The microscopic damage hits the most sensitive nerves, too. The concentrated nerves on the hands have a very low threshold to activate and send a signal to the brain, says Dr. Carmen R. Green, associate professor of pain medicine at the University of Michigan.
Meanwhile, larger nerves, which send dull aching pain, are tucked safely away deeper in the flesh. "Sometimes, you can slice your finger open and it looks bad, but it doesn't hurt that much," says Green.
So, since a paper cut is shallow, and unlikely to bleed a lot, it will more likely sting, instead of produce a dull throb. Unfortunately, the shallow cut only brings more bad news.
Because paper cuts are shallow, they are less likely to bleed, clot and seal up the wound with a scab. That means the raw nerves are open to the air, and keep sending new messages of pain to the brain.
Cover the cut. Sealing the wound will stimulate fewer pain receptors, and it will help the cut heal, says Dr. Nicole Neuschler, assistant professor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York.
"People often don't try to seal the wound," says Neuchler. "But it could be as simple as Vaseline, liquid bandage, Super Glue or Crazy Glue."