Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Skin Blemishes Anatomy

To better understand acne, 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: Nov 22, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Skin Blemishes References
  1. James WD. Clinical practice. Acne. N Engl J Med. 2005 Apr 7;352(14):1463-72. [15814882]
  2. Magin P, Pond D, Smith W, Watson A. A systematic review of the evidence for 'myths and misconceptions' in acne management: diet, face-washing and sunlight. Fam Pract. 2005 Feb;22(1):62-70. [15644386]
  3. Marks R. Acne and its management beyond the age of 35 years. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2004;5(6):459-62. [15663343]
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