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Discovery Magazine 1/1/1991


Why Do I Get Goose Bumps?

What happens when someone jumps out at you from behind a door and yells "Boo!"? Or, what happens when you hear fingernails scraping a~cross a chalkboard? Do you get "goose bumps"? Many people do. But, do goose bumps serve any purpose? Yes, they do.

Tiny muscles in the skin known as "arrector pili" (ar-RECKED-ore PIE-lie) contract, and force body hairs to stand on end. In animals, this is some~times used as a defense mechanism (that is, something done to defend oneself). The animal (like a dog or cat) can look bigger and meaner with its hair standing up. In humans, however, goose bumps accomplish two important functions. First, they can help prevent heat loss from the body. As the hair stands up straight, pores on the skin close. This traps the heat inside the body.

Second, as the hair stands up, the hair follicle (FALL-ick-ul) under the skin presses against a small sebaceous (suh-BAY-shus) gland. This gland causes an oily substance to rise to the top of the skin. This helps keep the skin cells from drying out. So, when you get goose bumps, you are getting a "lube job."

God designed our bodies so well that even the things we think are unimportant, are actually very important after all.



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