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Redheads Feel More Pain?

Blondes may stereotypically have more fun, but some studies show those born with red locks might feel more pain. So we all need to treat our ginger-headed friends more gingerly since research shows they're more sensitive to hot and cold, and strangely, redheads also require more anesthesia to become numb.

For those with brown, black, and blond hair, the Melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) gene produces melanin, which gives our hair and skin color. In redheads, this gene is mutated and produces pheomelanin instead, causing pale skin, freckles, and strawberry tresses. MC1R mutations also affect carrot tops' perception of pain and the effectiveness of drugs that are used to block the sensation of pain.

Not only is this research interesting (and may explain why your friend screamed her red head off when she got her ears pierced), but it may also help scientists design drugs that are more person-specific based on an individual's genetic profile.

If you're a redhead, please share your thoughts on this hairy subject.

Image Source: WireImage
Join The Conversation
alphaxigirl07 alphaxigirl07 8 years
i laughed when i read the title to this because my boyfriend always says i feel pain from piratically nothing. only other things i have noticed are that i bruise easily. the article also mentions temperature.. i always feel like i'm complaining of being cold. that aside, i think i handle pain fine.. but who knows? i have no other comparison! i don't need extra novocain, shots aren't a problem, piercings have never been an issue and even when i'm sick, i handle the pain associated with that better than others usually.
divinedebris divinedebris 8 years
I was born a strawberry-blond and I never thought about the pain issue at all but this kind of makes sense. When I younger I had an episode at a dentist's office where I freaked out, an intense holding the chair and won't move freak out, because the pain horrible and I wasn't completely numb... and now it all makes sense. I don't know about being sensitive to temperatures, maybe that's because I was more blond than a true redhead. Don't know, interesting stuff though.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
I don't think there's a way to measure this accurately because we can't get into another person's body to see how their pain relates to ours. Does that even make sense? For example, the worst pain someone has ever experienced (so a 10 on the pain scale) might feel only as bad as the middle pain another person has experienced (so a 5 on that person's pain scale). Am I making any sense? On the dentist front, I'm somewhat fair-skinned, but I tan really easily and my hair is medium blond (but was platinum when I was a child). And I also need way more Novocaine than the average patient! When I got my root canal I could feel it the whole time, but I thought it was normal and it was uncomfortable, but not painful, so I didn't say anything. When they actually pulled the pulp out, though, it was excruciatingly painful. Since then, I've always gotten extra Novocaine! (And sometimes nitrous to go with it.)
Renee3327 Renee3327 8 years
My entire family is red-headed and freckled and about half of us have an issue. It's not so much that we can't tolerate pain (I consider myself to be quite tough) but novacaine does not work on us. My dentist will give me three shots for a small filling and I still feel it - I handle it quite well but I can feel it and cannot get completely numb. A bunch of my aunts and cousins have the same issue (all with red hair and freckles) so I do think there is a lot of truth to it. I've also had family have issue with anesthesia. It's less about the pain and more about the body's nerve response/resistence to anesthetics.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 8 years
Interesting, because I just recently went to the dentist and had to have extra novocaine (and I have naturally reddish-brown hair and freckles). It didn't have anything to do with tolerating pain, but rather, I still had feeling in my gums when they should have been numb. I think an individual's "threshold" for pain is probably more psychological than anything. I can be really sensitive to some types of pain, but then things like giving blood and getting shots don't bother me at all.
hottpink hottpink 8 years
I am a natural redhead well, it leans more towards red-brown and I have a VERY high pain tolerance. Other then that,
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 8 years
I was born with red hair, which fell out when I was about one and after about a year of being bald, it grew in blonde. still have the pale skin/freckles and look better with my hair dyed red than blonde (compliments my skin more). I think my blonde hair is just a fluke. Like Julia RG, the amount of anesthetics and numbing agents my dentist has to use is obscene. He's always amazed that he ends up giving me two extra shots of novacaine than what he thought because I can still feel it when I shouldn't. And I have had moles removed before and had to get the extra numbing done too!
Asche Asche 8 years
Funny, I've been told by every surgeon I've ever had that pale blonds feel the most pain.
sarahberra sarahberra 8 years
not true at all. I'm a redhead, and I handle pain better than anyone I know.
darkangeldaria darkangeldaria 8 years
I'm a redhead, but I have a pretty high pain threshold so this is surprising.
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