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Difference Between Sweat and Sebum

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There are two types of glands on the human body; sweat glands and sebaceous glands. Sweat is produced by the sweat glands and sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands. Both of these are excretions of the body, but there are several points of difference between sweat and sebum. Both sweat and sebum are released by glands present on the skin surface. At Vedantu, we have summarised the characteristics of both to help you differentiate between sweat and sebum. 


Sweat is a fluid or liquid-like substance that is excreted by the sweat glands on the body. The human body is covered with approximately three to four million sweat glands. Most of these are found in the armpit, forehead, cheeks, palms, soles of the feet and other body parts. There are two types of sweat glands: eccrine sweat glands and apocrine sweat glands.  


Sebum is a solid or wax-like substance that is excreted by the sebaceous glands on the body. These glands are present in the dermis layer of the skin and are shaped like a sac. There are two types of sebaceous glands: ones that are connected to the hair follicle in the hairy area of the body and those that exist independently in hairless regions. 

Let’s look at the difference between sebum and sweat in detail.





Sweat is secreted by sweat glands on the surface of the skin

Sebum is secreted by the sebaceous or oil glands.


Sweat has an unpleasant odour

Sebum is odourless


Sweat is a liquid-like substance

Sebum is a wax-like substance


Sweat is fluid in appearance

Sebum is oily


Sweat is made up of salt and water. It also contains traces of lactic acid and a small number of amino acids and glucose

Sebum is made up of lipids having triglycerides, free fatty acids, oils, wax, and cholesterol, and its esters.


1. The main function is sweat is thermoregulation 

2. Excretes the toxins from our body. 

3. Sweat cools the body by evaporation

1. The function of sebum is to create lubrication for the hair and the skin

2. It acts as a pheromone

3. Protects the body against microorganisms


It is discharged from the surface of the skin

It is discharged from the hair follicles

Secretion stimulation

Secretion is stimulated by a rise in body temperature due to heat, exercise, etc. Sweat is also produced by the body when it is experiencing strong emotions like fear or stress.

Sebum secretion is a continuous process. 


Sweat glands are present in locations like armpits, palms, soles, forehead, etc

Sebaceous glands are present all over the body except the palms and the soles. The most number of sebaceous glands are found on the face and the scalp.

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FAQs on Difference Between Sweat and Sebum

Q1. What are the Problems Caused By Excess Sebum Secretion By the Body?

Ans. When the sebaceous glands secrete excess sebum, it leads to problems like acne, hyperplasia, and sebaceous adenoma.

Q2. What are the Problems Associated with Sweat Glands?

Ans. Some of the problems associated with sweat glands are:

  • Fox-Fordyce Disease- It is the blockage of the sweat gland ducts that leads to inflammation in the glands, causing an itchy rash, usually in the pubic and axillae areas.

  • Heatstroke- When the eccrine sweat glands stop secreting sweat due to exhaustion, it causes heatstroke that can lead to hyperpyrexia.

  • Hyperhidrosis- This is a medical condition characterized by excessive sweat brought on by emotional stress.  

  • Milaria Rubra- In this condition, the sweat glands get clogged and the sweat gets trapped under the skin, causing an itchy rash on the skin.