What is skin?

The skin is divided into two main layers. These include:

  • epidermis (outer layer)

  • dermis (inner layer)

The epidermis contains three types of cells. On the surface are flat cells, known as squamous cells. Under these are round cells called basal cells. In between the basal cells are melanocytes.

The dermis contains nerve endings, blood vessels, and oil and sweat glands. It’s held together by a protein called collagen.

The hypodermis (subcutaneous fat and connective tissue) attaches the skin to bone and muscles, as well as supplying blood vessels and nerves.

What does the skin do?

The skin is the largest organ in the body with many purposes including:

  • acting as a barrier to protect the body from injury and infection

  • helping to maintain the body’s temperature

  • protecting the body from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) light

  • keeping necessary fluids and proteins in the body

  • detecting the sensations of touch, heat and cold.

Layers of the skin