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Home: Diseases & Conditions: Acne: What Is Sebum?

Acne: What Is Sebum?

Acne Treatment- What Is Sebum?


Sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. The Latin meaning of sebum is fat. Sebum comes out of the glands in the skin and coats the hair follicles. You will notice that your hair becomes oily if you leave it unwashed for few days. That is sebum. Through the pore of the hair follicle sebum reaches the surface of the skin. There it mixes with other lipids and sweat and forms a coating on the skin. This coating is called acid mantle. Acid mantle protects the skin against bacteria and keeps the skin hydrated.

Sebaceous Glands-

Sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands. These glands are found on most parts of the body. Except for a few, most sebaceous glands open into a hair follicle. The density of sebaceous glands varies. Sebaceous glands are found most on the forehead, chin, cheeks and middle portion of the back. These are therefore common sites of acne.

What Does Sebum Do?

Sebum forms part of the oil that coats the skin. Sweat, lipids and environmental dirt are other ingredients of the oil on the skin. This oil protects skin from bacterial infection. It also reduces the natural water loss from the skin.

Sebum Quantity-

Sebum production increases suddenly at the time of puberty. Sebum production decreases with age in both men and women. In women, sebum reduces substantially after menopause. Adult females produce less sebum than men.

Sebum And Acne-

Sebum is one of the main causes of acne. That is why most of us have acne outbreaks during puberty. When sebum gets blocked in the hair follicle pores, it forms acne. By reducing sebum production, acne can be treated. Sebum production can be controlled by various medicines- mainly vitamin A derivatives and birth control pills.

Myths About Sebum And Skin Oil-

Some people believe that drying excess sebum with blotting oils will reduce sebum production. That is not true. Opposite to this, some believe that if you use products designed to control oil production that will increase sebum production. That is also not true. Drying excess oil will only remove surface oil. Using oil control products will not increase sebum production.

Sebum And Skin Odor-

Sebum itself is odorless but its bacterial disintegration produces odor. That is why if you keep your skin clean of bacteria with anti-bacterial soaps you can avoid body odor.

Article created on: June 14, 2006

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