Well Being

Why People Take Off Their Clothes When They’re Literally Freezing to Death

By  | 

Pop Tart

A funny thing happens to people when they get hypothermia. Many of them strip off their clothes as one of their last acts before they die. This is common phenomena among fatal hypothermia cases and is known as “paradoxical undressing.”  Why in the world would someone who is literally freezing to death take off their clothes?

Here's the answer from SurvivalTopics.com.

Now the key to what causes paradoxical undressing. Vasoconstriction occurs when the smooth muscles within the vasculature contract. This effort requires a steady input of energy in the form of glucose from the body's energy stores. However, due to a lack of blood now traveling to these muscles, they eventually tire. As the muscles of the constricted blood vessels run out of energy, they fatigue, relax, and open up. This is known as vasodilation.

With vasodilation of the blood vessels, an infusion of warm blood from the core of the body rushes into the peripheral extremities. This causes the hypothermia victim to feel overly warm and to start shedding layers of clothing, contrary to the reality that their body temperature is continuing to drop.

The victim's warm blood rushing from their core, coupled with the removal of warm clothing, causes their body temperature to fall even faster. This serves to hasten death from hypothermia and results in another case of paradoxical undressing.

Further Reading:
Extreme Cold Survival Tips