Why are sunburns hot?
Name: Rich K Magnuson
I've noticed that after I've received a sunburn somewhere on
my skin, that particular patch of burned skin feels warmer to the touch as
opposed to unexposed skin, even hours or days after the burn occurred.
Is it psychological on my part or is there an explanation for it? Burned
toast will seem to reach equilibrium with room temperature, so why would
burned skin be 'warmer' than normal skin?
The burned skin stays warm because of the way the body responds to
injury. The immune system senses damage and calls for help. Help is
delivered by increasing the blood flow to the region. The increased
blood flow makes the region warm and red (blushing). Similar inflammatory
responses will be seen after many types of injury, including insect bites
and scrapes, and some infections.
Steve J Trizeneberg
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Update: June 2012