Scientists at Germany’s Hohenstein Institute, an industrial research and marketing firm, report having developed a textile finish that provides a “sensory cooling effect.”
The organization says the term is used to describe a chemically induced sensation of coolness on the skin, which results from the triggering of cold receptors in the nerve ends close to the skin’s surface. It can be useful when treating sports injuries or insect bites, which are typically treated with ice, sprays and water-retention.
The scientists developed the cooling textile, made from high-tech fibers, as an alternative to traditional cooling systems that sometimes cool the skin too much, which can lead to symptoms of frostbite or even damage to the skin in the most extreme cases.
The institute reports substances that result in “sensory cooling” have a milder cooling effect, even when applied over a large area. The substances its team used have a lasting cooling effect when spread in very low concentrations on small area of the body.
The finish was tested on a variety of textile substrates from natural or synthetic fibers and blends. Tested on volunteers, researchers found that the sensory perception of cold depended not only on the area of skin being treated, but also on a range of other parameters such as the moisture level in the skin and the topography of the skin surface. This helped the researchers to make new findings about the substance sensitivity of specific areas of the skin (e.g. the cleavage, underarm, soles of the feet).
The project also found that sensory cooling textiles are effective when worn close to the skin, but are not suitable for loose clothing. Further, research proved that it would be feasible for small- and medium-size enterprises to apply a sensory cooling finish to their products.