Why do redheads feel pain differently than othersBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/why-do-redheads-feel-pain-differently-than-others
Sometimes, before surgery, doctors ask redheads if their hair color is natural. They do it for a reason, but for a very serious reason. Redheads rely on 20 percent more anesthesia than everyone else. Such people are more sensitive to pain due to the peculiarities of the genetic phenotype.
The medical journal Anesthesiology in 2006 published the results of a study comparing the sensitivity to pain of red-haired women, blondes and brunettes. Scientists have determined that redheads need a large dose of drugs for anesthesia, as a genetic mutation makes them more sensitive to pain.
In 2009, the results of their work were shared by specialists from the American Dental Association. They determined that for people with red hair, it is necessary to increase the dosage of lidocaine and novocaine — local anesthetics.
But that's not all. Along the way, scientists have determined that the burning component of red pepper, capsaicin, causes less burning in red—haired women. Another oddity again concerns anesthesia. In the case of redheads, you need to be as careful as possible when prescribing opioid painkillers. They have an increased sensitivity to these drugs and the dosage should be less than usual.
All these features of redheads are laid down at the genetic level. Their melanocytes, the pigment—producing cells, have features. On their surface there are receptors that respond to melanocyte-stimulating hormones (MSG). These hormones stimulate the production of melanins, which causes darkening of the skin and hair.
Red-haired people have pale skin and bright hair just because of a mutation that turns off the sensitivity of receptors to MSG. Because of this, red—haired people cannot sunbathe - they simply do not produce dark pigment. It would seem, what does sensitivity to pain have to do with it?
Scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that due to non-functioning receptors, melanocytes of red-haired people produce fewer proopiomelanocortin (POMK) molecules.
The POMK peptide plays an important role in the sensitivity of our body. It is split into five hormones, some of which are responsible for regulating the feeling of pain. But there are also opioid receptors and they suppress pain in redheads. They work a little differently than the POMK, hence the difference in sensitivity.