Most Painful Places to Get a Tattoo

September 01, 2023

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Are you considering getting a tattoo but worried about the pain? You're not alone! Many people wonder how painful are tattoos before taking the plunge. This article will discuss the most painful areas to get a tattoo and help you make an informed decision.

When it comes to tattoo placement, several factors can make the experience more or less painful. These factors include the location on your body, how much fat is in that area, the thickness of your skin, and the density of nerve endings. Knowing these factors can help you choose a tattoo spot that matches your pain tolerance.

So, let's dive into these factors to give you a better understanding of what does a tattoo feel like and help you decide on the best placement for you.

Location of the Tattoo on the Body

The location of your tattoo on your body can significantly influence how much pain you'll feel. When it comes to getting inked, how much do tattoos hurt is a common concern. The good news is, there are methods to lessen the pain during the tattooing process.

One popular way to manage pain is by using numbing cream for tattoos. But you might ask, does numbing cream work on tattoos?

Yes, numbing cream for tattoos is a topical anesthetic you apply to your skin before the tattoo session. It helps by numbing the area, making the pain more bearable. Many people are curious about whether these creams actually work, and the answer is generally yes. However, it's worth mentioning that the effectiveness can vary from person to person.

So, what do tattoos feel like when using numbing cream? Well, it's not a one-size-fits-all answer. While numbing cream can make the process less painful for some, others might not experience the same level of relief. Factors like your personal pain tolerance and the thickness of your skin can affect how well the cream works for you.

If you are considering using numbing cream for your tattoo, doing a patch test beforehand is recommended to ensure that you are not allergic to the cream. Additionally, it is important to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and consult with your tattoo artist to determine the best method for pain management during the tattooing process.

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Amount of Fat in the Area

Having more fat in that area can contribute to increased pain during tattooing. Body fat plays a significant role in how you perceive pain when getting inked. When it comes to how painful are tattoos, the amount of fat in the targeted area can make a noticeable difference. Here's what you need to know:

Firstly, body fat can make the skin less sensitive to pain. The presence of fat acts as a cushion, reducing the sensation of pain. Thicker fat layers can result in a decreased perception of pain during tattooing. If you have more fat in the area where you plan to get a tattoo, you might experience less pain than someone with less body fat.

However, excessive body fat can also lead to increased pain sensitivity. The pressure put on the nerves and blood vessels in the area can heighten pain perception. This means that if you have excess body fat, you may be more prone to feeling more pain during the tattooing process.

Moreover, the distribution of body fat matters. Certain body areas, such as the abdomen or thighs, tend to accumulate more fat. These areas may be more sensitive to pain during tattooing due to the higher fat concentration. So, if you're considering getting a tattoo in one of these areas, be prepared for potentially increased pain.

Understanding how body fat affects pain can help you make smarter choices about where to place your tattoo. If you're wondering where do tattoos hurt the least, consider areas with a moderate amount of fat that can act as a natural cushion. Keep in mind that everyone's pain tolerance varies, and body composition can differ from person to person. Always consult with your tattoo artist to discuss any concerns you may have about pain during the tattooing process.

Thickness of the Skin

Skin thickness can impact the level of pain experienced during tattooing. Understanding how skin thickness affects tattoo pain can help you make informed decisions about your tattoo placement and prepare for the level of discomfort you may experience.

Here are three key points to keep in mind:

  1. Thicker skin provides protection: With thicker skin, the tattoo needle penetrates through more layers before reaching the nerve endings. This can result in a decreased sensation of pain during the tattooing process. If you have thicker skin, you may experience less pain than someone with thinner skin.
  2. Thin skin is more sensitive: Individuals with more delicate skin may experience more pain during tattooing. This is because the tattoo needle is closer to the nerve endings, leading to a higher level of discomfort. If you have thin skin, it's important to be prepared for increased pain during tattooing.
  3. Skin texture also plays a role: In addition to skin thickness, skin texture can also influence tattoo discomfort. Rougher skin texture can cause more discomfort during tattooing compared to smoother skin. So, even if you have thicker skin and are more irregular in texture, you may still experience more pain during the tattooing process.
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Number of Nerve Endings in the Area

