Difference Between Sebaceous Glands and Sweat Glands

Glands are a group or cluster of cells in an organism’s body that synthesizes hormones secreted from the endocrine gland into the bloodstream and the enzymes that are secreted from the exocrine glands into the outer cavity.


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There are various types of glands in an animals’ body, the sebaceous and sweat glands are a part of it.

Sebaceous Glands vs Sweat Glands

The difference between the sebaceous gland and the sweat gland is that the product secreted by the sebaceous gland is Sebum into the hair follicles, whereas the product secreted sweat gland is sweat. Sebum is an oily substance, whereas sweat has a bad odour and has a tacky texture.

Sebaceous Glands vs Sweat Glands

The sebaceous gland is an exocrine gland that secretes oily matter or substances into the hair follicles of an animal. That oily secretion by the sebaceous gland is known as sebum.

Sebaceous glands are present in all parts of the body, especially on the scalp and face. Sebaceous glands are not found in the palm, foot, soles and hands due to the lack of hair follicles in those regions.

On the other hand, the sweat gland is also an exocrine gland that secretes are very odorous and tacky substances. That odorous substance is known as sweat.

The sudoriferous gland is a synonym of the term Sweat gland. The sweat gland is found in that region of the skin which is called the dermis.

Sweat glands are further classified into two types depending on various factors: The eccrine sweat gland and the Apocrine sweat gland.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonSebaceous GlandsSweat Glands
Presence Found in all parts of the body except soles & palms. Found in armpits, ears, eyelids, etc.
SecretionsSecretes sebum. Secretes sweat.
FunctionIts main function is lubrication. Its main function is controlling thermal, emotional and gustatory mechanism.
CompositionIt is composed of triglycerides. It is composed of water, amino acids, lactic acid and sodium chloride.
ClassificationIt has no further classification. It is further classified into two types i.e., Eccrine and Apocrine glands.

What is Sebaceous Gland?

The sebaceous gland is an exocrine gland that is located in the scalp and skin mostly i.e., the regions having hair follicles.

It cannot be found in the hands, soles, foot and palm as there are no hair follicles present in those regions. Sebaceous glands secrete the product called Sebum.

Each hair follicle is surrounded by one or more hair follicles. On the 13th-16th week of fetal development, sebaceous glands are produced.

Sebaceous glands are also found in some parts of the body where there are no hair follicles i.e., nose, eyelids, nipples, cheek and the inner mucosal membrane.

Sebaceous glands on different regions have different names, the sebaceous glands present in the genitals, lips and mucosa of the cheek is known as “Fordyce spot”.

The sebaceous glands present in the eyelid is known as the “meibomian gland”. The sebaceous gland present in the breast tissue is known as the “Montgomery’s gland”.

The sebum secreted by the sebaceous gland is composed of triglycerides, squalene, wax esters and metabolites. Sex hormones also affect sebum secretion differently.

A rise in estrogen level inhibits sebum secretion, whereas the rise in androgens or testosterone stimulates the secretion of sebum.

There are a few skin problems that are caused by the sebaceous glands, such as, acne and keratosis pilaris.

Some other skin conditions such as psoriasis, dermatitis, cyst, carcinoma, hyperplasia, adenoma are all caused by sebaceous gland secretion.

What is Sweat Gland?

Sweat glands are also exocrine glands that secrete an odorous and tacky secretion known as sweat. The secretory units of sweat glands are known as the glomerulum.

The number of sweat glands differs from person to person. The breast, abdomen, forearm, palms, back and legs have the greatest number of sweat glands in the body.

There are two types of sweat glands. Those are the Eccrine and Apocrine glands. The Eccrine glands are not so deep-seated into the dermis of the skin and are not present in the glans, prepuce, ear canal.

The Eccrine gland secretes sweat directly into the skin. Sweat is generally composed of water and some amount of sodium chloride which gives sweat a salty taste.

Sweat is derived from Blood plasma. The apocrine gland is mainly found in the armpit, nipples, genitals, ears and eyelids.

The apocrine glands are deep-seated into the dermis of the skin. The apocrine gland secretes sweat in the hair follicle through the pilary canal.

The apocrine glands are inactive before puberty. Due to the hormonal changes during puberty the size and functioning of the apocrine glands increase.

The apocrine glands get excited during stress and sexual activity. Sweat glands control the thermal, gustatory and emotional mechanisms of the body.

The pH of sweat is 6 to 7 in number. When the myoepithelial cells surrounding the secretory body contract, sweating occurs.

Certain diseases are caused by sweat glands i.e., heatstroke, fox-Fordyce disease, miliaria rubra, Frey’s syndrome, etc.

Main Differences Between Sebaceous Glands and Sweat Glands

  1. Sebaceous glands are present in all parts of the body except the soles and palms, whereas sweat glands are present in the armpits, nipples, lower abdomen, ears, eyelids, etc.
  2. Sebaceous glands are not classified into any types, whereas the sweat glands are classified into two types i.e., the Eccrine gland and Apocrine glands.
  3. Sebum is secreted by the sebaceous gland, whereas sweat is secreted by sweat glands.
  4. The main function of sebaceous gland secretion is lubrication, whereas the main function of sweat gland secretion is the control of thermal, emotional and gustatory mechanisms.
  5. Sebum secreted by the sebaceous gland is mainly composed of fatty acids and hydrocarbons, whereas sweat secreted by sweat glands is composed of amino acids, lactic acid, water and sodium chloride.


  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01049065
  2. https://joe.bioscientifica.com/view/journals/joe/133/3/joe_133_3_019.xml
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