The dermis is a layer of skin beneath the epidermis that consists of connective tissue, and cushions the body from stress and strain.The dermis is the lower layer of skin; contains main blood vessels. The dermis is tightly connected to the epidermis by a basement membrane, and harbors many nerve endings that provide the sense of touch and heat. It contains the hair follicles, sweat glands, sebaceous glands, apocrine glands, and blood vessels. The blood vessels in the dermis provide nourishment and waste removal to its own cells, as well as the Stratum basale of the epidermis.
The dermis is structurally divided into two areas: a superficial area adjacent to the epidermis, called the papillary region, and a deep thicker area known as the reticular region.
The papillary region is composed of loose areolar connective tissue. It is named for its fingerlike projections called papillae, which extend toward the epidermis. The papillae provide the dermis with a "bumpy" surface that interdigitates with the epidermis, strengthening the connection between the two layers of skin.
In the palms, fingers, soles, and toes, the influence of the papillae projecting into the epidermis forms contours in the skin's surface. These are called friction ridges, because they help the hand or foot to grasp by increasing friction. Friction ridges occur in patterns (see fingerprint) that are genetically determined and are therefore unique to the individual, making it possible to use fingerprints or footprints as a means of identification.
The reticular region lies deep to the papillary region and is usually much thicker. It is composed of dense irregular connective tissue, and receives its name from the dense concentration of collagenous, elastic, and reticular fibers that weave throughout it. These protein fibers give the dermis its properties of strength, extensibility, and elasticity.
Cross-section of all skin layers.
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- Diagrams at cdc.gov
- Diagram at cdc.gov
- Histology image: 08201oba – Histology Learning System at Boston University - "Integument: three layers, reticular dermis, papillary dermis "