Difference Between Merocrine Sweat Glands and Apocrine Sweat Glands

The human body consists of many natural factors which include the secretion of energy in the form of 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.

Merocrine Sweat Glands vs Apocrine Sweat Glands

The main difference between Merocrine Sweat Glands and Apocrine Sweat Glands is that Merocrine Sweat Glands are present all over the body and Apocrine Sweat Glands are present in specific regions of the body like eyelids, genital areas, armpits, etc. Also, the size of these sweat glands differs.

Merocrine Sweat Glands Vs Apocrine Sweat Glands

Merocrine Sweat glands are simple tubular exocrine glands located in the superficial hypodermis on the dermis’ periphery. They use coil secretion ducts to release their substances onto the surface of the skin. At a sweat pore, the duct opens onto epidermal surfaces. These sweat glands are smaller in size present all over the body.

Apocrine Sweat Glands are mainly found in the areas of 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 Between Merocrine Sweat Glands and Apocrine Sweat Glands

 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. They are present in the superficial epidermis. A specialty of this gland is that they excrete sweat by endocytosis. They excrete only water. It also included urea, potassium, salts, etc. Whenever we feel anxiety, fear, or anxiety these glands secrete more sweat.

In comparison to apocrine glands, these glands are smaller. The major function of merocrine glands is to help in the regulation of secretion of sweat, thermoregulation, and protection. These glands produce clear sweat. Examples of merocrine glands are salivary glands, pancreatic glands, 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 substance combines with the vesicle 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 areas of armpits, areola, and nipples of the breast, in the ear canal, etc. In comparison, merocrine glands secrete a large portion and are large. 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 on the skin. The secretion of these glands is thicker in comparison to the secretion of merocrine glands. The secretions are nutritive for the bacteria to grow. And this the birthing of bacteria gives rise to the characteristic smell of sweat. 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 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 is activated from birth itself. There are a few disorders of this gland, apocrine chromhidrosis~ a disorder in which one produces colored sweat and is a rare disorder.

The secretion from these glands contains salts, water, and organic compounds. Apocrine glands at specific locations have names like the one present in the eyelids is known as the Molls gland, while the one in-ear is said to be ceruminous glands. They secrete distinct 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 of the body 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 in size, 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 are sweat with other nutrients. 
  5. The secretory portion of Merocrine Sweat Glands is smaller, while that of Apocrine Sweat Glands is larger. 


Apocrine glands and Merocrine glands are types of sweat glands. The merocrine gland is present all over the body and secretes fluids in larger amounts whereas, the apocrine glands are small in size and secrete fluids in a small amount. Apocrine glands are found in eyelids, near genital areas, in armpits, etc.

While the merocrine glands are found all over the body. The Merocrine glands are located superficially in the skin, while the apocrine is located deep inside. Merocrine glands are significant in the body as it helps in thermal regulation and protects the body from any infection. The secretions from the other glands do not have any specific use. Thus, this summarizes the difference between the apocrine gland and the merocrine gland.


  1. https://www.histology.leeds.ac.uk/skin/glands.php
  2. https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Sweat-Gland.pdf
  3. https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-merocrine-and-apocrine-sweat-glands/
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