The second layer of the skin, the dermis, consists of various connective tissues. As connective tissue, it contains fibroblasts and macrophages within a gelatinous matrix containing collagen, elastic, and reticular fibers. The structure provides strength, extensibility (the ability to be stretched), and elasticity (the ability to return to its original form). It is in the dermis where we find capillaries and many nerve endings. Major blood vessels are found in the hypodermis.
The dermis consists of two layers:
- The papillary layer is a thin outer layer of areolar connective tissue with fingerlike projections called dermal papillae that protrude into the epidermis. In the hands and feet, the dermal papillae generate epidermal ridges (sweat from the epidermal ridges leaves fingerprints).
- The reticular layer is a thick layer of dense irregular connective tissue. It lies deep to the papillary layer and makes up most of the dermis.