Oily face

Why is skin oiliness restricted only to the face?


Namburu, Andhra Pradesh

The skin of the face is oily because of the presence of sebum, an oily secretion produced by the sebaceous gland. These glands are present throughout the body except the palms of hand and soles of feet.

Sebaceous glands are more commonly found in hair-covered areas, where they are connected to hair follicles. Hence the maximum concentration of this sebaceous gland is in the face and scalp.

The sebum reaches the skin surface through the hair follicles or the sweat pores. The sebum contains fat, triglyceride oils, wax, squalene, metabolites of fat-producing cells, etc. giving it an oily character. Typically, the surface feels greasy to touch while the appearance is shiny, often with visible pores.

The sebum synthesized by the gland is odorless and the bacterial action on then releases products of specific odor. The role of sebum is to provide anti- bacterial lipids, anti- oxidants, hydration of the superficial layers of skin, supply of vitamin E and also has temperature regulation properties.

The secretion of the gland is influenced by the sex hormones, temperature, stress and genetic factors. Increased production of sebum occurs during adolescence, pregnancy and menopause due to hormonal changes.

People have more oily skin in summer because hot and humid climate will stimulate the oil glands producing more sebum.

Rarely deficiency of vitamin B2 and B5 can also cause oily skin. Acne and black heads are conditions associated with these sebaceous glands and they are common in face. Seborrhea is the name for the condition of greasy skin caused by excess sebum.


Consultant Plastic Surgeon

SRM Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS)


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