Do redheads feel more pain than the rest of us?

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In a recent Instagram story, NYC based Fashion and Lifestyle blogger Erika Fox, also known as Retro Flame, started the conversation when she posted about the pain she was suffering following a recent teeth-whitening process. “I was in agony. I had to go to bed. I couldn’t stay up.” Her followers quickly weighed in on the discussion; they claimed that redheads feel more pain than their blonde or brunette counterparts. While this may seem completely ridiculous and false, there are actually some studies to back up the claims.

Less than 2% of the world’s population, or 140 million people, have red hair. Therefore, it’s safe to say the world is fascinated by this. Well, our fascination is just about to go even deeper. While blondes are said to have more fun, it has been claimed that people with red hair feel pain differently to the rest of us. It is alleged that due to their genetic makeup, redheads may require more anesthesia and experience pain differently.


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In a recent study carried out by the American Dental Association, the researchers enrolled 144 participants; 67 natural red-haired and 77 natural dark haired in an observational study. While it did not explicitly show that red-haired people experience more pain, it did find that red-haired people may experience increased anxiety regarding dental care.

Another research study suggests that red-haired people may experience more pain due to resistance to anesthesia. The purpose of the study was to investigate the possible link between the phenotype expressing red-hair and “anesthetic efficacy”.


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Annie Hughes, Bachelor of Dental Science undergraduate at Trinity College Dublin said that there is a lack of evidence in the area.

Results from the current evidence base seem to be inconclusive

Additionally, the results of these studies must also be interpreted with caution due to the small sample sizes

While there is certain weight to the claims, it seems as though further research is needed in this area.

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