Areas with a higher concentration of nerve endings tend to be more sensitive and can result in increased pain during tattooing. The density of nerve endings in a particular area can determine how sensitive that area is to despair. To give you a better understanding, let's take a look at a table that lists some body parts and their corresponding nerve density levels:

Body Part Nerve Density Level
Armpit High
Rib Cage High
Ankles High
Upper Arm Moderate
Thigh Moderate
Forearm Moderate
Back Low
Calf Low
Shoulder Low


As you can see, areas like the armpit, rib cage, and ankles have a high nerve density, making them more sensitive to pain during tattooing. On the other hand, body parts like the back, calf, and shoulder have a low nerve density, resulting in less pain during the process. It's important to note that individual pain tolerance can vary, so what may be painful for one person might not be as painful for another.

Knowing the number of nerve endings in different areas can help you make informed decisions when choosing your tattoo's placement. If you're particularly concerned about pain, avoid areas with high nerve density. However, it's also worth mentioning that pain management techniques, such as using numbing creams or taking breaks during the session, can help alleviate discomfort. Discuss these options with your tattoo artist to ensure a more comfortable tattooing experience.

Presence of Bones Near the Tattoo Site

Tattooing over joints and bone structures can be more painful, but there are techniques to manage the discomfort. When getting a tattoo in bony areas, it's important to be aware of the sensitivity of these regions and take necessary steps to minimize pain. Here are three techniques you can use to make the experience more comfortable:

  1. Numbing creams or sprays: Consider applying numbing creams or numbing sprays to the area before your tattoo session. These products work by temporarily numbing the skin, reducing the pain sensation during the tattooing process. Make sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and consult with your tattoo artist for their recommendation.
  2. Taking breaks: It's perfectly okay to take breaks during tattooing, especially if you're experiencing discomfort. Taking short breaks allows you to rest and recover, making the overall experience more manageable. Feel free to communicate with your tattoo artist and let them know if you need a break. They will understand and accommodate your needs.
  3. Communication with the artist: Choosing an experienced tattoo artist who is familiar with tattooing over bones can significantly affect your comfort level. A skilled artist will know how to work with the contours of your body and minimize unnecessary pain. Communicating openly with your artist and discussing any concerns or discomfort you may have is crucial. They can provide guidance and make adjustments to ensure a more comfortable experience.

Biological Differences Between Men and Women

One factor influencing pain perception during tattooing is the biological differences between men and women. Research suggests that there may be gender differences in pain perception, with women generally more accepting of pain than men. However, it is important to note that no specific research suggests that women experience more pain than men or vice versa during tattooing.

To better understand these biological differences, let's look at some key factors that may contribute to pain perception in men and women.

Men Women
Hormones Testosterone, which is typically higher in men, may contribute to a higher pain threshold. Estrogen, which is typically higher in women, may increase sensitivity to pain.
Skin Thickness Men tend to have thicker skin, which may provide some protection against pain. Women generally have thinner skin, making them potentially more susceptible to pain.
Pain Processing Brain imaging studies have shown that men and women may process pain differently. Women may have a greater activation of pain-related brain regions. Men may have a higher pain tolerance due to differences in pain processing pathways.


Understanding these biological differences can help individuals better prepare for the tattooing experience. While women may generally be more accepting of pain, it does not mean that men cannot handle the pain of getting a tattoo. It is essential to remember that pain perception is highly individual and can vary from person to person.

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Experience and Pressure Pain Threshold

When considering pain tolerance during tattooing, it's important to recognize how previous tattoo experiences can impact your pressure pain threshold. People with tattoos may have a higher pain tolerance than those who have never been inked. If you have already gone through the process of getting a tattoo, you may be better equipped to handle the pain.

Here are three ways that previous tattoo experience can affect your pain tolerance during tattooing:

  1. Familiarity: Having previous tattoos means that you are familiar with the sensations and discomfort associated with the process. You know what to expect and maybe mentally prepared for the pain. This familiarity can make the experience more manageable and result in a higher pain tolerance.
  2. Conditioning: Getting a tattoo involves enduring a certain level of pain. Over time, your body may develop a conditioning response where it becomes more resilient to pain. This means that repeated exposure to the tattooing process can lead to an increased pain threshold, making subsequent tattoos less painful.
  3. Mindset: Previous tattoo experience can also impact your mood when getting a new tattoo. If your previous tattoo experiences were positive and you could handle the pain well, you may approach your new tattoo more relaxed and confident. This positive mindset can help you better cope with the pain, making it feel less intense.

