Sebaceous glands are small microscopic glands present in the skin of all mammals. The glands secrete a wax-like substance known as sebum that lubricates and moistens the skin and hair. Sebum is a blend of fats, such as triglycerides, wax esters, squalene, and cholesterol along with the debris of dead cells. Sebaceous glands are predominantly present on the scalp and face of the human beings. However, these glands are absent on the palms of the hand and the soles of the feet.
The glands are present in the hairy parts of the body and are linked to the hair follicles. Sebaceous glands transmit sebum to the skin’s surface through the hair shaft. The entire structure known as pilosebaceous units comprise hair, follicles of the hair, the arrector pili muscle, and the sebaceous glands. The number of these units is higher in hairy regions, such as neck, face, and chest. The pilosebaceous units are also found in other parts, such as nipples, nose, penis, labia minora, and eyelids.
When a child is growing up and passing through adolescence, the sebaceous glands become more active and secrete more sebum. Higher production of androgens stimulates the glands and causes their enlargement. Androgen production is common between boys and girls who are between the ages of thirteen and twenty years. A common disorder associated with overactive sebaceous glands is acne, though there are several other related disorders. These include comedones (commonly known as blackheads), milia (also known as whiteheads), statoma, rosacea, furuncle, and asteatosis. Acne, pimples, and comedones frequently appear on the face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders. These symptoms modify the appearance of the person and at the same time may be extremely uncomfortable. However, overactive sebaceous glands are not limited to adolescents. Grown-up men and women can also face such a situation.
Overactive sebaceous glands produce oils, dirt, and grime, which cause the skin pores to become clogged that can cause several other disorders. A mild occurrence of acne can be treated with a gel that contains 2.5% Benzoyl peroxide gel. The gel reduces the infection causing bacteria and the fatty acids present on the skin’s surface. In addition, medicines, such as tretinoin and retin A are beneficial to treat acne. Other forms of treatment include dietary control, topical anti-acne ointments, creams, lotions, and injections.
However, because every individual’s skin is unique, it is recommended to consult a dermatologist for treating disorders associated with overactive sebaceous glands.