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Wound Care (cont.)

Wound Overview

The skin is a large sensory organ that interacts with the environment, and sends signals to the brain about touch, pain, vibration, and position.

There are two layers of skin that cover the body, the epidermis and dermis.

The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin, the part that can be seen, and is very active with new skin cells being formed and gradually being shed. There are different kinds of epidermal cells:

  • Keratinocytes are the main skin cells that we see. New epidermal cells begin where the epidermis and dermis meet. These cells gradually mature and rise to the surface of the skin and are eventually shed to be replaced by new ones. The epidermis has no blood vessels and receives nutrition from the underlying dermis.
  • Melanocytes contain pigment and provide coloration to the skin and are responsible for absorbing radiation and protecting against the damage caused by ultraviolet radiation.
  • Langerhan cells are made in the bone marrow and migrate to the surface of the skin and help fight infection.
  • Merkel cells are specialized skin cells that help with sensing light touch. They are located on the tips of fingers and toes as well as other specialized areas.

The dermis is the deeper layer of skin. It has two layers that are responsible for supporting the epidermis:

  • The papillary dermis is a thin layer of tissue located just beneath the epidermis and contains capillary blood vessels and a few elastic and collagen fibers.
  • The deeper reticular dermis contains large bundles of collagen and elastic fibers that run parallel to the skin surface. The collagen and elastic fibers are responsible for helping the skin resist injury from shearing or other types of trauma, and allow the skin to return to its resting state after being stretched or compressed. This is the layer where hair follicles, sweat glands and sebaceous glands are found.

Subcutaneous fat tissue underlies the layers of epidermis and dermis and provides extra cushioning for the skin. Beneath this layer lie muscle and bone.

Picture of the layers of the skin including the epidermis and dermis layers

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/14/2014

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