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Author Topic: How much heat can the body's cells, in particular skin cells, tolerate?  (Read 1892 times)

Offline _Stefan_

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When I'm in the shower, I like to have the water as hot as is comfortable. But I can feel that the water is hot, and I was wondering if there is a difference between how warm I prefer my showers to be, and how warm my skin cells can tolerate to be before being damaged and dying?

Also, is there a difference between extreme sensations, and pain? Pain is sensation that is unpleasant but which may also signal the damge of tissue, isn't it?

Thanks in advance. :)


 

another_someone

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The outer layer of your skin is already dead, it is only the lower layers that are alive, and regenerating the dead outer layer.

Pain actually uses different nerve pathways to the senses for heat and touch, although I am not sure exactly how they interrelate.  Some people are actually born that are incapable of sensing pain (but they do feel touch and heat), but they are a threat to themselves because they do not have an instinct to avoid dangerous situations, so they have to be very carefully taught to avoid situations that most of us would avoid instinctively.

Heat matters not just with regard to the temperature, but also the duration over which you are exposed, and how much of your body is exposed.  A small area of heat on your skin for a very brief period will only cause minimal damage (a very very brief contact may not even cause any damage at all); but the longer you are in contact with the heat, the deeper its effect, and the more damage; and the wider the area, the greater problems the body will have in carrying away the excess heat, or in healing the damaged area.

A temperature that might well be tollarable if you briefly dipped your finger in, might kill you if your total body was at that temperature - even if your skin was not at all damaged by the temperature, your body might overheat, and internal organs (particularly the brain) might be damaged by the excess heat.
 

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