Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Erythema Nodosum Anatomy

To better understand erythema nodosum, 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 Erythema Nodosum References
  1. De Carsalade GY, Achirafi A, Flageul B. Pentoxifylline in the treatment of erythema nodosum leprosum. J Dermatol. 2003 Jan;30(1):64-8. [12598712]
  2. Kaya TI, Tursen U, Baz K, Ikizoglu G, Dusmez D. Severe erythema nodosum due to Behcet's disease responsive to erythromycin. J Dermatolog Treat. 2003 Jun;14(2):124-7. [12775321]
  3. Requena L, Requena C. Erythema nodosum. Dermatol Online J. 2002 Jun;8(1):4. [12165214]
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