Merocrine vs Apocrine Sweat Glands: Difference and Comparison

The human body consists of many natural factors, including the secretion of energy in sweat. When we perform a high-level activity, our body secretes sweat.

This sweat is secreted by sweat glands present in the body. Two types of sweat glands secrete sweat.

They are namely Merocrine Glands and Apocrine Glands.

Key Takeaways

  1. Merocrine sweat glands produce watery sweat and are found all over the body, while apocrine sweat glands produce thicker sweat and are located primarily in the armpits and groin area.
  2. Merocrine sweat glands regulate body temperature, whereas apocrine sweat glands are associated with stress, emotional responses, and odor production.
  3. Apocrine sweat glands become active during puberty, while merocrine sweat glands are functional from birth.

Merocrine Sweat Glands vs Apocrine Sweat Glands

Merocrine glands are sweat glands responsible for producing watery sweat that is mainly composed of water and salt. They help to regulate body temperature by producing work. Apocrine sweat glands produce a thicker, milky work that contains proteins and lipids.

Merocrine Sweat Glands vs Apocrine Sweat Glands

Merocrine Sweat glands are simple tubular exocrine glands in the superficial hypodermis on the periphery of the dermis. They use coil secretion ducts to release their substances onto the skin’s surface.

At a sweat pore, the duct opens onto epidermal surfaces. These sweat glands are more minor in size and present all over the body.

Apocrine Sweat Glands are mainly found in the armpits, areola, nipples of the breast, etc. These sweat glands are large, and they secrete sweat with other nutrients from the body.

These glands only get secreted after puberty. Moreover, they also smell, which leads to accumulating bacteria.

Comparison Table

 Parameters of Comparison Merocrine Sweat Glands Apocrine Sweat Glands
DefinitionThese are the glands that are present all over the bodyThese are the glands that are present at specific locations in the body
Number of glandsThese are present in large numbersThese are present in a few numbers
LocationPresent all over the bodyPresent in armpits, near genital areas, eyelids
Generating substancesSweat with only waterSweat with other nutrients
Secretory portionSmallerLarger

What are Merocrine Sweat Glands? 

Merocrine sweat glands are normal sweat glands found all over the body. These glands secrete sweat directly through the skin.

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They are present in the superficial epidermis. A speciality of this gland is that they excrete sweat by endocytosis.

They excrete only water. It also included urea, potassium, salts, etc. These glands secrete more sweat whenever we feel anxiety, fear, or anxiety,.

In comparison to apocrine glands, these glands are more minor. The primary function of the merocrine glands is to help regulate the secretion of sweat, thermoregulation, and protection.

These glands produce clear sweat. Examples of merocrine glands are salivary, pancreatic, and certain sweat glands.

The secretions from merocrine glands contain antibodies, Anti-microbial compounds, etc. Also, these glands are activated since birth.

These glands secrete substances by exocytosis. Exocytosis is when a sense combines with the cyst and then gets released.

In comparison, the apocrine glands, these glands are 1/10th in size of it. The secretion from these glands protects harmful things by diluting the secretion and avoiding the growth of microorganisms.

Excretion is also one of its functions. It also serves as an excellent excretory route for the removal of various antibiotics as well as prescriptive and non-prescriptive drugs from the body.

What are Apocrine Sweat Glands? 

These are the second type of sweat glands. These are mainly found in the armpits, areola, nipples of the breast, ear canal, etc.

In comparison, merocrine glands secrete a large portion and are significant. Inside the skin, they are present at the junction of the dermis and subcutaneous fat.

These glands secrete sweat on the pilary canal of the skin without directly releasing it on the skin. The secretion of these glands is thicker than the secretion of merocrine glands.

The secretions are nutritious for the bacteria to grow. And this, the birthing of bacteria, gives rise to the characteristic smell of sweat.

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Unlike merocrine glands, the function of this gland is still unknown and debated. These glands are activated during physical activities, sexual activity, etc.

They are widely characterized by a vastly spread lumen that stores the secretions and is lined by simple cuboidal epithelium. These glands are activated during puberty, unlike the merocrine gland, which started from birth.

There are a few disorders of this gland; apocrine chromhidrosis~ is a condition in which one produces coloured sweat and is a rare disorder.

The secretion from these glands contains salts, water, and organic compounds. Apocrine glands at specific locations have names. The one in the eyelids is known as the Molls gland, while the one in-ear is said to be a ceruminous gland.

They secrete different products at each location.

Main Difference Between Merocrine Sweat Glands and Apocrine Sweat Glands 

  1. Merocrine Sweat Glands are present all over the body, whereas Apocrine Sweat Glands are present in genital locations like eyelids, armpits, etc. 
  2. Merocrine Sweat Glands are found in large numbers, while Apocrine Sweat Glands are found in few numbers. 
  3. Merocrine Sweat Glands are smaller, and Apocrine Sweat Glands are larger. 
  4. The substance generated from Merocrine Sweat Glands sweats with only water, while the substances generated from Apocrine Sweat Glands sweat with other nutrients. 
  5. The secretory portion of Merocrine Sweat Glands is smaller, while that of Apocrine Sweat Glands is larger. 
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Last Updated : 07 July, 2023

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