Types Of Epidermal Cells

What are different types of cells in epidermis? The skin is considered as the longest as well as largest body organ. It has many functions which are all protective in nature. Skin is provided by many layers of cells and its main function lies in these different layers i.e. protection of underlying tissues and muscles.

When you see microscopically, skin has following layers in it:

• Epidermis

• Dermis

• Hypodermis

Epidermis stands for “Outer skin layer”.

Looking into epidermis, which is, the outermost layer of the skin we can see its varying thickness over different parts of the body. It is as much as 0.5 mm on eyelids while on palms and soles this is thickest reaching 1.5 mm in its thickness. The top layer of skin which is all the time exposed to environment and surrounding is made of dead and flat skin cells that keep on shedding every 14 days.

Epidermis has further differentiation as well and is equipped by nature with many specialized types of cells in it.

The types of epidermal cells are:

• The Keratinocytes (Keratin producing cells)

• The Melanocytes ( Melanin producing cells)

• The Langerhans’ cells ( immunity providing cells)

• The Merkel’s cells (sensory function)

Going into slight description gives us the interesting facts associated with these cell types.

The Keratinocytes:

They make up the 95% of epidermis. Their main function is to produce keratin which is a protective protein and fills in between different cells. These types of epidermal cells lie deeper in the epidermis and are column shaped there. But they keep on moving in the superficial layers day by day with changing themselves to more like flat cells. After they reach the outermost layer of epidermis, they eventually shed.

The fibrous protein i.e. keratin is meant to protect the skin and provides water-proof barrier to the skin.

The melanocytes:

These are one of the types of cells in epidermis which produce pigment and give color to the skin. The melanin is a brown-colored pigment in the skin and has the proper function of absorbing Vitamin D when provided from the sun light.

So, melanocytes become active when you get out for a sun bath and they produce more and more melanin which absorbs Vitamin D which is ultimately good for your bones.

The Langerhans’ cells:

Nature has provided every organ with a well-organized defense mechanism. So is the case with skin. The immune function (defense property) of the epidermis lies in the viability of Langerhans’ cells. These cells function by detecting the foreign antigen penetrating the epidermal layer of skin. The antigen which is any kind of outside particle is detected and presented to killer cells in the body which ultimately engulf these cells.

These types of epidermal cells are therefore called as, guardians of the skin.

The Merkel cells:

These make up to 6-7% of all the types of epidermal cell and are extremely important. They lie along with keratinocytes and are always present in the vicinity of the nerve endings. These have special mechanism which makes them sensitive to touch. They are therefore involved in sensory function which makes them to be called as mechanoreceptors.