Non-invasive measurement of effective thermal conductivity of human skin with a guard-heated thermistor probe

Takahiro Okabe, Taku Fujimura, Junnosuke Okajima, Setsuya Aiba, Shigenao Maruyama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper describes a non-invasive method for measurement of the effective thermal conductivity of human skin with a guard-heated thermistor probe. The guard-heated thermistor probe makes it possible to accurately measure the absolute surface temperature of a material at temperatures higher than the ambient temperature. In this study, the probe was used for a non-invasive measurement of the effective thermal conductivity of human skin by measuring skin surface temperature response for a short time. The effective thermal conductivity of human skin was measured at different body locations, such as cheeks, forearms, and heels, on five healthy volunteers. The measured values reflect the effects of multi-layered skin structure and biological processes, such as blood perfusion and metabolism beneath the skin. The results reveal a correlation between the effective thermal conductivity and the skin structure. A numerical simulation was performed to assess the effects of the epidermis thickness and the thermal conductivities of skin layers on the effective thermal conductivity of human skin. The results show that the thickness of the epidermis has a large impact on the effective thermal conductivity measured with a guard-heated thermistor probe. This is because the measured effective thermal conductivity is a function of the thermal conductivities of both the epidermis and dermis, depending on the thermal penetration depth during measurement. At locations on the body with a thicker epidermis, such as the heel, the epidermal thermal conductivity dominates over the effective thermal conductivity. At locations on the body with a thinner epidermis, such as the cheek and forearm, the dermal thermal conductivity dominates over the effective thermal conductivity. The influences of physiological conditions, such as blood perfusion beneath the skin and metabolism, on the effective thermal conductivity of human skin, were also analyzed numerically. Variations in the blood perfusion rate and metabolic heat generation rate of the dermis layer were found to have a slight impact on the effective thermal conductivity; however, only the blood perfusion rate and the arterial blood temperature were found to influence the skin surface temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-635
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
Volume126
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov

Keywords

  • Clinical experiment
  • Effective thermal conductivity
  • Guard-heated thermistor probe
  • Human skin
  • Numerical simulation
  • Thermistor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes

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