Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Epidermolysis Bullosa Anatomy

To better understand epidermolysis bullosa, 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 10, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Epidermolysis Bullosa References
  1. Lim KK, Su WP, McEvoy MT, Pittelkow MR. Generalized gravis junctional epidermolysis bullosa: case report, laboratory evaluation, and review of recent advances. Mayo Clin Proc. 1996 Sep;71(9):863-8. [8790263 ]
  2. Ozanic Bulic S, Fassihi H, Mellerio JE, McGrath JA, Atherton DJ. Thalidomide in the management of epidermolysis bullosa pruriginosa. Br J Dermatol. 2005 Jun;152(6):1332-4. [15949003]
  3. Vodegel RM, de Jong MC, Pas HH, Jonkman MF. IgA-mediated epidermolysis bullosa acquisita: two cases and review of the literature. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Dec;47(6):919-25. [12451379]
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