Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Chronic Rash Anatomy

To better understand dermatitis, it helps to understand the anatomy of the skin.

The skin contains three main layers:

  • Epidermis:
    • The superficial layer that makes up the surface of the skin
    • It is composed of skin cells and can be divided into 5 layers based on cell type.
    • The top layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum, is made of dead, flat skin cells that shed about every 2 weeks.
    • The thickness of the epidermis varies, according to location: it is very thick over the soles of the feet, and very thin over the ears.
  • Dermis:
    • Lies beneath the epidermis
    • Also varies in thickness depending on the location of the skin. It is .3 mm on the eyelid and 3.0 mm on the back.
    • The dermis is composed of 2 layers that contain a connective tissue called collagen
    • The dermis contains blood vessels, nerves, sweat glands, and hair follicles.
    • The number of structures in the dermis varies, according to location.
    • The dermis under the arms contains more sweat glands and hair follicles than the dermis on the back.
  • Subcutaneous layer:
    • Mainly fat and connective tissue.
    • Contains blood vessels and nerves.

Last Updated: Dec 9, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Chronic Rash References
  1. Beltrani VS. Suggestions regarding a more appropriate understanding of atopic dermatitis. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005 Oct;5(5):413-8. [16131916]
  2. Lynde C, Barber K, Claveau J, Gratton D, Ho V, Krafchik B, Langley R, Marcoux D, Murray E, Shear N. Canadian Practical Guide for the Treatment and Management of Atopic Dermatitis. J Cutan Med Surg. 2005 Jun 30. [15983864]
  3. Santer M, Lewis-Jones S, Fahey T. Childhood eczema. BMJ. 2005 Sep 3;331(7515):497. [16141156]
  4. Williams HC. Clinical practice. Atopic dermatitis. N Engl J Med. 2005 Jun 2;352(22):2314-24. [15930422]
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