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Regional thermal comfort zone in males and females

Ciuha, Ursa, Mekjavic, Igor B.
Physiology & behavior 2016 v.161 pp. 123-129
arms (limbs), females, legs, males, skin temperature, torso, water temperature
Skin regions differ in their sensitivity to temperature stimuli. The present study examined whether such regional differences were also evident in the perception of thermal comfort.Regional thermal comfort was assessed in males (N=8) and females (N=8), by having them regulate the temperature of the water delivered to a water-perfused suit (WPS), within a temperature range considered thermally comfortable. In separate trials, subjects regulated the temperature of the WPS, or specific regions of the suit covering different skin areas (arms, legs, front torso and back torso). In the absence of subjective temperature regulation (TR), the temperature changed in a sinusoidal manner from 10°C to 50°C; by depressing a switch and reversing the direction of the temperature at the limits of the thermal comfort zone (TCZ), each subject defined TCZ for each body region investigated.The range of regulated temperatures did not differ between genders and skin regions. Local Tsk at the lower and upper limits of the TCZ was similar for both genders. Higher (p<0.05) local Tsk was preferred for the arms (35.4±2.1°C), compared to other regions (legs: 34.4±5.4°C, front torso: 34.6±2.8°C, 34.3±6.6°C), irrespective of gender.In thermally comfortable conditions, the well-established regional differences in thermosensitivity are not reflected in the TCZ, with similar temperature preferences by both genders. Thermal comfort of different skin regions and overall body is not achieved at a single skin temperature, but at range of temperatures, defined as the TCZ.