It takes a lot of coordination by many cell types to finally produce a healthy hair fiber. One particular participant is the sebaceous glands (also called the oil glands). The sebaceous glands secrete an oily substance to help lubricate the hair follicle. The substance also has anti-microbial and antibacterial properties to help prevent the hair follicle from becoming infected.
Without sebaceous glands, a hair follicle can't form properly. Mice engineered in the lab that have abnormal sebaceous glands develop a scarring alopecia (scarring hair loss condition) which teaches us just how important these structures really are.
The sebaceous glands get bigger in patients with genetic hair loss and this can often be seen in their biopsies. The sebaceous glands get smaller and then disappear altogether in patients with scarring hair loss (scarring alopecias) and this phenomenon can always be seen in their biopsies.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299