Age and Weight Impact on Tattoo Pain

Understanding the role of experience and pressure pain threshold in tattooing is crucial. Now, let's delve into other factors that can influence how much discomfort you might feel: age and weight.

Age can indeed affect how your skin responds to the tattooing process. Older folks often have skin that's more sensitive, making the experience a bit more uncomfortable for them. Plus, as skin ages, it tends to get thinner and may bruise more easily, adding to the potential for more pain.

Weight also plays a role in how you might experience tattoo discomfort. If you're on the heavier side, you might find that your skin is more sensitive due to the extra pressure on your body. This added sensitivity could make the tattooing process more painful for you.

However, it's crucial to remember that everyone's pain tolerance is different. While age and weight can influence how much discomfort you might feel, they won't be the deciding factors for everyone. If you're wondering what does tattoo feel like, it's a mix of individual factors, including age and weight, that will determine your experience.

To make the process as comfortable as possible, talk to your tattoo artist about any concerns you may have. They can offer techniques or suggestions to help you manage the pain, like using numbing creams or taking short breaks during the session.

In the end, how much pain you'll feel when getting a tattoo is a very personal experience. Factors like age and weight do play a role, but remember, pain perception is highly individual. If you're considering a specific area like the thigh and wondering how painful are thigh tattoos, consult with your tattoo artist for personalized advice.

Mapping Tattoo Pain Levels on the Body

Pain is a subjective experience, and when it comes to tattoos, everyone has their own tolerance levels. However, having some insights into the type of pain you might encounter can help you prepare better for your tattoo session.

Many describe the sensation of getting a tattoo as a combination of scratching, burning, and stinging. It's somewhat akin to experiencing a mild sunburn or being scratched by a cat. But it's essential to remember that one person's mild discomfort could be another person's agony.

When considering where does tattoo hurt most, some body parts are notably more sensitive than others. Areas with more bones, such as the ribs, collarbone, or feet, can be particularly painful due to the lack of cushioning flesh. Similarly, if you're contemplating a tattoo on areas with thin skin, like the inside of your wrist or behind your ear, brace yourself for a bit more sting.

On the flip side, there are also body parts that generally cause less pain. Areas with more muscle and fat, like the thighs or buttocks, tend to be less sensitive. The extra cushioning in these regions can make the tattooing process more bearable.

Several factors can influence your pain experience, including your personal pain threshold, your mental state, and even the expertise of the tattoo artist. Therefore, it's advisable to have an open discussion with your tattoo artist before getting started. Address any concerns you may have and ask questions to ensure you're as comfortable as possible during the session.

If you're looking for tips on how to make tattoos hurt less, consider creating a body map to indicate which areas are likely to be more or less painful. This could serve as a useful guide for your tattoo journey, helping you make informed decisions about placement and pain management.

Choosing Tattoo Placements for Minimum Discomfort

Getting a tattoo can be a painful experience, but there are several steps you can take to minimize tattoo pain. Here are some actionable tips to help you reduce discomfort during and after the tattooing process:

1. Use Numbing Cream: Consider applying a numbing cream to the area being tattooed before the session. Numbing creams contain ingredients like lidocaine or benzocaine that temporarily dull the sensation of pain.

2. Stay Hydrated: Ensure you are well-hydrated before getting a tattoo. Proper hydration can help keep your skin supple, making it easier for the tattoo needle to penetrate and potentially reducing pain.

3. Choose the Right Placement: Certain areas of the body tend to be more sensitive than others. If you are concerned about pain, opt for areas with more flesh and muscle, such as the upper arm, thigh, or calf. Avoid bony areas or places with thin skin, like the ribcage or ankle.

4. Take Breaks: If your tattoo session is lengthy, don't hesitate to ask for short breaks. Taking breaks allows your body to relax and can help manage pain and discomfort during the process.

5. Deep Breathing and Relaxation Techniques: Practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques during the tattooing process. Focusing on your breath can help distract you from the pain and promote relaxation.

