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Sweat Glands

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What is Sweat Gland?

Sweat glands, also known as sudoriparous or sudoriferous glands, are tiny tube-shaped formations of the skin that create sweat. The sudoriferous glands are a type of exocrine glands meant to produce and secrete substances onto an epithelial surface through a duct.

There are two types of sweat glands, apocrine sweat glands, and eccrine sweat glands. They differ in all aspects, including structure, mechanism of excretion, distribution across species, secretory product, and anatomic distribution. 

  • Eccrine sweat glands are scattered nearly all over the human anatomy, in alternating quantities, with the highest frequency in palms and feet, followed by the head, but extremely limited on the torso and the extremities. Its water-based absorption serves as a primary form of cooling in personages.

  • Apocrine sweat glands are principally restricted to the armpits and perineal areas in individuals. They are not vital for reducing the heat in humans but are the only active sweat glands in hoofed creatures, such as donkeys, cattle, horses, and camels.

Some modified apocrine glands examples are mammary glands, ciliary glands in the eyelids, and ceruminous glands. 

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Ordinarily, sweat glands are a secretory unit. These units consist of a home-rolled into a glomerulum, and a tube that transports the sweat off. The base is rooted deep into the lower dermis and hypodermis, while the entire sudoriferous glands are enclosed by adipose tissue. Both the types of glands, the secretory coils, are enclosed by contractile myoepithelial cells that operate to expedite the excretion of secretory output. The autonomic nervous system and the circulating hormones control the secretory activities and the contractions of myoepithelial cells. The apical part of the tube that opens right onto the skin's cover is known as the acrosyringium.

Each sweat gland holds numerous nerve fibres that branch into groups of one or more axons, surrounding the secretory coil's single tubules. 

Types of Sweat Glands


Eccrine sweat glands can be classified as the basic glands in the human body. These types of glands are present everywhere except, ear canal, labia minora, prepuce, lips, glans penis, and clitoris. They are way smaller in size than apocrine sweat glands, do not stretch deep in the dermis, and discharge directly onto the skin's surface. Also, the dimension tends to decline with age. 

The pure secretion composed by eccrine sweat glands is known as sensible perspiration, commonly termed as sweat. What is sweat? Well, sweat is mostly water-containing electrolytes since it's procured from blood plasma. The bearing of sodium chloride is what makes sweat salty. 

The Three Primary Functions of Eccrine Glands Are:

  • Thermoregulation: The primary reason why do we sweat is for thermoregulation. Sweat leads to cooling of the exterior of the skin, subsequently lowering body heat. 

  • Excretion: Eccrine sweat gland discharge can also present a notable excretory path for water and electrolytes.

  • Protection: Eccrine sweat gland discharge aids in conserving the skin's acid covering, which assists guard the skin against the settlement from bacteria and different pathogenic bodies.


These types of glands are observed in the armpit, perineum, in the ear, around the nipples, and the eyelids. These types of sweat glands are comparatively larger than eccrine glands, and they tend to secrete sweat into the pilary canal of the hair follicle rather than opening onto the skin's surface. 

Apocrine sweat glands are primarily inactive before puberty. Over time when the hormonal changes are witnessed during puberty, the glands tend to increase in size and begin functioning. The secreted substance of the apocrine is way thicker than eccrine and replenishes nutrients for bacteria on the skin. These types of glands are most active in times of stress and sexual foreplay. 

Apocrine sweat contains pheromone-like composites in mammals (including humans), which helps them attract other organisms within their species. Further, studies on human sweat have revealed a difference in apocrine secretions and bacteria in men and women. 

Some modified apocrine glands examples are mammary glands, ciliary glands in the eyelids, and ceruminous glands. 


Some glands in the human body cannot be classified as apocrine or eccrine because they possess characteristics of both types of sweat glands. These types of glands are termed apoeccrine and are smaller than apocrine glands but larger than eccrine glands. 

Apoeccrine glands discharge more sweat compared to the other two types of glands, thus executing a large function in axillary sweating. These types of sudoriferous glands are sensitive to cholinergic activity, though adrenergic stimulation can stimulate them.  

The Function of Sweat Glands

The Primary Function of Sweat Glands Are:

  • Thermoregulation, i.e., lowering the body temperature, is the main reason why do we sweat. 

  • Conserving the skin's acidic covering, guarding the skin against the settlement from bacteria and different pathogenic bodies.

  • Excretion of water and electrolytes. 

Did You Know?

  • The hypothalamus, pituitary, and thyroid are the three major glands in the human body.

  • Pure sweat is odourless, it is the bacteria on our skin that creates a foul odour on sweating. 

  • The primary reason why do we sweat is to maintain our body temperature to match up with the environmental changes, so we don't fall ill. 

  • Spicy food can stimulate the sweat glands of our bodies. 

  • Ciliary glands present on the eyelids are apocrine glands examples.

  • Sweat glands are mostly found in foreheads, armpits, palms, and soles. 

  • Excess alcohol consumption can increase sweating. 

  • Guarding the skin against settlement bacteria and different pathogenic bodies is a function of sweat glands.

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FAQs on Sweat Glands

1. What is sweat? State the composition of sweat.

Sweat is mostly water-containing electrolytes as a result of being procured from blood plasma. The bearing of sodium chloride is what makes sweat salty. 

Sweat comprises 99% water and 1% salt and fat. 

2. What are sudoriferous glands? 

Sudoriferous glands, generally called sweat glands, are small coiled tubular glands that produce and secrete sweat. They are found all over the body, spread in the skin's dermis, and there is an unbelievable 2.5 million per person.

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