Tattoo Pain 101: A Beginner's Guide to Less Discomfort

September 08, 2023

Ink Scribd's Numbing Cream

Deciding where on your body to get a new tattoo can be tough. While tattoos allow for creative self-expression, most people want to minimize pain as much as possible. Luckily, there are techniques you can use to reduce discomfort, such as referring to a chart of tattoo pain.

The pain level experienced when getting a tattoo depends on several factors related to your body and individual traits. Areas on the body with more nerve endings, thinner skin, and close to bone tend to be more sensitive and prone to pain. However, pain tolerance varies greatly from person to person. This is where a pain of a tattoo chart can come in handy for gauging what you might experience.

This article will explore how location on the body, skin type, age, gender, and other factors can impact your tattoo pain experience. You'll learn to assess your pain tolerance and find the best placements. We'll also cover proven methods to manage discomfort during sessions effectively.

While getting a tattoo involves pain regardless of placement, being informed about the factors influencing sensitivity can help you have a smooth, comfortable experience. With the guidance in this article, you'll be ready to pick the perfect tattoo spot for your next inked creation.

The key is choosing locations aligned with your pain tolerance, using numbing agents when needed, and communicating concerns with your tattoo artist. With the right prep, you can get an amazing tattoo you'll love for years in a spot that minimizes discomfort. Let's get started!

Ink Scribd's Numbing Cream

Factors that Influence Tattoo Pain

When getting a tattoo, the tattoo pain level can vary greatly depending on the location of your body. Certain areas, known as the most painful tattoo spots, tend to be more sensitive due to having more nerve endings, thinner skin, and proximity to bone. However, individual pain tolerance also plays a major role.

One technique many people use to help manage tattoo pain is applying numbing cream beforehand. Numbing creams contain anesthetic agents that numb the skin's surface. Many wonder - Does numbing cream work on tattoos? The short answer is yes; numbing creams can effectively reduce pain when applied correctly. However, results vary based on the individual and proper application technique.

Here are some of the most common numbing cream FAQs:

  • Do tattoo numbing creams work for everyone? Not necessarily; it depends on pain tolerance and skin type. Do a patch test first.
  • How long before my tattoo should I apply the numbing cream? At least 30 minutes beforehand for optimal effect.
  • What is the best numbing cream for tattoos? Top products contain lidocaine or benzocaine as the active ingredient.
  • Can I leave numbing cream on too long? Stay within the recommended time, or it could lead to skin irritation.

Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions closely when using numbing creams. Check with your artist, as some may prefer not to use topicals.

Now, let's explore how the location of your body impacts expected pain levels during tattooing. Areas like the ribs, elbows, and ankles tend to be most sensitive due to thin skin, little fat/muscle, and many nerve endings. Meanwhile, places like the arms, thighs, and upper back are generally less painful for tattoos.

Ink Scribd's Numbing Cream

Pain Management Techniques

While some discomfort is inevitable, there are ways to minimize pain during the tattoo process. Using numbing creams is one popular option. As discussed, numbing creams can reduce pain when applied correctly before sessions. They work by numbing the skin's surface. Understanding the tattoo pain scale can also help you set realistic expectations for your experience.

Here are some other pain management tips:

  • Communicate with your artist - Let them know if you need breaks or have concerns. They can adjust as needed.
  • Use an experienced artist - Someone familiar with techniques for minimal pain based on the location.
  • Stay hydrated and fed - Drink water and eat before your session to maintain energy.
  • Distract yourself - Listen to music, meditate, or talk to your artist during the tattoo.
  • Apply ice packs - Use wraps or cold compresses to soothe tender areas afterward.
  • Take OTC medication - Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also alleviate residual pain.
  • Consider laser removal - If an existing tattoo is too painful, laser removal may be an option.
  • Refer to a chart of tattoo pain - Knowing which areas are more or less painful can guide your tattoo placement decisions.

When applying numbing cream, be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Test a small area first to check for skin irritation. Ink Scribd's Numbing Cream is a top choice formulated specifically for tattoo pain management.

With the right preparation, communication, and aftercare, you can make getting inked a more comfortable experience. Don't let fear of pain deter you from tattoo artistry!

Ink Scribd's Numbing Cream

Exploring Common Pain Tattoo Spots: What You Need to Know

When it comes to getting a tattoo, one of the first questions that come to mind is, "Where should I get it?" While the design and symbolism behind your tattoo are crucial, the location you choose can significantly impact your pain experience. In this section, we'll explore some of the most common spots people choose for tattoos and what you can expect in terms of pain. We'll also discuss the least painful place to get a tattoo and address the question, how painful is a tattoo?

