Together with its derivatives such as sweat and oil glands, nails and hair the skin make up a complex set of organs that form the integumentary system. The integumentary system performs a number of different functions, including:

  • Protection against chemical, physical and biological damage;
  • Helping to maintain a constant body temperature;
  • Detection of stimuli in the external environment;
  • Synthesis of important biological compounds such as vitamin D and collagenase;
  • Providing a significant blood reservoir, stored within the dermal vasculature;
  • Excretion of excess water, salt and nitrogenous metabolic wastes through the process of sweating.

Global modelling initiatives

Globally, several different skin modelling initiatives exist. Some of the characteristics of skin that scientists are trying to capture in mathematical models include: the mechanical and elastic properties of skin as a soft tissue; skin pigmentation; and wound healing and scar tissue formation. The latter topic is being studied by: