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Epidermis: Essential Skin Layers

The Epidermis is the upper or outer layer of the two main layers of cells that make up the skin. The epidermis is mostly made up of flat, scale-like cells called squamous cells.The epidermis contains five layers. Those layers are called stratum basale, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum lucidum, and stratum corneum.

Stratum Basale

The bottom layer, the stratum basale, has cells that are shaped like columns. In this layer the cells divide and push already formed cells into higher layers. As the cells move into the higher layers, they flatten and eventually die.

Stratum Spinosum

In the skin, the stratum spinosum is a multi-layered arrangement of cuboidal cells that lies on top of the stratum basale and beneath the stratum granulosum and contains tiny fibrils within its cellular cytoplasm. Also called the prickle cell layer.

Stratum Granulosum

Stratum granulosum is a layer of the epidermis found between the stratum lucidum and stratum spinosum. It contains three to five rows of flattened cells containing keratohyalin a substance that will become keratin.

Stratum Lucidum

The stratum lucidum is a thin, clear layer of dead skin cells in the epidermis, and is named for its translucent appearance under a microscope. It contains a clear substance called eleidin, which eventually becomes keratin. This layer is found beneath the stratum corneum of thick skin, and as such is only found on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.

Stratum Corneum

The top layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum, is made of dead, flat skin cells that shed about every two weeks. The deepest part of the epidermis also contains melanocytes. These cells produce melanin, which gives the skin its color.

Dermis

The other main layer of the skin is the dermis, the inner layer of skin, that contains blood and lymph vessels, hair follicles, and glands. These glands produce sweat, which helps regulate body temperature, and sebum, an oily substance that helps keep the skin from drying out. Sweat and sebum reach the skin's surface through tiny openings called pores.

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