Epidermal thermal conductivity (k) was calculated for the cat footpad by measuringtransepidermal heat flux and temperature gradient ( inverted question markT) while changes in stratum corneum water content were produced by "internal hydration" (IH; eccrine sweat gland activity by nerve stimulation) or by "external hydration" (HH; exposure to air saturated with water vapor). In some experiments, cutaneous vasoconstriction accompanying IH was prevented by an alpha-adrenergic receptor blocking agent, phenoxybenzamine (POB), 3.52 mg/kg iv. For dry skin k=0.167 plus or minus 0.023 (SE) W.m (-1) degree C (-1). With and without POB, IH produced 49.5% and 17.2% increases in k, respectively; HH after IH did not increase k more. With POB, IH increased k more than did HH alone (49.5% and 15.5%, respectively) and at a higher rate (4.22 times 10 minus 3 and 0.63 times 10 minus 3 W.m minus 1.degree C minus 1. min minus 1, respectively.) As k increased, usually deltaT decreased. Increasing k and decreasing deltaT with skin hydration explain the phenominon that air temperature is felt to be lower the more humid a cold exposure, since the temperature of thermoreceptors at the dermoepidermal junction is closer to that of the skin surface when the corneum is hydrated than when it has a low water content.
- Copyright © 1975 by American Physiological Society