Do Red Heads Feel More Pain?

This might seem intense, but being a redhead has affected my life in so many ways. I stand out like a sore thumb. I’m always getting called ginger, Shirley Temple, Annie, or carrot top. If I stand in the sun for more than five seconds I burn and gain fifty more freckles. We, redheads,  only make up 2% of the world population. I thought I knew everything about being a redhead. I was wrong. The other day I was walking and I stubbed my toe on the side of the chair. I yelped because for some reason it felt like the most painful thing in the world to me. My friend responded, “don’t feel bad that you’re a baby, red heads feel more pain.” I was so confused. Skeptical on whether or not her statement was true, I decided to do research. 


Surprisingly, she was right! But how could a hair color affect your nerve cells? Scientists believe that redheads are more prone to pain due to a mutation in a gene that affects the actual hair color. The mutated gene produces a protein that accounts for pale, white skin, red hair, and freckles. This regular gene produces a protein, known as melanin, that allows those with hair color other than red to allow the skin to darken. Additionally, more symptoms from this mutated gene include perception of pain and the effect of specific drugs used to get rid of the feeling of pain and discomfort. In other words, we, redheads, are more sensitive to things like anesthesia and drugs that are painkillers. For example, it has been found that redheads require twenty percent more anesthesia than people with other hair colors.  Continuing on with more effects that the mutated gene has on us, redheads are very sensitive to warm and cold temperatures. Surprisingly, colder temperatures harm redheads more than warmer temperatures. In fact, redheads tend to become more sensitive and feel more pain in temperatures ten degrees warmer than the average for blondes and brunettes.  


Redheads’ extreme resistance to anesthesia has caused most of us to avoid dentists in fear of having to undergo dental work that requires a large amount of anesthesia. In addition to fearing the dentist, we also have to ensure that, if a procedure requires anesthesia, that the doctor goes into the procedure aware of the fact that an excessive amount of anesthesia will be necessary. The type of pain that redheads are most effected by is thermal pain. Now, when people joke with me saying that redheads experience more pain than others I know that this is a real thing , and will not be taking it as a joke. Also, when I suddenly get sunburn and even more freckles, I can attribute that to our increased sensitivity when it comes to pain. It amazes me how I have been able to go this long without ever realizing or stumbling across the proven fact that redheads are more sensitive to pain and experience a greater amount of pain than blondes or brunettes.

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2 thoughts on “Do Red Heads Feel More Pain?

  1. rvm5523

    Great post! I can’t really relate since I’m not a red head but I have definitely have heard this rumor before and know a few red-headed people that have the same struggles. After reading your post I can understand how the nerves cells of red-headed people differ from those with different color. I found a link that supports your hypothesis. did an article on why surgeons fear red-heads, like you explained why dentists fear for the same reasons. Here it is, Thanks for the post!

  2. Dante Labricciosa

    Well, this is news to me. This just goes to show of what we learned in class, Lamarck vs. Darwin. In the more accepted theory of Darwinism, exploiting natural selection, redheads have adapted to their region, most likely Ireland and other northern european countries, as there they would have a higher chance of survival that have historically let them outlive those otherwise. So yes, redheads may endure a higher pain from active nerve cells due to their genes. But pain isn’t just all that can be established that let us different races differ from another, such as muscle growth as some races have high correlations to being better in certain aspects, more explained through this webpage: Also, though you posted relevant information, you should cite primary research, rather than articles that base their own opinion and analysis. Your post is very interesting, as we all wonder how our own race differs rather than just complexion, but could go further like any other post.

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