Getting to Know the Skin Better (The Dermis Edition)

The skin has three layers. The epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous fat. The epidermis is what we see or the outside layer. So what is the dermis? Let us get deeper into the skin and get a better understanding of the next layer down.

All About the Dermis

If you go beneath the layer of the skin that you see, you would find the dermis. The dermis is not visible because this layer of the skin is under the epidermis. So what would you find in the dermis? You will find nerve endings, blood vessels, oil and sweat glands. The dermis alo houses collagen and elastin. These substances are tough and elastic.

Ever wondered how it is possible that you have the sense of touch? We know how things feel when we touch them because of the nerve endings contained in the dermis. These nerve endings send a message to your brain through the nervous system so that the sensation that the skin felt when touching an object can be interpreted by the brain. This is how you know if what you’re touching is hot, cold, soft, rough etc.

The nerve endings in your dermis are actually quite amazing. Most probably you have experienced touching something really hot and instinctively and in an instant you moved your hand away. This is actually because your nerve endings also work together with your muscles to protect you from getting hurt. In a split second, the nerve endings would communicate a signal to the brain and the brain would then automatically command the muscles to react. You have noticed how quickly we take away our hand once we’ve touched something scalding hot. We don’t even have to think about removing our hand. It’s an instinctive reflex.

If you take a tour in the dermis you would find tons of blood vessels. The tiny blood vessels found in the dermis are responsible for keeping the skin cells healthy. These tiny blood vessels carry oxygen and nutrients to the cells and at the same time they take away waste.

What else can you find in the dermis? Your oil glands of course! Oil glands also referred to as sebaceous glands produce a substance called sebum. This is the skin’s natural oil. Why is it important? Well sebum is actually a protective layer of the skin. Your oil glands in the dermis produce sebum and your sweat glands in the epidermis produce sweat and when they meet in your pores they actually form a thin protective barrier for your skin. Sebum also is the skin’s natural lubricant so that the skin does not get dry. It also makes the skin a bit waterproof. If we don’t have sebum, the skin would be absorbing water therefore it would become soggy.

Even though you do not see the dermis, it has a significant function for your body. Seeing your skin in a different light already? The skin is the largest organ we have and this is in fact our first defence against foreign invaders. The skin still has a third layer. Do you know what it is?