- skin
Cyst-pouch or bladder
Dermat, dermaskin
Epi-on or upon
Epiderm-, epidermo-epidermis
Fiss-cleft or split
-rrheafluid discharge or flow

Integumentary Specialties

This is a list of the specialists that diagnose and treat conditions related to the integumentary system.

Term Definition
DermatologyDerm(o) means skin
-logy means the study of.
A division of medicine that diagnoses and treat conditions of the skin, hair, and nails.
DermatologistDerm(o) means skin
-logist means one who studies.
A physician specializing in the treatment of the skin and accessory structures.
Plastic SurgeryA branch of medicine that treats conditions of the integumentary system
Plastic SurgeonA physician that repairs, improves and reconstructs damaged body structures.

The Structure and Functions of the Integumentary System

The integumentary system protects the body against pathogens, regulates body temperature, provides sensory input and synthesizes vitamin D.

The components of the integumentary system consist of the skin, hair, and nails. Below is a list of structures and functions of the integumentary system.

Term Definition
Apocrine sweat glandThe apocrine glands are a dermal sudoriferous (sweat) gland that secretes at the groin, armpits and anal region.
CuticleCuticula means little skin.
The cuticle is the sheath of the hair follicle.
Also, the fold of tissue that covers the nail root.
DermisDerm- means skin.
The dermis is the layer of skin directly below the epidermis. This layer contains blood vessels (capillaries), nerve endings, sebaceous glands, hair follicles, elastic fibers, collagenous fibers, involuntary muscles, lymph vessels, and sweat glands.
Eccrine sweat glandsThe eccrine glands are sudoriferous (sweat) glands that secrete at the palms of the hand, feet, forehead and upper lip.
EpidermisEpi- means on or upon.
The epidermis is the top layer of the skin. The epidermis layer does not have blood vessels and does not contain nerve endings.
HairHair is a filament of keratin that grows from a follicle root and covers most of the body.
Hair follicleA hair follicle is an opening into the dermis which the hair shaft develops.
HyponychiumHyponychial means subungual
Sub- means below or beneath.
Ungual means pertaining to the fingernail.
The hyponychium is the area where the nail body is attached just below the free edge.
KeratinKerat- means horny.
Keratin is a fibrous protein that is the primary component of the epidermis, hair, and nails.
LunulaLuna- means moon.
The lunula is the opaque moon-shaped area at the base of the nail.
MelaninMelan- means black or melanin
Melanin is the black or dark brown pigment of skin or hair.
MelanocytesMelan(o) means black or melanin
-cyte mean cell.
A melanocytes is a cell that produces the dark pigment melanin.
Sebaceous glandsSebaceous pertains to sebum.
Sebaceous glands are oil glands. The sebaceous glands secrete oil called sebum.
SebumSeb- means sebum.
Sebum is an oily secretion from the sebaceous gland that keeps the skin and hair from drying out.
Stratum corneumStrati- means layer.
Stratum is a uniformly thick layer.
Corneus means horny or keratic.
The stratum corneum is the outer layer of the epidermis composed of dead skin cells that flake away.
Subcutaneous fasciaSub- means below or beneath
Cut- means skin.
Cutaneous means pertaining to the skin.
Subcutaneous means beneath the skin
Fascia is a fibrous connective membrane.
The subcutaneous fascia is the bottom layer of the skin. This layer is composed of connective and fatty tissue.
Sudoriferous glandSudo- means sweat
Sudoriferous glands are the sweat glands.

Procedures of the Integumentary System

Term Definition
CryosurgeryCryo- means cold.
Cryosurgery is a surgery that uses subfreezing temperatures to destroy tissue. This procedure can be used to treat cancers or lesion of the skin.
CurettageCurette means to scoop.
Curettage is the scraping of tissue from a surface for microscopic examination.
ElectrodesiccationElectro- means electricity.
Desiccare means to dry up.
Electrodesiccation is a technique which destroys tissue by burning it with an electric spark.
FaceliftA surgery in which the skin of the face is tightened and wrinkles and other signs of aging of the skin are eliminated.
A facelift is also known as a rhytidoplasty.
Rhytid- means wrinkle.
Plasty- means surgical repair.
LiposuctionLipo- means fat or adipose.
Suction means to draw or aspirate a liquid or semi-liquid.
Liposuction is the removal of adipose tissue with the use of a suction device.
PhototherapyPhoto- means light.
Therapy is the treatment of any disease.
Phototherapy is the treatment of a disorder using light. Phototherapy can be used to treat skin conditions.
Punch biopsyA punch biopsy is the removal of living tissue for examination.
Skin graftA skin graft is when a portion of the skin is implanted to cover another area where the skin has been lost.

