Papillary region is composed of areolar tissue, the most common type of 'loose connective tissue'. This layer is approximately 300-400 µm deep. It is much thinner when compared to reticular region. Though it is strong enough to bind the skin, it is soft enough to give cushioning and flexibility. It exhibits significant empty space with loosely organised fibers which are interlacing.
The friction ridges (fingerprints) in the palms and fingers and also in the soles and toes are due to the papillary ridges. Apart from giving us grasp, these ridges, with their pattern being controlled genetically, are unique to individuals and provide fingerprints for identity.
Meissner's corpuscles (touch receptors) present in this region in sensitive areas make skin sensitive to touch. One of the important role of papillary layer of dermis is in formation hair, its growth and cycling.
Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Normal_Epidermis_and_Dermis_with_Intradermal_Nevus_10x.JPG
License: public domain
Current topic in dynamic skin care: Papillary dermis layer.