You'd think the body part used for kissing would be one of the most sensitive areas you have. And for the most part, it's true that lips are high on the chart of sensitive body parts. Sensitivity is subjective, though, because everyone's body is different.
Receptor cells in your body give your brain information -- about the world around you and about what's going on inside of you. Each type of receptor cell is able to give you a different type of information [source: Rutgers]. Receptor cells in the nose, for example, give you information about how things smell. Touch receptors, called Meissner's corpuscles, are the receptor cells for detecting light touch [source: Rutgers].
Though taste and smell receptor cells are located only in small areas of the body, the receptor cells for touch are located all over the body, in your skin. Where there are many receptors, or the cells are more concentrated, your sense of touch is heightened. So, the greater the number of receptors a body part has, the more sensitive it will be.
It is true that the lips do have many of these touch receptors. When scientists list the top areas of the body in terms of sensitivity, the lips and fingertips are often ranked as the areas with the highest concentrations of receptor cells [source: Society for Neuroscience].
This sensitivity is also connected to the brain. The areas of the brain that receive messages from touch receptors in the lips and hands are much larger than the areas for receiving messages from less sensitive places, such as the back. More brain power is spent interpreting sensations of touch from the lips and fingers than from other areas that contain these cells [source: Society for Neuroscience].
So, yes, lips are one of the most sensitive parts of the body. Depending on your particular arrangement of nerves, however, your lips may or may not be more sensitive than your hands.
For more information about your sense of touch, visit the links on the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Rutgers. "The Nervous System and Special Senses: Meissner's Corpuscle." The Virtual Biology Labs. (Accessed Sept. 30, 2009)http://bio.rutgers.edu/~gb102/lab_5/104bm.html
- Rutgers. "The Nervous System and Special Senses: The Peripheral Nervous System and Reflex Arcs." The Virtual Biology Labs. (Accessed Sept. 30, 2009)http://bio.rutgers.edu/~gb102/lab_5/103am-pns.html
- Society for Neuroscience. "Sensation and Perception." Brain Facts. (Accessed Sept. 30, 2009)http://brainfacts.stage.sfn.org/sensing-thinking-behaving/senses-and-perception/articles/2012/touch-and-pain/