Don’t sweat it: the answer is at your fingertips!
GlobalLab participants live in many different climates. Some see palm trees and sandy beaches in their backyard, while others wake to see snowdrifts and pine trees. Could there be anatomical differences between people living in different climates? Let’s find out whether climate affects the number of a person’s sweat glands.
Why the need for sweat? In part, sweating helps us to regulate our body’s temperature. When environmental conditions change, our body responds immediately. The temperature and humidity around us determines the amount of sweat the body must produce to remain in its “comfort zone”. The higher the temperatures the more sweat is produced in an effort to keep cool.
In some regions it is rarely warm, while in others it is hot most of the year. It stands to reason, then, that the inhabitants of different climate zones might need to produce varying amounts of sweat and perhaps they have different numbers of sweat producing glands, namely, the sweat glands. (Read More on sweat glands below).
In our journey to discover if this is true we will count the number of sweat gland ducts on fingertips of GlobalLab participants from many different geographical locations. (Why fingertips? See Read More section below)
What is a sweat gland?
A sweat gland consists of secretory and excretory ducts of the glomerulus. The secretory glomerulus is in the lower layer of the dermis and the excretory duct opens onto the surface of the epidermis.
Sweat glands are located in the skin throughout the body. They are, however, unevenly distributed with the largest number of them found on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, the forehead, the armpits, and the groin. In a surface area of about one square inch on the palm of the hand there are approximately 300 sweat glands; in this same space on the back of the hand there are only about 50.
The fingertip is an ideal body part for use in this study of sweat glands due to the fact that the skin of the palms do not have sebaceous glands (oil producing gland) or hair follicles. This means that the only openings onto the surface in this area are sweat gland ducts.
- Project Author