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Difference Between Sweat and Sebum

Last Updated : 12 Apr, 2024
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The difference between sweat and sebum lies in their composition and functions. The human body consists of two types of glands – sweat glands and sebaceous glands and both are present on the skin surface. Sweat is released by sweat glands and sebum is released by sebaceous glands. This article will cover the comparison between sweat and sebum in detail.


What is Sweat?

Sweat is defined as a liquid-like substance excreted by sweat glands that are present in the body. Sweat is a composition of water, salt, a small amount of ammonia and some other chemical substances. The sweat function is to maintain the body temperature. Sweat is released by the body in excess amounts when the temperature of the body increases and when the person is under stressful situations. Sweat glands are mostly present in the armpit, palm, cheeks, forehead and other body parts.

What is Sebum?

Sebum is an oil-like liquid that is excreted by sebaceous glands present in the body. Sebum is a composition of fatty acids, sugar, cholesterol and other substances. The aim of sebum is to protect the skin, avoid it from drying and moisturize the skin. Sebum is released from the body through pores. Sebum also helps to protect the body from bacteria. Sebaceous glands are present on the dermis layer of skin and have a sac-like structure. Sebum is odourless in nature as compared to sweat.

Difference Between Sweat and Sebum

The comparison between sweat and sebum in table form is given below:




Secreted By

Sweat is a watery substance secreted by sweat glands.

Sebum is an oily substance secreted by sebaceous glands.


Sweat is composed of water, salt, a small amount of ammonia and some other chemical substances.

Sebum is composed of fatty acids, sugar, cholesterol and other substances.


Sweat is fluid and has a liquid-like structure.

Sebum is oily and has a wax-like structure.


The functions of sweat are:

  • To maintain the temperature of the body
  • Excretion of toxins from the body
  • To cool the body by the process of evaporation

The functions of sebum are:

  • Protect the body from bacteria and microorganisms
  • Prevent skin from drying
  • Moisture the skin


Sweat has odour. The odour of sweat is unpleasant.

Sebum is odourless.


Sweat glands are mostly present in the armpit, palm, cheeks, forehead and other body parts.

Sebum is mostly present on the face, scalp and present all over the body except on the soles and palms

Discharged from

Sweat is discharged from the surface of the skin.

Sebum is discharged from hair follicles.

Involved in

Sweat is involved in the process of thermoregulation.

Sebum is involved in the process of lubrication.


Secretion of sweat is stimulated by the rise in temperature in the body, by doing exercise and when the body is under stressful situations.

Secretion of sebum is a continuous process in the body and does not require any specific condition for initiation.

Conclusion – Difference Between Sweat and Sebum

In conclusion, the difference between sweat and sebum lies in their compositions and functions. Sweat is a watery substance secreted by sweat glands which helps regulate body temperature and excrete toxins, while sebum is an oily substance from sebaceous glands which protects the skin from bacteria and dehydration. Understanding these differences enhances our comprehension of the body’s physiological processes.

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FAQs on Difference Between Sweat and Sebum

What is the Difference Between Sebum and Oil?

Sebum is the natural oil produced by sebaceous glands in the skin, while “oil” may refer to any oily substance.

How do Sebaceous Glands Function?

Sebaceous glands function by producing sebum, which helps moisturize the skin, protect it from dehydration, and inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms.

How do Sweat and Sebum Differ in their Protective Functions of the Skin?

Sweat primarily regulates body temperature and excretes waste, while sebum lubricates and waterproofs the skin, providing a barrier against microbes and preventing dehydration.

What are the Causes of High Sebum Production?

High sebum is produced due to various reasons such as fluctuations in age-related hormones, lifestyle factors, diet and due to some medications.

What is the Role of Sebum?

Sebum helps moisturize and protect the skin. It prevents excessive drying, maintains skin flexibility, and forms a protective barrier against bacteria and other environmental factors.

Which Body Organ is Responsible for Controlling Sweat?

Sweat is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is a part of the nervous system and it is not under human control.

Name the Organs that do not Sweat.

Nails, lips and ears are the organs that do not sweat.

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