6. Communicate with Your Tattoo Artist: Let your tattoo artist know if you are experiencing significant pain or discomfort during the process. They may be able to adjust their technique or take additional measures to minimize pain.

7. Proper Aftercare: Follow the proper aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist. Keeping the tattoo clean, moisturized, and protected can help minimize pain during the healing process.

Remember, everyone's pain tolerance is different, so these tips may not completely eliminate all discomfort. However, by following these suggestions, you can help reduce tattoo pain and make the experience more bearable.

Highlight body areas that tend to hurt less like arms, thighs, calves.

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Managing Discomfort During Your Tattoo Session

So, you're thinking about getting a tattoo but are concerned about the discomfort. You're not alone; many people wonder, how painful are tattoos? The good news is that there are multiple ways to manage and lessen the discomfort. Open dialogue with your tattoo artist, deep breathing exercises, distractions, and the use of numbing creams are just a few methods that can make your tattoo session more tolerable. It's crucial to focus on your comfort and well-being throughout the process, and remember, a good tattoo artist will be willing to collaborate with you to ensure a positive experience.

Here's a list of suggestions to consider:

  1. Communicate with your artist: Before you start, talk openly with your tattoo artist about any concerns or fears you might have. If you need a break during the session, don't hesitate to ask. Your artist can adjust their technique to make you more comfortable.

  2. Deep breathing: Deep breathing can help relax both your body and mind. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. This focus on breathing can divert your attention from the discomfort and help you stay calm.

  3. Distractions: Bring something to keep your mind off the tattooing process. Whether it's music, an audiobook, or a favorite TV show on your phone, a good distraction can make the experience more bearable.

  4. Numbing creams or sprays: If you're wondering what do tattoos feel like, you might consider using a numbing cream or spray before the session. These products can lessen the pain, but consult with your tattoo artist or a healthcare professional before using them, as some might interfere with the tattooing process.

  5. Take breaks: Listen to your body. If you're struggling with the discomfort, ask for short breaks to stretch, relax, and mentally prepare for the next part.

  6. Focus on positive thoughts: Keep your mind on the positive aspects of getting a tattoo. Whether it's the design's significance or just the excitement of getting inked, positive thinking can shift your focus away from the discomfort.

  7. Stay hydrated and nourished: Being well-hydrated and well-fed before the session can help your body manage discomfort better. Dehydration and hunger can make things worse, so take care of these basic needs before getting tattooed.

  8. Use numbing cream: If you're particularly sensitive or have a low pain tolerance, discuss using a numbing cream with your tattoo artist. These creams can minimize the sensation of pain and answer the question of how much do tattoos hurt for you.

  9. Choose a less sensitive area: Some body parts are less painful to tattoo than others. If you're concerned about the pain, opt for areas with more muscle or thicker skin.

  10. Wear comfortable clothing: Choose loose, comfy clothes that give easy access to the tattoo area. This can help you relax and minimize any extra discomfort caused by tight clothing.

  11. Stay relaxed: Tension and held breath can intensify discomfort. Try to keep your muscles relaxed during the session.

  12. Take pain relievers if necessary: If you're experienced with tattoos and know you'll need them, consult your doctor about taking over-the-counter pain relievers before the session.

  13. Distract yourself with conversation: Chatting with your tattoo artist or a friend can divert your attention from the discomfort.

  14. Use cold compresses: A cold compress can numb the skin and lessen discomfort. Check with your tattoo artist if they have any available.

  15. Practice self-care after the session: Proper aftercare can minimize discomfort during the healing process. Follow your tattoo artist's instructions for the best results.

Remember, tattoos are a personal choice, and it's crucial to prioritize your comfort throughout the process. If you ever feel overwhelmed, don't hesitate to speak up and take a break. Your tattoo artist should work with you to make the experience as positive as possible.

Aftercare is a vital part of the tattoo journey, especially when it comes to managing pain and discomfort during the healing phase. Proper care can not only speed up the healing process but also minimize the risk of complications. Here are ten essential aftercare tips to help you navigate through the healing process comfortably while maintaining the quality of your new tattoo.

  1. Keep the tattoo clean: Gently wash the tattoo with lukewarm water and a mild, fragrance-free soap. Use your hand or a soft cloth, and avoid rubbing too hard. Pat the area dry with a clean towel or let it air dry.

