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Women’s Cancer Communication Project

Coordinated by the European Institute of Women’s Health

The Epidermis

The Epidermis is the thinner outer layer of the skin. It is made up of a layer of cells which protect the body’s inner cells from germs and harmful substances. New cells formed at the base of the epidermis slowly move up to the surface. By the time they reach the surface they are dead. The dead skin cells are then discarded naturally, to make way for new cells. Thus, one of the main functions of the epidermis is cell renewal. The epidermis also acts as a barrier to preserve moisture, vitamins, minerals and proteins.

The Dermis

The Dermis is a layer of tissue that is deeper and thicker than the epidermis. It contains the hair roots which are contained in a hair follicle. Each follicle contains one or more oil glands which produce sebum. Sebum is an oily substance that conditions the hair and skin. Sweat glands begin in the dermis. Some of these sweat glands open into hair follicles while others open directly to the top layer of skin, the Epidermis. The Dermis contains the sense organs for touch, pressure, pain and temperature. Nerve fibres and blood vessels reside in the dermis.

The Subcutaneous Layer

The Subcutaneous layer lies below the dermis. It is made up of loose connective tissue, including a tissue called the adipose. This helps to insulate the body by monitoring heat gain and heat loss. If this layer is overdeveloped, the signs of obesity or being overweight occur.


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