A Guide to Your Skin’s Dermal Layer
Your skin is your body’s largest organ, covering 22 square feet and weighing approximately 8 pounds in adults. Your skin protects you from extreme temperatures, damaging sunlight and dangerous chemicals.
It’s composed of three layers: the epidermis, the outer protective layer; dermis, middle layer; and hypodermis, subcutaneous tissue. The dermis is a thick layer of connective tissue that gives the skin its strength and flexibility. The dermis contains most of your skin’s specialized cells and structures. It regulates body temperature and supplies the epidermis with nutrient-rich blood. The dermis is where acne forms, and it’s also the skin layer responsible for wrinkles.
The dermis contains:
- Collagen. Most of your dermis is made of collagen. Collagen is skin’s primary protein, comprising 75 percent of your skin. Collagen supports your skin, giving it structure and strength. According to WebMD, collagen is your “fountain of youth,” because it’s responsible for warding off wrinkles and fine lines.
- Elastin. This protein gives your skin structure and elasticity. Elastin allows your skin to spring back into place when it’s stretched.
- Nerve endings. These are what sense pain, touch and temperature.
- Blood vessels. These provide nutrients for your skin and help regulate body temperature. Blood vessels increase blood flow to the skin, causing you to flush, and allow heat to escape or reduce blood flow when it’s cold.
- Sebaceous oil glands. Oil from these glands is secreted into hair follicles. Oil moistens and softens the skin and protects it against an overgrowth of bacteria and fungi. When the oil glands produce too much sebum, the extra oil can clog the pores and produce acne. If bacteria get into the pores, you can wind up with swelling, redness and pus, aka pimples.
- Hair follicles. Hair found on your body grows from these tiny openings. Hair regulates body temperature, protects against injury and enhances sensation.
- Sweat glands. These hardworking glands produce sweat in response to heat or stress. As sweat evaporates, it takes heat with it, cooling your body. Sweating also removes waste fluids such as urea and lactate from your body.
What happens to your dermis as you get older?
Most of the age-related changes that occur in your skin happen in the dermis. As you age, your skin cells divide more slowly, and the dermis begins to thin. The dermis can lose from 20 to 80 percent of its thickness during the aging process. The network of collagen and elastin fibers loosens and unravels, causing depressions or wrinkles on the skin’s surface. During aging, your skin loses its elasticity and doesn’t retain moisture as well. Your oil-secreting glands become less efficient. These factors all contribute to the development of wrinkles.
How does micro-needling affect the dermis?
Medical micro-needling uses needles (.5 mm and longer) to create micro-injuries to the dermis. When your dermis is injured, your skin repairs itself by triggering a natural wound-healing process that produces collagen. SkinPen needles reach the papillary dermis to improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and longer SkinPen needles reach the deep dermis, making it possible to soften the appearance of acne and other scars by breaking up scar tissue and assisting in your skin’s natural ability to induce skin remodeling.