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Sebaceous gland facts for kids

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Sebaceous gland
Side view of hair follicle & sebaceous gland.
Cross-section of all skin layers. A hair follicle with connected structures. (Sebaceous glands noted at center left.)
Latin glandula sebacea
Gray's subject #234 1069
MeSH Sebaceous+glands

The sebaceous glands are microscopic (tiny) glands in the skin which produce an oily/waxy substance, called sebum, to lubricate (oil) the skin and hair. In people, these glands are found in greatest amounts on the face and scalp, joined near the top inside hair follicles or sweat pores. However, they are in all skin areas except the palms and soles of the feet. There are different kinds of these glands and sebum. In the eyelids, meibomian sebaceous glands emit a special kind of sebum into tears. There are several related medical conditions, including: acne and sebaceous cysts. Washing skin or hair with plain detergent can cut the amount of sebum in oily skin. Also, water temperature over 84 °F (29 °C) can keep sebum melted during a wash.


It is commonly believed that sebum acts to save skin from drying or to waterproof hair and skin. But some scientists have contended that "low levels of sebaceous gland activity are not correlated with dry skin", and it may serve little or no purpose in modern humans.

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