Arms and Shoulders

The arms, particularly the bicep area, and shoulders are among the least painful spots to get a tattoo. The skin here is relatively thick, and there's a good amount of muscle and fat to cushion the needle's impact. If you're a tattoo newbie, these areas might be a good starting point.

Ribs and Chest

The ribcage and chest are known for being more painful spots for tattoos. The skin is thinner, and the proximity to bones and organs makes the experience more sensitive. If you're considering a tattoo in this area, be prepared for a higher level of discomfort.

Wrists and Ankles

Both the wrists and ankles are bony areas with thin skin, making them more sensitive to the tattoo needle. The pain here is often described as sharp and intense, similar to a burning sensation.

Back and Spine

The upper back is generally less painful due to the muscle mass, but as you move towards the spine and lower back, the pain can increase. The spine is a particularly sensitive area due to the nerve endings and bony structure.

Legs and Thighs

The thighs are another less painful area for tattoos, thanks to their muscle density and thicker skin. The calves can be a bit more sensitive but are generally manageable for most people.

Feet and Hands

These are some of the most painful areas to get tattooed. The skin is thin, and there's not much cushioning over the bones. Additionally, the hands and feet have numerous nerve endings, increasing the pain factor.

Face and Neck

These areas are not for the faint-hearted. The skin is thin, and there are many nerve endings, making the tattooing process quite painful. It's also a more complex area to tattoo, requiring a highly skilled artist.

By understanding the common pain spots for tattoos, you can make a more informed decision and prepare yourself mentally and physically for the experience.

The Tattoo Pain Scale: Measuring Discomfort from 1 to 10

Understanding the level of pain associated with different tattoo pain areas can help you make an informed decision about where to get inked. While pain is subjective and varies from person to person, a tattoo pain scale can offer a general idea of what to expect. In this section, we'll break down the pain levels from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least painful and 10 being the most excruciating. We'll also include a chart of tattoo pain for visual reference.

Level 1-2: Minimal Pain (Upper Arms, Outer Thighs)

These areas are generally considered the least painful spots for tattoos. The sensation is often compared to a light scratch, and most people find the experience quite bearable.

Level 3-4: Mild Pain (Forearms, Calves)

While you'll definitely feel the needle, the pain is usually manageable. It's akin to a hot scratch but is generally tolerable for most people.

Level 5-6: Moderate Pain (Upper Back, Shoulders)

These areas have a moderate level of pain, often described as a burning or stinging sensation. While not unbearable, you'll likely need to take a few breaks during the session.

Level 7-8: High Pain (Ribs, Ankles, Wrists)

The pain starts to get intense at this level. The sensation can be sharp and piercing, especially around the ribs and ankles where the skin is close to the bone. You'll likely need to mentally prepare yourself and possibly use numbing cream.

Level 9: Severe Pain (Spine, Hands, Feet)

These areas are extremely sensitive due to the thin skin and numerous nerve endings. The pain is often described as sharp, intense, and sometimes even unbearable. Only opt for these spots if you have a high pain tolerance.

Level 10: Excruciating Pain (Face, Armpits)

The highest level on the pain scale, these areas are not recommended for those new to tattoos or with a low pain tolerance. The pain is often described as excruciating and may require multiple sessions or the use of strong numbing agents.

Factors That Can Affect Your Pain Level

It's important to note that individual pain tolerance, the skill of the tattoo artist, and even your state of mind can affect how much pain you experience. Some people also find that the pain decreases as the body releases endorphins, nature's painkillers.

By understanding the tattoo pain scale, you can better prepare for your tattooing experience and choose a location that aligns with your comfort level.

chart of tattoo pain

Visualizing Pain: An In-Depth Look at Tattoo Pain Charts

Tattoo pain charts serve as a visual guide to help you understand which parts of the body are more or less sensitive to tattooing. These charts often use color-coding or numbering systems to indicate varying levels of discomfort you might experience when getting inked in different areas. Let's delve into what these charts typically look like and how to interpret them, including the pain of a tattoo chart.

Understanding the Color-Coding System

Many tattoo pain charts use a color-coding system, where each color represents a different level of pain. For example:

  • Green: Low pain
  • Yellow: Moderate pain
  • Orange: High pain
  • Red: Extreme pain

Numbering System: Another Way to Measure Pain

Some charts prefer to use a numbering system, often ranging from 1 to 10, to indicate pain levels. This is similar to the tattoo pain scale we discussed earlier but visualized in a chart format for easier understanding.

