The dermis (dermis, corium) is the middle of the three layers of skin. Read more about the dermis: function and structure!


The Dermis (Corium) is the rough dermis, which consists of tight connective tissue. It lies as an intermediate layer under the epidermis (epidermis) and above the subcutis (subcutis). The dermis contains the sebaceous and sweat glands, hair follicles, vessels and nerves as well as muscle cells. Read all about the dermis!

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  • What is the dermis?

  • What is the function of the dermis?

  • What problems can the dermis cause?

What is the dermis?

The dermis (corium) is the middle of the three layers that builds our skin. It lies below the epidermis and over the subcutis. The dermis consists of connective tissue fibers and is divided into two layers, which are not sharply demarcated, but merge into each other:

  • Stratum papillare: the outer layer adjacent to the epidermis
  • Stratum reticulare: the inner layer

The name "dermis" derives from the fact that this skin layer provides the leather in animal hides after tanning.

What is the function of the dermis?

The dermal function consists in the anchoring of the epidermis. In addition, the dermis provides the epidermis with nutrients (the epidermis itself has no vessels).

Stratum papillare

The stratum papillare, which forms papillae (wart-like elevations), has no surface contact with the epidermis, but communicates with it by a zipper-like teeth with pins and papillae, which provide a strong mechanical fixation. This structure also improves the delivery of nutrients to the epidermis.

The stratum papillare consists of loose connective tissue and contains many capillaries (fine blood vessels). If there is a problem with the venous return of the blood, enlarged veins appear here as spider veins.

In the stratum papillare are also most of the sensory cells of the skin for tactile and vibration perception. Defense cells can move freely in this layer.

Stratum reticulare (network layer)

The stratum reticulare consists of thicker elastic fibers that cross each other, and tight connective tissue. All together forms a tensile, coarse-meshed network. The amount of fluid bound in this layer determines how firm the skin looks.

The direction of the fiber bundles determines the so-called split lines of the skin: If the skin is injured along a split line, the wound does not open up. However, if the wound runs across a split line, it gapes apart. Surgeons use these split lines to achieve as inconspicuous as possible scarring.

The reticular retatum contains hair follicles, sweat and sebaceous glands as well as blood and lymph vessels, nerves and smooth muscle cells (such as in the nipple, areola and scrotum).

sebaceous glands

The sebaceous glands produce the sebum, which keeps the skin supple. Read more about it in the article Sebum glands.


The sweat glands are also located in the dermis. They are distributed unevenly throughout the body. Most sweat glands are located on the palms and in the armpits. Few sweat glands have neck, back and buttocks. The formed sweat consists mainly of water and contains 0.6 to 0.8 percent common salt as well as ammonia and urea. Via the pores it reaches the surface of the skin.

Sweat production contributes to heat regulation. In addition, a small amount of those substances can be released via the sweat that can otherwise only be eliminated via the kidneys (such as saline).

How is the skin changed in atopic dermatitis patients? Is the skin disease inherited? And does it have anything to do with the immune system?

What problems can the dermis cause?

If the venous return of the blood is disturbed, spider veins may develop in the dermis.

Infection of the duct of a sweat gland with bacteria causes the formation of an inflammatory purulent nodule. Then doctors speak of a sweat gland abscess. Such abscesses occur especially in the armpits and in the genital region.

A secretion backflow in the excretory ducts of the sebaceous glands produces so-called blackheads (comedones). In acne vulgaris, the sebaceous glands are inflamed.

The dermis may lose moisture as you age, making the epidermis less firm.

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