MadSci Network: Anatomy

Re: How does the skin regenerate itself after a section is removed?

Date: Thu Sep 7 23:29:49 2000
Posted By: Leslie Gartner, Faculty Histology/Anatomy, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD
Area of science: Anatomy
ID: 968178927.An

Dear Lauren,

First of all I hope that your wound has completely healed and that you really did not hurt yourself - except for the gash in your hand.

Skin is composed of two layers, a surface epithelium, known as the epidermis, and a deeper connective tissue, known as the dermis. The epidermis is composed of five layers of cells, of which the two deepest layers (the stratum basale and stratum spinosum) have the capability of undergoing mitosis and forming more cells. If you cut a piece of skin out (both epidermis and dermis) the cells of the stratum basale around the cut edges undergo very rapid mitosis and form an epithelial layer on the surface of the wound, composed of a single layer of cells. Then this single layer of cells will, in time, reform the original thickness (all five layers of the epidermis), so that the wound is healed. If you burn the skin of the finger deeply enough, or if you remove both the dermis and epidermis from the finger tip then the fingerprints will not regenerate.

You can read more about skin in Gartner and Hiatt: A Color Textbook of Histology. Published by W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, 1997. Or any Human Anatomy and Physiology Textbook that you can find in your local Public Library.

I hope this helps.

Leslie P. Gartner, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anatomy
Baltimore College of Dental Surgery
Dental School
University of Maryland, Baltimore

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