Body Parts: Derma

Get the skinny on skin-related words in this list.

For more dissections of words with Latin and Greek anatomy, check out these lists: corpus, caput, ora, os, dens, gaster, neuron, manus, ped, podos, derma, carnem, os, cor, kardia, psyche

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. dermal
    relating to or existing on or affecting the skin
    “Skin tattoos don’t hold up either if they are not administered deeply enough because of replacement of dermal cells.”Forbes (May 12, 2015)
    derma (skin) + al (suffix forming adjectives)
    When the ink for a tattoo is injected, the skin cells' immediate response is to get rid of it by shedding. But if the needle goes deep enough, then the body's immune system heals around the ink and traps it inside the skin. Through time, skin changes, ink moves, and tattoos can look very different from the images that had been chosen.
  2. dermatologist
    a doctor who specializes in the physiology of the skin
    Dermatologists generally recommend sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, has an SPF of 30 or higher and is water-resistant.US News (May 19, 2015)
    derma (skin) + logy (suffix meaning "science") + ist (suffix meaning "one who does or makes")
    SPF stands for sun protection factor. With sunscreen that has an SPF of 30, your skin would take 30 times longer to burn. But no matter the SPF, sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours to protect against the ultraviolet rays that can make skin wrinkly, sagging, tough, and cancerous.
  3. dermatitis
    inflammation of the skin
    “Other skin-related problems – such as eczema, body lice, insect bites, fungal infections and various other forms of dermatitis – can make a person susceptible to impetigo.”US News (Jan 26, 2015)
    derma (skin) + itis (suffix meaning "inflammation")
    As the example sentence suggests, "dermatitis" and "eczema" are synonyms that refer to any inflammation of the skin (the Greek verb "zein" means "to boil"). Both can lead to impetigo, which is a skin infection that is contagious because the blisters and sores erupt and leak (the Latin verb "impetere" means "to attack").
  4. dermabrasion
    removal of scars or tattoos by anesthetizing the skin surface and then sanding or scraping off some of the outer skin layer
    There is an almost erotic pleasure in twisting your naked feet into this cool sand: nature’s dermabrasion treatment.Washington Post
    derma (skin) + ab (prefix meaning "off") + radere (to scrape) + ion (suffix forming nouns)
    The roots and definition suggest a painful process, while the example sentence describes dermabrasion as a day at the beach. In addition to removing scars and tattoos, dermabrasion can make skin smoother (also called "dermaplaning"). There are also non-surgical microdermabrasion treatments, which can involve applying creams with tiny rough grains.
  5. pachyderm
    a large mammal with thick skin, such as an elephant or hippo
    Elephant polo — yes, polo played atop pachyderms instead of ponies — is gaining popularity in England.Seattle Times (Sep 24, 2011)
    pachys (thick, large) + derma (skin)
    Other examples of pachyderms are: rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, people who are not easily hurt by criticism or ridicule, and members of Republican clubs.
  6. echinoderm
    marine invertebrates with tube feet and five-part radially symmetrical bodies
    Because, of course, sea stars are echinoderms, not fish.The Verge (Nov 18, 2014)
    ekhinos (sharp points) + derma (skin)
    Echidnas and echinoderms both have sharp points, but the former are egg-laying land mammals that resemble porcupines, while echinoderms are marine creatures such as sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and the wrongly named starfish. The different, sometimes changing, colors of echinoderms are due to pigment cells in their skin that combine and react to light.
  7. scleroderma
    an autoimmune disease that affects the blood vessels and connective tissue; fibrous connective tissue is deposited in the skin
    The symptoms and severity of scleroderma can vary, making it difficult to accomplish everyday tasks or, in some cases, threatening vital organs.New York Times (Jul 28, 2010)
    skleros (hard) + derma (skin)
    As the definition and example sentence show, scleroderma, unlike pachyderma, affects more than the skin. It is a systemic form of sclerosis (a hardening of tissue and other body parts) that can lead to dysfunctions, disabilities, and other fatal diseases.
  8. intradermal
    relating to areas between the layers of the skin
    But standard intradermal or subcutaneous injection of irradiated sporozoites has failed to protect humans against malaria.Nature (Apr 25, 2012)
    intra (prefix meaning "within, inside") + derma (skin) + al (suffix forming adjectives)
    The Latin prefix "sub" means "under" and the noun "cutis" means "skin." Compared to an intradermal or intracutaneous injection, a subcutaneous one is deeper and faster in its delivery of medicine.
  9. epidermis
    the outer layer of skin covering the body surface
    Your body sheds skin cells so quickly that you have an entire new layer of epidermis every month.Washington Post
    epi (prefix meaning "on, above") + derma (skin)
    The skin has 3 layers: epidermis (waterproof protection against microbes), dermis (contains connective tissue, hair follicles, sweat glands, and blood vessels to provide cushion, nourishment, and waste removal), hypodermis (contains fat and connective tissue to insulate and attach to bone and muscle).
  10. endoderm
    the inner germ layer that develops into the lining of the digestive and respiratory systems
    During embryonic development, all the body's organs and tissues develop from one of the three germ layers: endoderm, mesoderm and ectoderm.Nature (Feb 29, 2012)
    endo (prefix meaning "within, inside") + derma (skin)
    The responsibilities of the 3 germ layers are suggested by their prefixes: "meso" means "middle" and "ecto" means "outside." Thus, the origin of the skin is the ectoderm; muscle, connective tissue, bone, and blood vessels come from the mesoderm; and the endoderm is sometimes called the gastrodermis, because it gives rise to most of the digestive system.
  11. transdermal
    through the unbroken skin
    The doc soothed me, stroking my hand, and in the process pressed a transdermal on my wrist.Doctorow, Cory
    trans (prefix meaning "across, through") + derma (skin) + al (suffix forming adjectives)
    The example sentence uses the adjective as a stand-alone noun (it often modifies the noun "patch"). A transdermal patch seems less painful than a hypodermic needle, but it delivers the medication more slowly, and its continued presence can cause dermatitis.
  12. hypodermic
    relating to or located below the epidermis
    One in 10 of us are said to have a fear of the hypodermic needle, a necessary but frequently uncomfortable fact of medical life.BBC (Dec 5, 2014)
    hypo (prefix meaning "under, beneath") + derma (skin) + ic (suffix forming adjectives)
    As an adjective, "hypodermic" is synonymous with "intradermal" but as a noun, it refers to "a piston syringe that is fitted with a needle for injections." The fear of hypodermic needles is called trypanophobia, but the hole created by its injection is not as big as the one needed for a trepan to remove sections of bone from the skull.
  13. taxidermy
    the art of mounting the skins of animals
    Some smaller animals, like mice and rabbits, often end up wearing clothes and posed in atypical positions — this is called rogue taxidermy.New York Times (Apr 12, 2015)
    taxis (arrangement, order) + derma (skin) + y (suffix forming nouns)
    In comparison to rogue taxidermy, traditional taxidermy aims to keep the animal skins and poses as lifelike as possible in order to show them off as hunting trophies or display them in natural history museums.

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.