Skin Lesions, Diseases, and Conditions of the Integumentary System

Term Definition
AcneAcne is a disorder of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles in which pimples, cysts that are infected or abscesses occur.
AlopeciaAlopecia is the lack of hair due to conditions such as normal aging, skin disorders, anticancer medications, or endocrine disorders.
Beau’s lineBeau’s line is named for a French physician named Joseph Beau.
Beau’s line is a white line that occurs across the nails due to a transverse impression that is caused by illnesses such as malnutrition or thyroid dysfunctions.
Birthmarks Birthmarks are flat areas of discoloration on the skin that are usually brown or tan.
CarbuncleA carbuncle is a large area of staphylococcal infection appearing as clusters of deep abscesses.
CarcinomaCarcin- means cancer.
-oma means tumor.
-carcinoma means malignant tumor.
A carcinoma is a malignant neoplasm composed of epithelial cells that invade surrounding tissue and metastasize to different areas of the body.
CellulitisCellular is consisting of cells.
-itis means inflammation.
Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin that is localized and characterized by heat, swelling, pain and other signs of inflammation.
ClubbingClubbing is an abnormal enlargement of the distal end of the fingers and the angle of the nail is greater than 160 degrees where it meets the cuticle.
CrustA crust is a hard layer that is formed by the drying of body fluids.
CyanosisCyan(o) means blue.
-osis means condition.
Cyanosis is a bluish tone to the skin. This is due to a decrease in the oxygenation to the tissue.
CystCyst- means pouch or bladder
A cyst is a closed pouch under the skin that contains a fluid or a semisolid substance.
DermatitisDermato- means skin.
-itis means inflammation.
Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin.
EcchymosisEcchymosis is an area of bluish discoloration on the skin caused by the spilling of blood into the subcutaneous tissue caused by some type of trauma to the area. Ecchymosis is also known as a bruise.
EczemaEczema is dermatitis of unknown cause.
ErythemaErythem(o) means red
Erythema is a reddish color to the skin. This occurs when there is a rush of blood to the surface of the skin. Erythema is usually associated with a fever or some type of localized inflammation.
FissureFiss- means cleft or split.
A fissure is a cleft or a groove of the skin.
FolliculitisFolliculitis is the inflammation of the hair follicle.
FreckleFreckles are patches of melanin pigmentation that occur normally or when the skin is exposed to the sun in some patients.
FuruncleA furuncle is a staphylococcal infection that originates from the hair follicle.
HemangiomaHemangi- means a condition of the blood vessel or a collection of blood vessels.
-oma means tumor.
A hemangioma is a benign tumor that is a collection of blood vessels.
HematomaHemat(o) means blood or blood vessel.
-oma means tumor.
A hematoma is a collection of blood that is trapped in the skin tissue that is a result of trauma.
Herpes SimplexHerpes Simplex is an infection that is caused by the herpes simplex virus that affects the skin and nervous system.
JaundiceJaundice is a yellow tint to the skin, mucous membranes or the sclera of the eye. This is due to increased levels of serum bilirubin in the blood.
KeloidKel- is a tumor or fibrous growth.
A keloid is an overgrowth of scar tissue after an injury or surgery.
Keratosis (Actinic)Actinic means ray or radiation.
Keratosis is an area of the skin that is overgrown or thickened.
Actinic keratosis is thickening of the outer layer of the skin caused by prolonged exposure to sunlight.
MaculeA macule is a discoloration of the skin that is flat and level with the skin.
MelanomaMelan(o) pertains to melanocytes.
-oma means tumor.
A melanoma is a malignant neoplasm of the skin that is composed of melanocytes.
MoleMoles are an excessive growth of melanocytes. They are usually small, smooth and symmetrical.
NoduleNod- means knot.
A nodule is a small node-like structure that is solid and elevated.
OnycholysisOnych(o) means the nail.
-lysis is the process of loosening.
Onycholysis is the loosening or separation of a nail from its bed.
PallorPallor is when there is a loss of the pinkish tones of the skin due to the lack of blood flow to the surface of the skin or a decrease in blood cells. The skin takes on a whitish color.
PapuleA papule is a skin lesion that is small, solid and raised caused by thickening of the epidermis.
PetechiaePetechiae are tiny red or purple spots on the skin that are due to numerous tiny hemorrhages in the dermal layer.
PruritusPruritus is itchy skin.
PsoriasisPsoriasis is a skin disorder that is chronic and is characterized by red patchy areas that is also covered by a dry silvery scale.
PurpuraPrupur- means purple.
Purpura is a bleeding disorder that is due to hemorrhage into the tissue of the skin which causes ecchymosis or petechiae.
PustuleA pustule is a small elevation on the skin that contains pus, a creamy viscous fluid.
ScaleA scale is a thin flake of epithelium that has keratinized.
Scar tissueScar tissue is skin that is replaced by collagen fibers that do not contain any accessory organs that the layers of the skin normally contain.
SeborrheaSeb- means sebum.
-rrhea means fluid discharge or flow.
Seborrhea is an overproduction of sebum which causes excessive oiliness.
UlcerAn ulcer is a crater in the skin as a result of necrosis. An ulcer can be shallow or deep and can be accompanied by an infection or inflammation.
UrticariaUrticaria is a skin eruption that has wheals of various shapes that have red margins and a pale center.
VesicleVesic(o) means bladder or blister.
A vesicle is a small bladder or blister that contains a clear fluid.
VitiligoVitiligo is a skin disease of unknown caused that is benign and characterized by irregular patches of skin that lack pigment.
WhealA wheal is an area of the skin that is slightly raised and appears either redder or paler than the surrounding skin.


Mosby’s Medical Dictionary (2017). 10th ed. St Louis, MO. Elsevier Inc.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitution for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you chose to use this information.

Systems of Medication Measurement