NOV 11, 2016 5:46 AM PST

Why Paper Cuts Inflict More Pain than Bigger Cuts

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Paper cuts, we've all had it before and we all can attest to how annoyingly painful these wounds can be. But have you ever wondered why such a small cut can inflict so much pain? The answer behind this question may be a combination of physical and psychological factors.

First, the physical reasons why paper cuts feel more painful is because we have more pain receptors (nociceptors to be precise) on our hands than anywhere else on our body. In particular, these pain receptors tend to be the densest at the fingertips, which also happens to be where most cuts take place.

Furthermore, remember that our hands are perpetually being flexed, contorted, and strained. These actions delay the healing process and likely contributes to the pain receptors being activated and us registering more pain.

Second, the psychological component of painful paper cuts may stem from the fact that we are more aware of our hands than other parts of the body. Because we see the injury in front of our face, we're more likely to remember and feel the pain from the cut.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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