Why Do Paper Cuts Hurt So Much? – Instant Egghead #25


Scientific American Instant Egghead Ow! A paper cut! Paper cuts are usually small and shallow injuries. So why do they hurt so much? A close look at the anatomy of our skin and the structure of paper reveals a few explanations. We usually get paper cuts on our hands and fingers, where our skin is packed with neurons. Some of these neurons, called nociceptors, detect potential harm. These cells respond to high temperatures, harsh chemicals and any pressure that threatens to break the skin. Nociceptors trigger a cascade of electrical and chemical signals that eventually reach the brain, informing it about injury. In turn, our brain makes us aware of injury with the experience of pain. Also, a paper cut is not quite as clean as it looks. A paper’s edge may seem perfectly smooth, but on a microscopic level, it’s actually pretty jagged. A thin piece of paper cuts through skin more like a saw than a knife, ripping apart our cells. And paper leaves behind chemical-coated particles, irritating the wound. Another thing, since paper cuts are generally shallow, they don’t bleed or clot very much. That means damaged tissues and neurons remain exposed. Every time we use our hands, the wound flexes open, disturbing these neurons. Finally, we should also consider the psychology of a paper cut. We probably pay more attention to a paper cut because it’s on a body part we use so often. It’s also surprising and kind of upsetting to be injured by something as seemingly benign as paper. For Scientific American’s Instant Egghead, I’m Ferris Jabr.

100 Replies to “Why Do Paper Cuts Hurt So Much? – Instant Egghead #25”

  1. Dude you are actually wrong the paper lines are so sharp and little that's why it cuts our fingers wright guys

  2. My parents told me when i was a kid if i ever get a paper cut something will happen and that is ill turn into a flying paper

  3. The first papercut that I ever got was in that little web part between my index finger and my thumb – ouch.

  4. If there are two thing that REALLY piss me off.
    1.stubbing my toe
    2. Small stinging cuts on or in between my fingers.

  5. Oh god, watching 1:04 was so uncomfortable, I wanted to look away so bad but I couldn't stop watching at the same time. XD

  6. Guy: Gets Papercut Ahhh A Papercut
    Me: Gets Papercut AHHHHH WTF OMG IT HURTS SO MUCH IM GONNA DIE!!!! CALL THE AMBULANCE, TELL MY MOM I LOVE HER!!! AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

  7. I got food and sat down ready to eat and watch, guess what? I touched my iPad and got a fricken big paper cut

  8. I got a paper cut on the inside of my eye lid, the inside corner. And every time I blinked or squinted it hurt really bad.

  9. Currently watching this with one very bloody boi paper cut on my right thumb and a very small boi paper cut left thumb same exact spot…AND IM QUESTIONING HOW AM I STILL. ;-;

  10. Mehh i had that alot of times and my brain doesn't hurt at all and it's fine and nithing happened to me

  11. me, falls down the stairs because of a badly shaped triangle step: ouch a little scratch

    paper cut: e t e r n a l , e x t e r n a l a n d s p i r i t u a l s u f f e r i n g

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *