It is important to understand epithelia in nursing because the primary function of the epithelia is to protect the body from injury and infection. Therefore, the status of the epithelia is key to the status of the body's health. The epithelia occur throughout the body, composing the skin and the inner surfaces of the organs. Stratified epithelia occur in layers for a reason: they shed their lining to reveal a fresh layer of cells. The skin and the linings of the esophagus and vagina are examples of this type of epithelia. Simple columnar epithelia line the digestive tract from the stomach to the anus and control the absorption of nutrients. Glands such as the skin's sweat glands and the stomach's gastric glands are formed by the inward growth of epithelium. Outward growth of epithelia produces hair, nails, and other structures. Since the epithelia are prone to diseases like cancer, they are of great importance in nursing because the integrity of the epithelia is a factor in the health of the body ("Epithelial Tissues").
Observation of the skin is a good indicator of a person's health, and if skin anomalies are evident the nurse can report her observations to the doctor for further investigation. Since evidence of allergic reactions (hives, rashes, flushing, pallor) appear in the skin, the nurse's observations may be the key to detecting adverse drug reactions in a timely manner. Many of the procedures nurses perform have to do with caring for the skin to reduce the risk of pathogenic organisms entering the body through a wound. Cleaning and dressing wounds and sores is essential to allow the body to heal in that area. The surgery performed by a doctor cannot save a patient