Why does the skin get gooseflesh?

Everyone experiences goosebumps from time to time. When it happens, the hairs on the arms, legs or torso stand up. Even these hairs also lift a small bulge of skin, the hair follicle, with them.

The medical terms for this phenomenon are piloerection, cutis anserina, and horripilation. The terms “goosebumps” or “crawling hairs” are the most used because they are easy to remember: the small bumps that form on the skin when this phenomenon occurs resemble the skin of a plucked bird.

It does not have an exact cause

Normally, goosebumps tend to form when we are cold. The hairs also stand on end when we experience a strong emotional feeling, such as extreme fear, sadness, joy, and sexual arousal.

It can also occur during times of physical exertion, even for small activities, such as when we are having a bowel movement. This is because physical exertion activates the sympathetic or instinctive nervous system. Sometimes spiky hairs can appear for no reason.

Many animals also experience what could be classified as goosebumps, including porcupines and dogs. In these cases, it is a bodily response to situations where it is advantageous to appear larger and stronger, such as during a confrontation or courtship.

In humans, experts believe that goosebumps are a product of evolution that works similarly to how it should in non-human animals.

persona con la piel de gallina

Help keep us warm

At the most basic level, this skin phenomenon can help keep us warm. When we are cold, the muscle movements that can trigger goosebumps will also warm the body.

In animals, this action also raises hairs in a way that traps air to create insulation . In people, this effect doesn’t do as much. Human beings have much less body hair than many other furry animals. As the body warms up, the goosebumps will begin to slowly disappear. The same goes for bodily exertions that can cause goosebumps, such as having a bowel movement. After passing stool, the goosebumps will disappear.

Also, when we experience extreme emotions , the human body responds in various ways. Two common responses include increased electrical activity in the muscles just under the skin and increased depth or heaviness of breathing. These two answers seem to give goosebumps.

With these responses, we may also notice sweating or an increase in your heart rate. Intense emotions and associated responses can be triggered by what we think, hear, see, smell, taste, or touch. Spiky hair is also associated with the state of feeling touched emotionally, whether in a happy or sad way. Sometimes they can be both at the same time.