We’ve all been there: suddenly cutting your fingertips with a piece of paper which ends up feeling as if you cut yourself with a chainsaw. But have you ever wondered why? Why do paper cuts hurt significantly worse that any other regular cuts?
Well, wonder no more, you knowledge-thirsty, Useless Info Junkie, because we have the answer for you.
Here’s how it goes. (the article continues after the ad)
The reason why you experience such a great pain with paper cuts has to do with several reasons. First of all, it has to do with the location of the cut. Usually, when we cut ourselves with paper, we do so on our fingertips. Fingertips, and hands in general, have a large number of nerve fibers (nociceptors), more than any other part of your body if we compare it on a “per square millimetres” basis. When you cut yourself, you basically cut through these nociceptors and that’s why paper cuts hurt much more than cuts on other parts of your body – because of the pain receptor’s high density). But what about other types of cut on the hand? Why they are still less painful?
That is due to the characteristics of the paper cut. Because the edges of the paper are flexible and dull compared to any other sharp object, such as a knife, they tend to do a lot more microscopic damage as they rip through the skin. To better understand this, imagine having to cut through a piece of meat with a sharp and a dull knife. The sharp knife will cut through more easily, while the dull knife will require more sway and therefore, it will end up causing a much more mutilated cut. Of course, you can’t see this with the naked eye, but that’s exactly what’s happening with paper cuts.
One more reason that has to do with the characteristics of the cut, is the fact that paper cuts are shallow. Because of that, they usually don’t bleed as much (if they bleed at all) which leaves the wound and the nerves open to the air and other irritants for a long period of time, which causes a continues pain.
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Sources: The Wise Book of Whys | Here’s the science behind why paper cuts hurt so much