Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Erysipelas Anatomy

To better understand erysipelas, 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 Erysipelas References
  1. Bonnetblanc JM, Bedane C. Erysipelas: recognition and management. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2003;4(3):157-63. [12627991]
  2. Dupuy A, Benchikhi H, Roujeau JC, Bernard P, et al. Risk factors for erysipelas of the leg (cellulitis): case-control study. BMJ. 1999 Jun 12;318(7198):1591-4. [10364117]
  3. Roldan YB, Mata-Essayag S, Hartung C. Erysipelas and tinea pedis. Mycoses. 2000;43(5):181-3. [10948816]
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