How many layers of skin do humans have?
Were you taught in school that we have 3 layers of skin? What if I told you that this statement is only partially correct? If you consult a medical textbook you will see the three layers labeled and described as such: The epidermis is the top layer of skin. This layer is for making new skin cells, provides a waterproof barrier, gives skin its color and is your protective layer. The dermis which is responsible for supply blood to your skin, hair growth, and the production of sebum (oil) and sweat. Lastly, the hypodermis which is basically made of connective tissue and fat and good for regulating your body temperature (1, 2, 3).
However, what if I told you we really have 8 layers of skin?
Let’s look at the breakdown:
The epidermis is actually divided into five layers. From outside to inside we have the Stratum corneum, Stratum lucidum, Stratum granulosum, Stratum spinosum and Stratum basale.
The dermis is divided into two layers the papillary dermis and the reticular dermis.
I was second guessing myself on whether to count this as a layer or not. Although in almost every medical text it is listed as the “3 layers of skin”, it is really just subcutaneous fat and connective tissue. Also if you dig deeper into the word Hypo in Greek means “under” and subcutaneous which has a Latin origin means “situated or lying under the skin, as tissue” (4, 5). Although I would count it as a layer, I wanted to clarify my position with the experts. I reached out to Michael S. Fisher, Ph.D., M.D. and asked if he would consider this a layer. He graciously took the time to reply to my email and stated: “Even though the hypodermis is fat, the skin needs the fat to build the dermis and epidermis on. Because of this, I would have to say 8 and count the hypodermis as part of the skin”.
So here you have it, we have eight layers of skin. Although not a life changing fact, this might get you an “oh, wow” or a “no way” or an ice breaker if you are dating an intellectual.
(1) HSE – Skin at work: Work-related skin disease – Skin structure and function. (2016). gov.uk. Retrieved 14 November 2016, from http://www.hse.gov.uk/skin/professional/causes/structure.htm
(2) Cold, F., Health, E., Disease, H., Management, P., Conditions, S., & Problems, S. et al. (2016). The Skin (Human Anatomy): Picture, Definition, Function, and Skin Conditions. WebMD. Retrieved 14 November 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/picture-of-the-skin#1
(3) The layers of your skin | American Academy of Dermatology. (2016). Aad.org. Retrieved 14 November 2016, from https://www.aad.org/public/kids/skin/the-layers-of-your-skin
(4) hypo-. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved November 15, 2016 from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/hypo-
(5) subcutaneous. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved November 15, 2016 from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/subcutaneous