Dermatology Series: An Introduction

Californians Like Girls in String Bikinis. What better way for medical student to memorize the layers of the epidermis, right? Now if you’re not being tested (as nearly all of you are not) – who cares then?

Well on our goal is not just to sell you stuff to put on your skin or hair; but we also want to educate you. That’s why we’ve decided to do a series of articles this month covering various benign and malignant skin issues prior to our big announcement on April 1st. But to understand any of that and to perhaps understand what any of the stuff being put on your face actually do, means there’s got to be some basic understanding of structure & function. So… let us get started.

Californians Like Girls in String Bikinis = Stratum Corneum, Lucidum, Granulosum, Spinosum, Basale. These five beauties make up the epidermis which lays on top of the dermis which lays on top of subcutaneous fat. What is quite interesting about the epidermis is the entire lack of blood supply & abundance of keratinocytes. Ultimately, the function and purpose of the epidermis is providing an effective barrier to the outside world.

Few things are of interest to the average person. The most important is probably the effects of stress on the skin. Internally when we experience stress we get a rise in a stress hormone called cortisol. Many organs are negatively affected and the skin is no exception. The stratum corneum (outer most layer of the epidermis) has its structure & function compromised which decreases its ability to be an effective barrier. The stratum corneum also falls victim to dry air (hence why moisturizing is important!). Lastly, skin color! We as humans vary in skin color due to the pigment known as melanin. This pigment is present in the epidermis and is found in melanosomes which are made in melanocytes. This variance is because difference races have different distributions of melanosomes as well as varying sizes.

Hopefully that was an educational introduction to the structural basics of dermatology. Next up… common skin disorders.