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Uploaded:2019-04-27
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To peel slowly or just rip it off, what is the best way to take off an adhesive bandage? One study found some interesting results.


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Sources:

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/01/finding-a-language-for-pain/512615/
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb03379.x
https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2009/191/11/fast-versus-slow-bandaid-removal-randomised-trial
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170110-why-pain-is-so-hard-to-measure---and-treat
https://theconversation.com/unpacking-pain-what-causes-it-and-why-its-hard-to-measure-108429
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/07/02/the-neuroscience-of-pain
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20948532
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4589930/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25545856
https://whyy.org/segments/reassessing-the-assessment-of-pain-how-the-numeric-scale-became-so-popular-in-health-care/

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Children%27s_pain_scale.JPG

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FM-Pressure_Pain_Pattern.jpg
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Go to Brilliantorg/SciShow to learn more. [ INTRO ]. To peel slowly or just rip it off?

Everyone has their opinions when it comes to taking off an adhesive bandage. Maybe you’re one of the people that falls in the just rip it! camp. Or maybe you like to carefully pull it back, so you don’t accidentally wax off a strip of arm hair.

But is one way less painful than the other? At least one study says yes -- but with a pretty big asterisk. Published in 2009, this research found that taking off a bandage quickly was less painful than peeling it off slowly.

The researchers recruited 65 healthy undergrads with the promise of pizza. Which, let’s be real, is the best way to recruit undergrads. They placed adhesive bandages on their upper arms, hands, and ankles, then removed them quickly and slowly by turns.

Pain was assessed using an 11-point scale, where zero meant no pain, and 10 was the worst pain imaginable. Same as the good old-fashioned pain scale you might see on the wall at the doctor’s office. What they found was that when bandages were taken off slowly – over a 2-second period – pain scored 1.58 on average.

Quick removal only got a score of 0.92. But if you look closer at the results of this study, you’ll see there’s a lot of variation. For example, women’s pain score was significantly lower than men’s – 0.91 versus 1.64 respectively.

Also, for people with relatively little body hair, taking off the bandage slowly actually hurt more. More interestingly, though, the researchers found that the pain score was closely tied to participants’ preconceptions of what would be more painful. In other words, what people believed would hurt more was reflected in their actual pain scores.

And therein lies the huge problem of studying pain. How we perceive pain can be influenced by so many things like previous pain experiences, beliefs, culture, gender -- and body hair, apparently. One 2015 study even found that the time of day influenced how painful people found heat and cold.

The study had only male participants, but it found that morning was the least painful time for them. Ironic, since getting out of bed is at least for me, somewhat painful... Ultimately, because only you can feel your pain, it’s really hard for researchers to study it in an unbiased, scientific way.

For decades, the best we’ve had to go on is that 0 – 10 scale. Which is a really simplistic way to tell someone how something as complex as pain feels. It’s also very subjective.

What I feel as a 3, might be an 8 to someone else. And because we don’t have any good ways to measure someone’s pain, finding treatments for it that really work is even harder. But things are getting better.

Scientists have begun using brain imaging to see how the brain lights up when people feel different pain sensations -- meaning we’re making progress toward more quantitative measures of pain. And that means we might finally be able to objectively figure out which hurts more: ripping the bandage off, or peeling it away slowly. Just as quick as ripping off a bandage, but definitely a lot less painful, is learning something new with the daily challenges over at brilliant.org.

Brilliant's Daily Challenges are a fun, bite-sized way to apply and master new concepts. The daily challenges all tie into larger courses, meaning if you liked a challenge, there’s an opportunity to learn more -- and if you already did the course, they can help you keep it fresh. Best of all, the Daily Challenges are free!

But, if you sign up to become a Premium member, you’ll get access to the entire archive of daily challenges, plus all of their interactive courses. And as it happens, the first 200 people to sign up at Brilliant.org/SciShow will get 20% off the annual Premium subscription. If you check it out, you can learn something new and support us here at SciShow all at the same time. [ OUTRO ].