Why People Get Naked Before Freezing To Death

Studies show that many people dying of hypothermia undress right before they freeze to death. Why? What causes this paradoxical behavior?

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The word: Paradoxical undressing
“Between 20 and 50 per cent of deaths from hypothermia involve paradoxical undressing of some kind. Mountain rescuers are trained to expect it, and the spell of severe cold weather in North America earlier this year produced a handful of well-publicised cases. The cause is not known for sure; it is, after all, paradoxical.”

Forensic diagnosis of death from cold
“This color difference was useful for the diagnosis of fatal hypothermia. iii) Gastric or duodenal submucosal bleeding (Wishnewski’s spots) was noted in 10 (43.5%) of the 23 cases that underwent forensic autopsy. iv) Paradoxical undressing was observed in 35 (21.3%) of the 164 cases that underwent inquest.”

“Paradoxical undressing” in fatal hypothermia
“The phenomenon called paradoxical undressing has been described from 33 cases of hypothermia collected from Swedish police reports. The cases were almost evenly distributed with regard to sex, age, and geographical distribution. The cases occurred more frequently in open land although cases from town areas were also found.”

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Special Thanks to Sapna Parikh for writing and hosting this episode of DNews!
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