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Apocrine sweat glands

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Apocrine sweat glands are a subgroup of sweat glands which are less utilised by Homo sapiens relative to lower mammals. They are coiled tubular glands arising deep in the dermis and emerging into hair follicles superficial to the duct of sebaceous glands. They originate from downgrowth of the epidermis.

Apocrine glands are found predominatly in hairy areas:

  • axillae
  • perineum
  • genitalia
  • nipples and areola
  • peri-umbilically

Under the action of the sympathetic nervous system and hormones, apocrine sweat glands produce regionally-specific organic secretions which are acted upon by skin bacteria. The result is distinctive body odour that may have a role in courtship and social behaviour.

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