What are sebaceous glands?

In our articles about skin and  importance of skincare we have mentioned the term sebaceous glands numerous times. Sebaceous glands are an important part of the skin, and we feel we should dedicate time and write an article about sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands are oil producing glands that are usually attached to hair follicles. They are found in the skin of mammals and release a fatty and oily substance which are referred to as sebum. This fatty substance being sebum is released into surface of the skin through the follicular ducts.

These oil producing glands are present in all of the body excepts the palm of the hand and sole of the feet. They are particularly abundant and plentiful on the face and scalp. The sebum that sebaceous glands discharge is a mixture of fats and cellular waste. This discharge takes place through the sebaceous ducts connecting the glands to hair follicles. The sebum is released into the surface of the skin is what gives the skin the slightly greasy texture which in turn helps to keep the skin moisturized.

The formation process of sebaceous glands

Now that we have tried to define what sebaceous glands are and what they do is good to also discuss how they are formed. Sebaceous glands are formed well before we are born as we are in our mother’s womb. To be more specific they are formed within the fourth month as we are in our mother’s womb and are well developed at birth. Although they shrink during childhood by the time, we reach puberty they are enlarged again. The level of male hormones specifically testosterones play a significant role in the maturation of the glands. This is turn can be why during puberty acne and breakouts due to excessive production of sebum which blocks our pores is so common!

Sebaceous glands and development of acne

So, as we mentioned sebaceous glands and the excessive sebum produced during puberty due to hormones are one of the main causes of acne in adolescents. Due to the excessive sebum produced our pores are plugged. As our pores get plugged sebum is accumulated in the hair follicle and sebaceous ducts. This in turn causes a chemical breakdown in sebum referred to as triglycerides possibly caused by a bacterial action. This bacterial action due to pores being clogged releases free fatty substances which then appears in forms of inflammation, pimples and acne. We have written a great article about hormonal vs bacterial acne which should be of interest also for you.

Different types of sebaceous glands

Although the vast majority of sebaceous glands are attached to our hair follicles there is another type also. These other types of sebaceous glands are not attached to hair follicles but rather are attached to our sweat glands. Unlike the sebaceous glands that open through the hair follicles the sebaceous glands attached to sweat glands open up through the surface of the skin. Although how the process which how they release sebum is different both types of sebaceous glands have the same function which is to release sebum

How to take care of your sebaceous glands

It is important to properly take care of your sebaceous glands and keep them healthy. A proper care of your sebaceous glands will prevent clogging of the hair follicles. You can take care of your sebaceous glands by:

  • Using a moisturizer daily
  • Using a gentle daily cleanser to clean your skin
  • Using skincare products that have salicylic acid
  • Using sunscreen/sun protection cream when outdoors
  • Keeping hydrated and drinking plenty of water throughout the day

For more details:

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