why do small cuts hurt so much

You wouldn't think that a flimsy piece of paper could inflict such sharp pain on the human body, but of all life's little annoyances, paper cuts are one of the worst. While not overly serious in the grand scheme of things, they sure provide a lot of pain for such a minor injury. So why do paper cuts hurt so much, even if they don't pierce the skin? Turns out, it's your nerve endings that are mainly to blame: we've got more pain receptors in the tips of our fingers than almost anywhere else in the body, which you might have already realised if you've ever tried to pick up something very hot. "Fingertips are how we explore the world, how we do small delicate tasks," dermatologist Hayley Goldbach from the University of California, Los Angeles,. "So it makes sense that we have a lot of nerve endings there.

Itвs kind of a safety mechanism. "
These nerve endings are called, and they warn the brain в through the sensation of pain в about high temperatures, dangerous chemicals, and pressure that could break the skin. Some blame also lies with the paper, though в paper edges are not as smooth as they might appear from a distance, and can leave a rough trail of destruction on the skin, rather than a good, clean nick. Finally, paper cuts are usually not deep enough to activate the body's natural defence mechanisms в such as blood clotting and scabbing в so the damaged nerve endings in our fingers are left exposed.

Not only that, but the open wound is flexed and strained every time we use our hands until the skin is repaired. All of which means that paper cuts are disproportionately painful в or at least, that's what. In the absence of a queue of volunteers lining up to slice open their fingers with paper, scientists have to use what they already know about the body to take an educated guess. "We can use our knowledge of human anatomy to help us out here,". "It's all a question of anatomy. " But you can do a little scientific experimentation on yourself to personally examine the hypothesis. Get hold of a paperclip, then bend it so the two ends are close together and pointing in the same direction. Try poking your back or legs and see if you can distinguish between the two sharp points, then try again on your hands or your face.

It's much easier to feel both points the second time around because of the extra nerve endings. Congratulations в you just discovered, which is the ability to recognise two distinct impressions on the skin, and not confuse them as one. In Scientific American's researchers suggest that there could be a psychological element to paper cuts as well: in our minds, the pain is made all the more acute because it was caused by something so small and apparently harmless. So now you know the science behind paper cuts. But the most important tip? Exercise extreme caution around stationery. Even the smallest of paper cuts can leave you with a lingering, uncomfortable pain that feels like something much worse.

Hereвs why paper cuts are more irritating than most other cuts and scrapes. Jason G. Goldman at spoke with, a resident physician at UCLA, to find out why paper cuts hurt more than most other cuts. Goldbach said it came down to these three key reasons: Most paper cuts happen on your fingers, where there are more pain receptors embedded in your skin than almost anywhere else in your body. But this is a good thing overall. Goldbach explains that fingertips are how we explore the world and perform delicate tasks, so they need a built-in safety mechanism. Paper edges look straight and smooth like a razor, but theyвre actually more like a serrated saw blade.

When you get cut, the paper is actually ripping, tearing, and shredding its way through your skin. Ouch. Paper cuts are deep enough to get past the top layers of the skin and reach the pain receptors, but shallow enough that they usually donвt result in much bleeding. That means blood doesnвt immediately rush in to clot, protect, and begin healing the wound. Your nerves remain exposed so they keep sending pain signals to the brain. Thatвs why itвs important to quickly bandage a paper cut and protect it from the elements. Otherwise youвll have a sore finger for much longer. If you seem to get paper cuts all the time, might help protect your poor fingers. Photo by.