Keeping Your Skin Healthy with Sebum
Under the right circumstances, a human being will feel and look like a moderately oiled machine. We have sebum to thank for that. Contrary to what some may think, there is nothing bad about moderately oily skin at all.
The Sebaceous Glands
The oil on the surface of our skins is a result of the work of sebaceous glands. These glands are located in the skin and are connected to hair follicles or ducts. They are found in nearly every part of the body except the palms and soles. When these glands are working properly, they produce sebum which they release through the pores. The substance is primarily composed of fats. Once on the skin or follicle shaft however, they may mix with dirt and bacteria.
Benefits of the Substance
A lot of people may complain about having oily skin. The sebum however that is the cause of it is really beneficial to the body. It is this substance that moisturizes the skin by itself and by preventing the loss of too much water. At the same time, it provides some waterproofing protection to the skin. The substance is also believed to play a role in the immune system by preventing infection. In the eyes, sebum plays another important role. It mixes with tears to ensure sufficient moisture to the eyes.
In infants, the important role of sebum is made even more apparent. This substance coats the fetus inside the mother’s womb so that its skin doesn’t get too wrinkled due to the fluids in the womb.
Too Much Production
In some cases, there can be too much sebum produced in the sebaceous glands. One of the major reasons for over production is an increase in hormonal activity. Since this usually happens during adolescence, teens are usually the ones who have to deal with too much sebum. Usually, over production simply leads to the appearance of acne. The acne condition may disappear on its own during early adulthood. Severe cases of acne may have to be treated with topical products.
Aside from acne, another possible consequence of too much sebum is bad odor. The substance itself has no natural odor of its own. When it mixes with bacteria in the skin however, it may produce an odor that has varying degrees of smell among various individuals.
Sometimes, too much sebum can lead to other conditions that may or may not be serious. Over production of the substance has been linked to such conditions as rosacea, seborrhea, sebaceous cyst, sebaceous hyperplasia, keratosis pilaris and sebaceous prominence.
Treating the Skin
Many conditions involving the sebaceous glands and sebum are nothing to worry about. Sometimes there is nothing better than simply maintaining basic skin hygiene, eating healthy food and staying away from harsh treatments. Do remember though that there are also some conditions that could potentially be dangerous such as sebaceous gland carcinoma and nevus sebaceous. If suspicious growths appear on your skin and you do not know what they are, you had better see a skin specialist.