How Your Skin Keeps You Cool

As we move ever deeper into proper British summertime, the weather is starting to get ridiculously hot! We’ve even had some warnings that the soaring temperatures might even pose some health risks to us – so make sure you protect yourself appropriately. Luckily, we’re all equipped with some great in-built defences against the hotter climate: our skin! You might know that you sweat to keep yourself cool, but that’s far from the only way your skin helps regulate your body temperature.

Why Does Our Skin Regulate Our Body Temperature?

 man at the gym

As you no doubt know if you’re a regular follower of our blog, your skin is an incredibly complex organ, which makes sense given that it’s the largest one in your body! In order to stay happy and healthy, humans have to maintain a certain level of internal body temperature; on average, that’s around 37°C. There’s some wiggle room in this – we’d all be incredibly delicate if there wasn’t – but when temperatures swing too far either way, that’s when our skin swings into action (metaphorically).

Your skin has three layers; your epidermis, your dermis, and your hypodermis. When it gets too hot, the first thing that happens is that your body widens the blood vessels in your dermis, allowing more blood to flow near the surface of the skin. This releases heat by a process technically known as radiation; more like the heater in your bedroom than a nuclear power plant, obviously. That’s part of the reason why our skin feels hot after we’ve been outside, even if we’ve not been in direct sunlight. (And if you are in direct sunlight, you definitely need to protect your skin!)

The Ways Your Skin Cools You Down

applying deoderant

Then there’s convection, which is the process that handheld fans rely on to keep you cool. If circulating air from a fan or water from a pool comes into contact with our skin, our skin will continuously lose heat to it for as long as we’re in contact with it. Jumping in a cool swimming pool in a swelteringly hot day is another good example. In its most basic terms, the heat transfers from our body to the air or water, cooling us down in the process. There are a couple of factors that can speed this process up, too – including exactly how much of our skin is exposed, and the higher the speed of the circulating air (which is why fans have more than one setting).

There’s also conduction. When you hear that word, you might immediately think of the way electricity moves, and to be honest it’s much the same principle. If our hot skin touches a colder object – like a disposable cup full of water – our skin will transfer its heat to that object.

So to sum up…

Your skin keeps you cool through:

  1. Sweating – your body produces liquid, which then evaporates off your skin, taking a bit heat with it.
  2. Radiation – this is when your body releases heat by allowing more blood to flow near the surface of the skin.
  3. Convection – the act of transferring your body heat to circulating air or water currents.
  4. Conduction – the act of transferring your body heat to a cold solid object.

Now, looking back at that list you might have spotted we’ve glossed over quite a big one; perspiration, or sweating. And you’d be right! But it’s such an interesting process that we’ve decided it deserves a blog all of its own, and that’s exactly what we’ll be bringing you at some point in the very near future. In the meantime, if you’re worried about dark patches on your underarms, we can help with anti-perspiration treatments.

Give us a call on 01254 297 000 to book an appointment, or just pop into our skincare clinic in Blackburn – we’re here to help!

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