Why Do Paper Cuts Hurt So Much?

Published on February 4, 2019
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Captions provided by CCTubes – Captioning the Internet! you know when you get a paper cut and you say, why does this hurt so much more than anything else.

You know the dreaded moment when you feel that familiar but nevertheless shocking surge of pain on your finger. You were just trying to mail a letter to your Great-Aunt Celia to thank her for the hand knitted mittens she sent you for Christmas, and then it happens. Your fingertip is searing in pain; it feels like a knife just sliced through your top few layers of skin. so why does it hurt so bad? Let’s delve into that on this episode of The Infographics Show, Why Do Paper Cuts Hurt So Bad?

The dreadful paper cut is just a fun little thing we humans unintentionally do to ourselves to keep us on our toes. You thought you had good hand-eye coordination? Well, think again. One reason why these annoying little cuts hurt so badly is because they usually happen on our most sensitive areas like the fingertip, lip, or tongue.

The fingertip consists of layers of skin that make paper cuts hurt more and bleed less. The outermost layer, which is known as the epidermis, is very thin like a sheet of paper. Under that layer is the dermis. This is where all the nerve endings are. The dermis is a bit thicker, about 5 or 6 millimeters, and a paper can easily cut well into the dermis layer, lighting up all those nerve endings and setting your fingertip on fire, not literally, of course.

Another reason a paper cut hurts so much is that even though a piece of paper is flimsy and doesn’t look anything like a blade, the edge of a piece of paper can be razor-sharp. You can’t really see it with your eye, but the edge of a piece of paper resembles something more like a saw with a serrated edge and does a lot of microscopic damage to your fingertip when it cuts it. Have you ever tried to cut through something with a dull knife? The knife pulls and tears rather than easily slicing through it. That’s what paper does to your fingertip when you get a paper cut.

Now if you get cut by a piece of mail or a well-worn library book, then there’s also the chance of bacteria being spread into your paper cut, which can lead to infection. You definitely don’t want that to happen, so make sure you always clean your paper cut with soap and water and cover it with a bandage right away to prevent infection and keep it from reopening.

Did you know that you have more nerve endings in your fingertips than almost any other part of your body? That’s right, your fingers are jam-packed with neurons. Some of these neurons are called nociceptors. These are sensory receptors to detect potential harm. Nociceptors make it possible for the nerve networks on your fingertips, lips, and tongue to precisely identify feelings of pressure, heat, cold, and injury. Your brain even has a specialized area to receive incoming signals from these parts in high-definition. The heightened sensing ability of your fingers, lips, and tongue makes injuries to these parts of your body all the more painful.

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