I just got my finger burnt (first degree burn $\Rightarrow$ I didn't even bother to bear the wound). It didn't hurt much, even when I pressed the wound. However, when exposed to heat (hot water, but not so hot to hurt undamaged skin), the pain became at least nasty.

Is it an evolutionary adaptation to avoid hot objects not to get burnt again?

  • $\begingroup$ All traits that you observe have accumulated because of evolution. Is your question on enhanced sensitivity of burn area about its "how" or "why" ? Your reasoning on "why" is plausible and there is nothing much to say about that. Most "why" questions tend to have a philosophical aspect to it because we can at best, only make sensible guesses. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jul 3 '15 at 14:26
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    $\begingroup$ The burnt skin is extra sensitive because it is injured, just like a broken bone or a cut - it is the body's way of saying be gentle. The general evolution of pain, and sensitivity, acts to teach us to not repeat dangerous/harmful things, but this does not explain particularly why a burnt bit of flesh is extra sensitive. $\endgroup$ – rg255 Jul 3 '15 at 14:37
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    $\begingroup$ Local inflammation (nerve receives inflammatory signaling molecules from its local environment) and direct injury can both increase the sensitivity of nociceptive (pain/noxious stimuli sensing) nerves. This sensitivity can drive animals to guard the injured area. This may be beneficial to survival. Persons unable to sense pain often accidentally self-injure, perhaps further sensitization helps protect the weak/injured area). So it's plausible, but as WYSIWYG said, we cannot prove why this behavior arose. We can only make reasonable conjectures. $\endgroup$ – InactionPotential Jul 3 '15 at 14:42

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