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Ask a Redhead: Do Redheads Need More Anesthesia?

We also talk about pain tolerance

pain tolerance

Every week, we put out a call for your redhead questions. This gives you a chance to get advice or input from our team of redheads. From beauty and fashion to lifestyle, redheads are in a unique boat, and we want to help make this community a place where you can turn to for all of your redhead needs.

This week we are covering a topic that we get asked about a lot. The topic is about pain tolerance, anesthesia, and the general redhead experience with pain and pain management. 

One redhead on Facebook asked: “What’s the science behind us needing more anesthesia? And why can we handle more pain?” And another redhead on Instagram had a similar question: “Is redhead pain tolerance high? Do we redheads have our own pain scale?”

If you haven’t experienced it yourself, you’ve probably heard that redheads need more anesthesia. Some studies show that redheads may need up to 20% more anesthesia. Some studies show that redheads may also need more general anesthesia when going under for a medical procedure and even more novocaine when at the dentist There’s limited research on this topic, but what we do know is that it’s believed that the variation in the MC1R receptor (that’s responsible for our hair color) is also linked to a change in our pain perception and response to pain medication. 

Now that we know why redheads need more anesthesia, let’s talk about the flip side of the coin. Redheads can handle more pain. Wait! We can handle more pain, but need more help with pain management? That doesn’t make any sense. This is another field that has little research, but it’s believed that redheads may have a higher tolerance up until a certain threshold, at which point we feel it more intensely, thus requiring more pain management. You can find more on this in a study by the National Health Institute: Study finds link between red hair and pain threshold.

Let’s talk about the pain scale. This is a common method used by doctors and medical professionals to help determine how their patients are feeling. While almost all pain scales are a 0-10 scale with 0 being “no pain” and 10 being “the worst pain imaginable” — this is still subjective. Everyone’s pain tolerance is different. So it wouldn’t be possible for redheads to have their own, since even amongst the redhead community, we all feel pain differently. Instead, you should make your doctors and medical professionals aware that you may perceive pain differently, or have a high pain tolerance, and it’s especially important to let them know you may need more anesthesia or alternative pain management options. Being less than 2% of the population, redheads are in the minority and we have to advocate for ourselves because not all medical professionals are aware of the redhead experience. 

Having an altered pain tolerance and needing more anesthesia can have a big impact on your life when it comes to medical experiences like visiting the dentist or even giving birth, and also other life experiences like getting a tattoo

We’ve touched on topics related to this subject many times before, but we wanted to answer some of your direct questions and also provide you with any new and updated information on the topic! Want to read more about this? Check out these posts:

Want your redhead question answered? Find us @howtobearedhead on Instagram and Facebook and look for the Ask a Redhead question box.

Rock it like a Redhead! 


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