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What are the Layers of Skin

By Mary Smith. Updated: January 16, 2017
What are the Layers of Skin

The skin is the outer tissue covering the entire body. Contrary to popular belief, skin is an organ. In fact, the skin is the largest organ in the body with a surface area of between 1.5-2.0 square metres (16.1-21.5 sq ft.). It has different levels and each level has different characteristics. Its structure consists of three layers: the hypodermis, the dermis and epidermis. In this OneHowTo article we explain what the layers of skin are.

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The hypodermis is the deepest layer of the skin. It is also known as the subcutaneous tissue or adipose tissue. It consists of a variety of adipocytes or fat cells arranged in lobes, which are separated bundles of collagen and elastic fibres called trabeculae. Fat is a very active metabolic tissue which, among other things, protects the body by providing cushioning and thermal insulation.

The functions of the hypodermis are:

  • Attaching the dermis to the muscles and bones
  • Storing body fat
  • Controlling body temperature
What are the Layers of Skin - Step 1
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The dermis is the middle layer of the skin and makes up the largest part of the skin. The dermis is what provides support for this organ. It consists of a complicated system of interlocking fibres that contain a substance called 'ground substance' in which a variety of cell types are found.

It is in this part where the skin appendages, which are the hair and nails, and glandular cells (sebaceous glands and sweat glands) are found. In addition there are the blood vessels that irritate the skin because the skin does not contain vessels or nerve endings.

The cells that make up the majority of the dermis are called fibroblasts. Its function is to produce collagen and elastin fibre, fundamental substances that make the skin smooth, flexible and elastic.

Other functions of the dermis include:

  • Producing sweat that goes through the sweat glands
  • Growing the hair that protects the epidermis
  • Allowing you to feel things through the nerve endings in this layer
What are the Layers of Skin - Step 2
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The epidermis is the outer layer and the only part of the skin that you can see. It consists of several layers of cells called keratinocytes, which form an impermeable barrier to most substances, protecting it from external agents. This area of the skin regenerates every two months and its main function is to keep the skin hydrated, protect us from solar radiation and renew cells.

These are the main functions of the epidermis:

  • Making new skin cells
  • Giving colour to the skin
  • Protecting the body agains external threats
What are the Layers of Skin - Step 3

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