If you are a redhead, you may already know - or at least suspect - that your relationship to pain is a bit different from your blonde or dark-haired friends. And if you are the parent of a redheaded child, but are not a redhead yourself, you may have wondered why your little carrot top seems very sensitive.
For years, it was recognized by anesthesiologists that redheads require more pain-killers than others. Eventually, researchers heeded what was common knowledge among the anesthesiologists and began to investigate. It turns out that the gene associated with red hair is also linked to endorphin production. There is also some evidence that topical anesthesia (such as Novocaine) is less effective on redheads, making them especially anxious about visits to the dentist. And yet it's more complicated than merely being more sensitive to certain kinds of pain, because there's also evidence that redheads are less sensitive to other kinds of pain.
Physical courage, as we have said on this blog many times, is related to one's willingness to tolerate pain - or the risk of pain. Thus if you are the parent of a natural redhead, it may be useful to you to read about some of the research about redheads and pain. Your child's path to develop physical courage may be easier if you have some familiarity with this information. Go here to read WebMD's page on pain tolerance, go here to read Discover magazine on the Secrets of Redheads, go here to read the New York Times on The Pain of Being a Redhead.