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April 1969

The Hunting Reaction

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (Graduate Hospital Division), Philadelphia.

Arch Dermatol. 1969;99(4):441-450. doi:10.1001/archderm.1969.01610220069012

The primary function of the cutaneous blood flow, temperature regulation, serves the organism as a whole and not the skin itself. However mechanisms do exist which afford a degree of local protection against skin damage. One such mechanism is the "hunting reaction" of Lewis. The experimental investigations and proposed physiologic mechanisms of this hunting phenomenon are discussed.

The authors describe a syndrome of erythematous, swollen, tender, painful toes occurring without prior blanching or subsequent cyanosis. The symptoms are triggered by cold exposure or, occasionally, by pressure. It is postulated that in some patients the normally protective hunting reaction becomes hypersensitive to the point where individuals may experience, in an exaggerated form, the sensations that normally accompany the hunting reaction, resulting in the clinical syndrome described.

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