Do redheads feel pain differently?

Redheads feel more pain

The answer is Yes.

I am often informed by people with red hair that they believe they feel pain to a greater degree than others as well I have been asked if red-haired people have a harder time dealing with pain.  This is a common idea in dentistry as the concept of pain is never far during our time in the office.  I believe that when somebody states that people such as themselves have more difficulty with…you name it, it is their way of asking that we dentists remember to focus on their comfort.  While it is easy to dismiss this notion as another health care myth it is important to realize that there may be some truth behind the stereotype.

Redheads require more anesthetic for pain management

The National Institute of health first published a study in 2004 that concluded redheads require more anesthetic for pain management and it has become widespread knowledge that they do, in fact, have greater difficulty with pain management due to an altered perception of pain.  According to Anthony G. Doufas of the Outcomes Research Consortium of clinical anesthesiologists Their hair color is caused by a mutation in the skin’s melanocortin-1 receptor gene, which may “inadvertently activate” similar receptors in the brain that process anxiety and pain. (source: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/06/next/redheads)

This can result in greater anxiety and fear of the dentist so it is important for clinicians to realize this and ensure heightened techniques for pain management and patient comfort.

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