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Title: Effects of clothing on skin physiology
Authors: Yao, Lei
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2009
Abstract: Skin is the largest organ of human body that acts as the interface between the internal tissues of the body and the external environment to provide barrier function and protection. Clothing, called 'the second skin', covers most parts of the body, most of time, in majority of the places not only providing additional shield for the body but also creating a portable living microclimate for its survival. Chinese ancient wisdoms identified clothing as the first most essential item for human living and health. However, how the skin and 'the second skin' interact with each other to serve the protective and biological functions is indeed a mystery and a scientific understanding of the phenomenon is still in its infancy. The aim of this research is to fill the knowledge gaps and establish a theoretical framework for delineating the effects of clothing on skin physiology. This aim has been achieved through a systematic study to establish theoretical framework based on a thorough literature review and by undertaking a series of wear trials in mildly cold and hot environmental conditions, as well as under solar exposure. A theoretical framework of effects of clothing on skin physiology was developed by considering the potential mechanisms involved in physics, biochemistry, physiology, neuropsychology and immunology. A set of hypotheses were then proposed to explain the possible physiological interactions between clothing and skin. This theoretical framework and hypotheses were further tested by a series of wear trials conducted in mildly cold and hot environmental conditions as well as under solar exposure. A parallel cross-over blinded wear trial was designed and conducted in mildly cold condition to study the influence of clothing material on skin physiology. It is found that stratum corneum water content (SCWC) level is significantly higher when one wears cotton garment rather than polyester garments. Clothing material seems to significantly influence subjective sensation of coldness and stress level. Cotton fabric, with higher moisture sorption capacity and lower thermal diffusivity, has a positive effect on SCWC. Perception of coldness has a negative effect on SCWC. To identify the effects of fabric moisture and liquid water transport properties on the skin physiology in the context of daily wear, a parallel blinded wear trial was carried out in a mildly cold environment. The results suggested that hygroscopicity of fabric significantly influences SCWC and transepidermal water loss (TEWL) in mildly cold condition. Additionally, hygroscopicity of fabric tended to influence sebum, although no significant effect on skin surface acidity has been noted. Generally speaking hydrophilicity of fabric did not significantly affect skin physiology in mildly cold environment. To explore the mechanisms of the effects of fabric properties on skin physiological status in daily wear in mildly cold condition, statistical methods such as factor analysis and Hierarchical Linear Regression (HLR) were applied to obtain the relationships between fabric properties and skin physiological parameters such as SCWC, TEWL, sebum and skin surface acidity. A framework was developed to describe the clothing-body interactions among fabric physical properties, sensory responses, skin physiological and neuropsychological responses in mild cold environment. It was found that hygroscopic fabric significantly increases SCWC and TEWL and decreases sebum in mildly cold condition. Fabric transport capability significantly reduces skin surface acidity by promoting heat release and reducing heat accumulation. Fabric transport capability seems to increase the overall comfort sensation and reduces stress. Meanwhile, fabric shearing resistance reduces overall comfort sensation and increases stress level. Fabric compressibility and overall moisture management capacity (OMMC) appear to enhance overall comfort sensation. Overall comfort sensation is positively related to SCWC and TEWL, while stress level is positively related to sebum. To study effects of clothing on skin physiological response in hot environment, a cross-over blinded wear trial was also conducted, the results were analyzed statistically by using Repeated Measure-ANOVA, and its mechanisms were explored by using HLR. It was found that fabric transport capability, shearing resistance and compressibility influence human thermoregulation by affecting heat release, and microclimate humidity. Fabrics with higher transport capability significantly reduce core and skin temperature by promoting heat release from the human body to the external environment. Fabric with higher shearing resistance increases skin temperature. A framework was thus developed to describe the clothing-body interactions in terms of fabric physical properties, skin physiological, neuropsychological and thermophysiological responses in a typical hot environment. To investigate the effects of UV blocking fabric on skin physiology, another parallel wear trial was carried out under solar exposure. It was found that that fabric with UV blocking capability reduces the acute effects of solar exposure, inhibits melanin content and erythem level as well as protects circadian rhythmicity, and increases stratum corneum hydration under UV radiation. To reiterate, in this study, the clothing-body interactions in mild cold and hot environments as well as under solar exposure have been investigated. Two comprehensive frameworks have been developed to describe the mechanisms of the ways in which physical properties of fabric influence skin physiology, thermophysiology and neuropsychology. The outcomes of this research should contribute towards developing a scientific understanding on how clothing affects skin physiological health, comfort and protection of the body under different environmental conditions.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations.
Clothing and dress.
Skin -- Physiological aspects.
Pages: xviii, 210 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm.
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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