The skin has three layers, the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous layer (fat layer.) The epidermis is the relatively thin tough outer layer which is composed of keratinocytes which originate from the basal layer. New keratinocytes migrate towards the surface of the epidermis and are gradually shed and replaced by younger cells. The outermost part of the epidermis, known as the stratum corneum is relatively waterproof and when undamaged prevents bacteria and viruses entering the body. Throughout the basal layer of the epidemis are melanocyte cells which produce the pigment melanin, contributing to skin colour. The main function of meanin is to filter out UV radiation which can damage cellular DNA. The epidermis also contains Langerhans' cells which are part of the skin's immune system.

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