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Apocrine Sweat Glands

Have a more limited distribution, but are found in the following areas;

  • Axilla (underarm),
  • Perianal (near the anal area)
  • Areole, (nipple)
  • Periumbilical (around the belly button),
  • Genital area,
  • External ear canal,
  • Eyelids
  • Also consists of ducts and secretory coils, but these glands are larger than eccrine glands and open onto hair follicles.


  • There are no known functions attributed to apocrine sweat glands in humans.
  • They are a genetic remnant of the mammalian sexual scent gland

Composition of apocrine sweat:

  • Thick, milky fluid
  • Excretions include protein, ammonia, lipids, chromogranins (family of proteins)
  • Bacterial decomposition leads to odor
  • Produce proteins equivalent to pheromones in non-human mammalian species

Nervous Control:

  • Activated by same sympathetic nerves as eccrine glands in the same region,
  • But different nerve fibers and different nerve transmitters control the glands
  • Respond to catecholamine, not acetylcholine (unlike ecrine glands)
  • Do not respond to Botox® treatment