Common Features of Tattoo Pain Charts

  • Body Outline: Most charts feature an outline of the human body, sometimes from multiple angles, to show where you might experience more or less pain.
  • Pain Hotspots: These are areas marked in the most intense color or highest number, indicating the highest level of pain. Common hotspots include the ribs, ankles, and spine.
  • Pain Cold Spots: These are areas marked in the least intense color or lowest number, indicating the lowest level of pain. Common cold spots include the upper arm and outer thigh.

How Accurate Are Tattoo Pain Charts?

While these charts provide a general guideline, it's crucial to remember that pain is a subjective experience. Factors like your pain tolerance, the tattoo's complexity, and the artist's technique can all influence your personal experience.

Using Tattoo Pain Charts for Planning

Before your tattoo session, you can consult a pain chart to get an idea of what to expect. This can help you mentally prepare for the experience and even influence your decision on the tattoo's placement.

Tattoo pain charts offer a visual way to anticipate the level of discomfort you might experience during your tattoo session. However, they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Use them as a starting point for understanding potential pain levels, but also listen to your body and consult with professionals for a more personalized approach. With the right preparation, you can make your tattooing experience as comfortable as possible, even in the most painful places to get a tattoo.

Quantifying Tattoo Pain: How Painful Are Tattoos Really?

The question "How painful is a tattoo?" is one that many people ponder before taking the plunge into body art. The answer is not straightforward, as the experience of pain is subjective and varies from person to person. However, there are some general guidelines and factors that can help you understand what to expect.

The Subjectivity of Pain

First and foremost, it's essential to recognize that pain is a subjective experience. What might be a mild discomfort for one person could be excruciating for another. Your personal pain tolerance plays a significant role in how painful you'll find the tattooing process.

The Role of Endorphins

Your body releases endorphins in response to stress and pain, which can actually make you feel better during the tattooing process. Some people even describe a "high" or a sense of euphoria during or after getting a tattoo, thanks to these natural painkillers.

Factors That Affect Pain Levels

  • Tattoo Size and Complexity: Larger, more intricate designs often require longer sessions, which can be more painful.
  • Tattoo Location: As discussed in previous sections, some body parts are more sensitive than others. The least painful place to get a tattoo often includes areas like the upper arm or outer thigh.
  • Artist's Technique: An experienced tattoo artist can make the process less painful through skillful needlework and pacing.
  • Your Physical Condition: Being well-rested, hydrated, and in good health can make you more resilient to pain.

Pain Ratings from Real People

Some websites and forums allow people to share their personal experiences and rate the tattoo pain level they felt during their tattoo sessions. While these ratings are subjective, they can offer a general idea of what you might expect.

Comparing to Common Experiences

To give you a rough idea, many people compare the pain of getting a tattoo to that of a sunburn or being scratched by a cat. It's often described as a continuous stinging or burning sensation.

Preparing for the Pain

Knowing what to expect can help you prepare mentally and physically for your tattoo session. You can practice deep breathing exercises, bring distractions like music or a book, and even consider using numbing creams if you're particularly concerned about the pain.

While it's impossible to quantify tattoo pain precisely, understanding the factors that contribute to discomfort can help you prepare for the experience. Remember, everyone's pain threshold is different, and various elements like tattoo size, location, and your physical condition can all affect how much pain you'll feel. Being well-prepared and informed can make your tattooing experience as comfortable as possible.

chart of tattoo pain

Your First Tattoo: Setting Expectations for Pain

If you're considering getting your first tattoo, you're likely filled with a mix of excitement and apprehension. One of the most common concerns for tattoo newbies is the level of pain involved. While it's difficult to predict exactly how painful your experience will be, setting realistic expectations can help you prepare both mentally and physically for your first tattoo session.

The Fear of the Unknown

The anticipation of pain can often be worse than the actual experience. Not knowing what to expect can heighten anxiety, which in turn can make you more sensitive to pain. Understanding that some level of discomfort is normal can help you manage your expectations and reduce anxiety.

The "First Few Minutes" Phenomenon

Many people report that the first few minutes of the tattooing process are the most uncomfortable. This is because your body is adjusting to the sensation. After a while, you may find that you become more accustomed to the feeling, and the pain becomes more manageable.

The Importance of Mindset

Your mental state can significantly impact your perception of pain. Going into the session with a positive mindset and focusing on the excitement and the end result can help make the experience more bearable. