Our skin is a highly complex organ. It is similar to a large-scale factory with various structures, such as hair, nails and glands, interspersed throughout. These structures, known as “skin appendages,” can be divided into four categories: sweat glands (eccrine and apocrine), sebaceous glands, hair and nails.
Sweat glands – Eccrine and apocrine
Apocrine sweat glands are located primarily near hair follicles in the underarm, anal and genital regions. The perspiration they produce is thick with a distinct odour. It also contains pheromones, chemicals associated with sexual attraction released with the onset of puberty. (The body odour from the sweat produced by the apocrine glands is due to contact with bacteria found on the surface of the skin.)
Eccrine sweat glands are smaller, more abundant and found mainly under the arms, on the forehead, in the palms of the hands and on the soles of the feet. They release perspiration rich in water and salt through the pores, and in doing so, help to regulate body temperature.
Hyperhidrosis : Overactive eccrine glands
Hyperhidrosis involves the excessive production of perspiration, a problem that can affect a person’s social and professional life. Treatment options include the localized application of powerful antiperspirant products (containing aluminium salts), electrolysis – a technique using a small electrical charge to destroy and neutralize some eccrine glands – or the surgical removal of the glands.
Sebaceous glands can be found all over the body (except the palms of the hands and soles of the feet), but they are mostly concentrated in the face, back and scalp. As their name suggests, they release an oily substance, also known as “sebum.”
While sebum serves as a protective barrier, it can also leave skin and hair looking shiny or oily, especially with poor hygiene or in the presence of certain factors that lead to its overproduction (puberty, hormone changes associated with drug-based birth control, some neurological diseases, like Parkinson’s). A proper skin care routine and the use of mattifying dermo-cosmetic products can help improve the look of oily skin.
Ironically, the excessive, repeated daily cleansing of facial skin can also trigger an overproduction of sebum to compensate for its constant removal. That is why it is so important to use –but not overuse – skin care products suited to your skin type. It’s all a question of balance!
Hair and nails
Hair (including body hair, hair on the head, eyebrows and eyelashes) and nails grow non-stop and are very rich in proteins called “keratins.” Nails are harder than hair because they are made of a stronger form of keratin, which contains very little water.
For valuable advice on caring for your skin, hair and nails, or to learn more about the dermatological issues involved in good skin care, consult a Uniprix dermo-cosmetic consultant!