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(2) Skin Disorders

The skin is composed of the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous layers. The top part of the epidermis is the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum and its surrounding lipid bilayer are composed primarily of ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol.

 What are the layers of the skin, and what are their functions?

When these constituents are present in the proper proportion, they form the “skin barrier,” which functions like a brick wall (keratinocytes) covered by mortar (the lipid bilayer). This barrier protects the skin and keeps it watertight. Special cells in the epidermis called melanocytes produce brown pigment that helps to protect you from ultraviolet light.

The dermis, or middle layer, provides a tough, yet flexible, foundation for the epidermis. Sweat glands and blood vessels help to regulate body temperature, and nerve endings send the sensations of pain, itching, touch, and temperature to the brain. Sebum helps to moisturize the skin. Hair has a primarily decorative function in humans. Under the dermis, the fat provides insulation and helps to store calories.

Terms:

Epidermis - The outmost layer of the skin. It is visible to the naked eye and is comprised of stratified squamous epithelium.

Dermis - The layer of skin found between the epidermis and the subcutaneous tissue.

Subcutaneous layer - The tissue that separates the dermis from the underlying connective tissue.

Keratinocytes - The cell type that comprises a majority of the epidermis.

 

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