What is the apocrine gland?

Susan Evans
Our apocrine glands are usually found in our armpits, our genitals, ears, breasts, and anywhere we produce hair, and become very active at the onset of puberty. These glands secrete a thicker fatty substance that when exposed to bacteria naturally found on our skin, provides a rich environment for the bacteria. The bad odor comes from the multiplying bacteria breaking down the secretions from the apocrine glands. This is the source of our bad body odor.

The apocrine gland is a type of gland that is found in the skin, breast, eyelid, and ear. Apocrine glands in the breast secrete fat droplets into breast milk and those in the ear help form earwax. Apocrine glands in the skin and eyelid are sweat glands. Most apocrine glands in the skin are in the armpits, the groin, and the area around the nipples of the breast. Apocrine glands in the skin are scent glands, and their secretions usually have an odor. Another type of gland (eccrine gland or simple sweat gland) produces most sweat.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

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