Why Do We Get Goosebumps When Cold or Afraid?

It is an occurrence that is not hazardous to your health and nor is it contagious. The phenomenon is known as goose bumps and was named after the tiny bumps on a goose's flesh. It is a condition that most of us have experienced at some point in time.

It begins as an icy cold sensation that races down the spine and is then followed by a tingling sensation on the neck and arms. If you look down you will see tiny bumps erupting across the affected skin. Goosebumps are a natural defence of the body and occur when we experience a sense of fear or a chill in the air. These tiny bumps are a fight or flight response designed to make the body appear larger than it actually is.

If your doctor should mention that you have a bad case of Cutis Anserina do not panic. He is simply using the official medical term for those little bumps protruding from your skin. Goose bumps are harmless and you will be perfectly fine. If you have an outbreak while you are being diagnosed then it is most likely your doctors chilly office that is initiating your current outbreak. Goosebumps happen when you are either cold or afraid.

Goose bumps are the tiny little bumps that appear on your arms, legs, neck, back, or any other area of your body where you grow hair. You will notice that the hair will rise where ever one of the tiny bumps is located. Each small bump is formed to raise the hair it is connected to. This process occurs to make you appear larger than you actually are. First termed as goose flesh because the condition generally resembles the pimply skin of a plucked goose these protrusions have become familiarly known as goosebumps. 

Goosebumps are the body's fight or flight response to danger. The process of developing goosebumps begins when you experience a sensation of fear or cold. It is then that your body kicks into action to help you out of your current situation. The sympathetic nervous system sends a message down your spine and from there into your arms, legs, and other extremities as a call for your body to react. This message in essence tells the muscles within your hair follicles to contract. As these muscles contract the hair follicles rise above the skin forcing the hair to become erect. This action then displays itself as a case of goosebumps.

It is simply one of many defence mechanisms that the body is able to initiate. This rising of the fur is a system which attempts to make us appear larger in an effort to frighten off or at the very least intimidate an approaching predator. While you might just slightly be able to notice that your tiny forearm hairs are standing on end this effect is much more noticeable in a porcupine or your average house cat. Most animals who have feathers, hair, or fur are able to experience goose bumps. Animals will raise their fur when they are cold or afraid just as humans will.

In fur covered animals this system works very well and can also be very obvious when it occurs. A cat or porcupine displays a very dramatic case of the goosebumps when they are frightened. It can be a pretty scary site which is exactly what it is intended to be.

So how do goose bumps fit in with a chill in the air around us? Well there is a little bit of science involved in that answer. Although goosebumps won't help most of us humans out when we get cold this reflex action will help to warm those creatures with thicker hair, fur, or feathers. When the follicles rise to an erect position they lock warm air from the body between them and this increases the body's ability to maintain its warmth.

This is why many animals appear to puff or fluff themselves up in the cold. It is a natural defence mechanism to protect against the chillYou can see this effect in birds as they will often plump themselves up to feel warmer. Their body is enabling them to remain warmer for a longer period of time than they would otherwise have been able to.

There is a Definite Science to the System

Now that you know the basic causes and symptoms of goosebumps pop yourself up a nice big bowl of popcorn, turn on that super scary horror flick that you have been anxiously waiting to view, and enjoy a spine tingling movie.

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