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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

The effect of aging on conductive heat exchange in the skin at two environmental temperatures

Jerrold S. Petrofsky, Everett Lohman III, Hye Jin Suh, Jason Garcia, Alexa Anders, Cassandra Sutterfield, Chetan Khandge

Med Sci Monit 2006; 12(10): CR400-408

ID: 459192

Available online:

Published: 2006-10-01

Background: Ageing diminishes the blood fl ow (BF) response of the skin to autonomic stressors. While the diminished response of skin BF to global heating has been well documented, the effect of this reduction
in skin BF on the ability of the skin to dissipate heat has not. When heat is added to the skin
by the application of hot packs, if heat is not adequately removed, the skin can become dangerously
hot and become damaged. The present investigation examined the heat dissipating properties
of the skin in older individuals. This study has importance for the therapeutic application of
hot packs which might cause burns easier in older people.
Material/Methods: In the present investigation, 10 younger and 10 older subjects were examined. The average age of the younger group was 25.9±3.4 years and the older group was 60±5.8 years. Heat was applied
through a 49 gram brass probe that was heated to 41ºC and by a Peltier junction in a cool and warm
Results: Skin required about 20 calories of heat to raise skin temperature 1°C the cool room and double
this Figure in the warm room. Ageing reduced the caloric requirement to increase skin temperature
under both conditions (p

Keywords: Aging - physiology, Adult, Body Temperature Regulation - physiology, Environment, Hot Temperature, Skin Temperature - physiology, Temperature