  2. Apply a thin layer of ointment: After cleaning, apply a thin layer of tattoo-specific ointment or a fragrance-free moisturizer, as recommended by your tattoo artist. This helps in keeping the skin hydrated and minimizes dryness, which can make the tattoo area uncomfortable.

  3. Avoid picking or scratching: It's tempting, but don't pick or scratch your healing tattoo. Doing so can introduce bacteria, cause scarring, and extend the healing time. If the itch becomes too much, gently pat the area or use a cold compress.

  4. Wear loose clothing: Choose loose, breathable fabrics to wear over your tattoo. Tight clothing can cause friction against the tattoo, leading to increased discomfort and pain.

  5. Avoid sun exposure: Sunlight can be harmful to a healing tattoo. UV rays can fade the ink and cause additional irritation. If you have to go outside, cover the tattoo or use a high-SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen.

  6. Keep the area moisturized: Regular moisturizing can prevent the tattooed area from getting too dry, which can lead to discomfort. However, don't overdo it; excessive moisture can cause infection. Follow your tattoo artist's advice on this.

  7. Avoid soaking in water: Stay away from swimming pools, hot tubs, and long showers for a while. Too much water can soften the scabs and delay healing, increasing the risk of where does tattoo hurt most during the healing process.

  8. Use pain relief if necessary: If you're wondering how much does tattoo hurt during the healing process, and it becomes unbearable, consider taking over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Always consult your healthcare provider before taking any medication.

  9. Stay hydrated and maintain a healthy lifestyle: Good hydration and a balanced diet can help your skin heal faster. Drink plenty of water and eat well to aid in the healing process.

  10. Follow your tattoo artist's instructions: Each tattoo artist has their own set of aftercare guidelines. Make sure to follow these closely to minimize pain and ensure a smooth healing process. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to your artist for advice.

By adhering to these aftercare tips, you can make your tattoo healing process as comfortable as possible while preserving the beauty and integrity of your new ink.

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Comparing Pain Levels: Tattoos vs. Piercings

When comparing the pain levels of tattoos and piercings, it is important to consider the body location where the procedure takes place. While pain tolerance varies among individuals, certain body areas generally tend to be more painful to tattoo or pierce than others.

1. Bony areas: Body parts with less flesh and more bones, such as the ribcage, collarbone, spine, and knuckles, are known to be more painful for tattooing. The lack of cushioning makes the needle's impact more intense and can result in a higher level of discomfort.
2. Sensitive areas: Certain body parts are known for being more sensitive, such as the inner wrist, armpits, behind the ear, and the lower abdomen. Tattooing these areas may cause more pain due to the higher concentration of nerve endings.
3. Thin-skinned areas: Areas with thinner skin, like the inner arm, inner thigh, and the side of the torso, can be more painful to tattoo. The needle's penetration may feel more pronounced, leading to increased discomfort.

1. Cartilage areas: Piercings in cartilage areas like the nose, ear (helix), or septum can be more painful due to the denser tissue and lack of blood vessels. The cartilage itself is less flexible and can cause more discomfort during the piercing process.
2. Tongue and genitals: Piercings in the tongue or genital area, such as the nipple or genital piercings, can be more painful due to the higher concentration of nerve endings in these areas. The sensitivity of these body parts can amplify the pain experienced.
3. Surface piercings: Piercings on flat surfaces of the body, like the nape of the neck or the surface of the wrist, can be more painful compared to areas with more flesh. The lack of cushioning and the direct contact with underlying bones can make the piercing process more uncomfortable.

It is essential to remember that pain perception is subjective, and individual experiences may vary. Factors like personal pain tolerance, state of mind, and the expertise of the tattoo artist or piercer also play a role in the overall pain experienced during these procedures.

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When choosing a numbing cream, select a high-quality brand designed specifically for tattoo pain management. If you decide to use a numbing cream, consider trying Ink Scribd's Tattoo Numbing Cream, which contains 5% lidocaine for effective pain relief during tattoo sessions. Always consult with your artist first and follow safe application directions for the best results. You can have a comfortable, enjoyable inking experience with the right numbing cream and tattoo placement.