Why do my fingers burn when I cry?
January 11, 2010 3:09 AM   Subscribe

Since I was a teenager I have had a weird physical reaction to crying.

When I am about to cry, before the tears come, the backs of my index fingers (between the lower knuckles) start to burn - it feels like they've just been rubbed raw with sandpaper. They continue to burn until well after the crying is done. It hurts for sure, but I've actually found it to be helpful sometimes - it's like an early warning system that lets me get somewhere safe if I am about to cry in the office, for example, so I don't embarass myself.

The burning only seems to happen when I have a "real" cry - when I am genuinely angry or upset about something that feels important. I have very watery eyes and tend to cry all the time, for example, when I'm laughing, at pretty much every movie ever made, and when I think too hard about really cute animals. The finger-burning doesn't accompany these tears.

So what's going on here?
posted by Wroksie to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I suspect it's not the crying per se, but the underlying emotional state you're in that causes it. There are a whole load of physiological things that go on with the fight or flight response that might be causing a reaction in your fingers - a change in temperature caused by change in blood flow could be irritating dry skin for example.
posted by Coobeastie at 3:34 AM on January 11, 2010

See here also.
posted by megatherium at 4:02 AM on January 11, 2010

Yeah, I used to have that happen in high school, only on my forehead, and it happened for both laughing really hard and crying. Coobeastie's theory about dry skin getting irritated by emotion-related changes in blood flow makes a lot of sense.
posted by limeonaire at 5:41 AM on January 11, 2010

I'm similarly prone to crying (cute animals especially!) and I get patches of itchy hives on my wrists, ankles and behind my knees when I have a serious crying fit. This also happens when I go swimming in cold water so I think it has something to do with temperature and blood flow, like Coobeastie said.
posted by supernaturelle at 7:47 AM on January 11, 2010

Something is associated with your fingers burning and feeling hurt.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:13 AM on October 15, 2010

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