ABPI - Resources for Schools

"Thank you all this information is really going to help me with my kidney project that I was assigned in biology, especially the pictures that make it easier to understand."

- Student

Skin structure and function

Age range 14-16

Page 1 of 5

What is skin?

Skin is the outer covering of vertebrate animals. It is the largest organ of the body and has many different functions. In other animals skin sometimes has mucous producing glands, the ability to change colour, thick fur, scales feathers or horns. In this e-source we´ll be looking at human skin.


Skin is important

Skin is very important as it covers and protects everything inside your body. Without skin, your bones, muscles and organs would be hanging out all over the place! Skin holds everything together. It also protects our bodies, helps keep our bodies at just the right temperature and, through nerve endings close to the surface of the skin, allows us to have the sense of touch.

However skin can become infected with bacteria, viruses and fungi, and can be irritated by chemicals or other substances it is in contact with.

Skin is also exposed to sunlight, and can suffer as a result.

Find out more about what your skin does for you, and how it works in this e-source.

Two ducks with bright feathers stand on the pavement
A spring lamb with its woolly coat stands in a field
An elephant with rough grey skin stands in front of a tree
A fish with shiny scales swims against a dark background

All vertebrates have skin.

Using this e-source

There are a number of interactive features in this e-source:

  • A glossary of terms: any word with a glossary entry is highlighted like this.
  • Quick questions: at the end of a page/section, there is a set of quick questions to test your understanding of the scientific ideas.
  • Animations: most of the animations can be expanded to full screen size, ideal for showing on an interactive whiteboard. The animations will play all the way through or can be viewed one section at a time.
  • Downloads: Teachers can download individual diagrams, animations and other content from the Resource Library area of the website. Terms and Conditions apply.

If you are printing from an Internet Explorer (IE) browser, please go to 'print preview' and adjust the preferred print zoom level to 85% . This will ensure that all content on the ABPI modules will print out correctly.

A list of often difficult or specialised words with their definitions