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There’s a scientific reason why paper cuts hurt *so* freaking much


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Photo: Stocksy/Andrey Pavlov

Broken bones? Ouch. Sprained ankle? Yikes. But, paper cuts? Good lord, the sheer agony. It doesn’t make sense why such an itty-bitty wound would cause such a massive and, TBH, completely unbearable amount of pain, but there’s a scientific reason behind it. So get ready to feel way less ridiculous for acting like a total baby when your bullet journal spontaneously transforms into a deli slicer.

According to The Conversation, the places where paper cuts typically occur—fingers, lips, tongue—are super-sensitive. Because of the nerve networks in those spots, you feel the feels a whole lot more, whether it’s pressure, heat, and—you guessed it—even the smallest of injuries. While these signal-receiving powers are so strong and keep you out of danger (by doing things like jolting you after touching a scalding-hot pan), there is a downside. Because when you do injure yourself, it hurts like a…well, you know.

“The depth of [a paper cut] wound is perfect for exposing and exciting the nerve fibers of the skin without damaging them the way a deeper, more destructive injury can. With a paper cut, the nerve fibers are lit, and they are fully operational.” —Gabriel Neal, MD

The initial pain isn’t the only reason paper cuts suck so much, though. According to family physician Gabriel Neal, MD, the fact that you use your fingers, lips, and tongue all day, every day also makes it really hard for the injuries to heal, causing you to go through the same pain whenever the gash reopens. Plus, a piece of paper slices just deeply enough to really drive you insane. “The depth of the wound is perfect for exposing and exciting the nerve fibers of the skin without damaging them the way a deeper, more destructive injury can, which severely damages the nerve fibers, impairing their ability to communicate pain. With a paper cut, the nerve fibers are lit, and they are fully operational,” Dr. Neal says.

If knowing this information is making you never want to use any sort of paper ever again, same. Here’s to saving the trees and saving your fingers.

Here’s exactly how to make ginger oil, the magical pain-relieving elixir. Or, try these six foods and drinks to help ease your headaches.

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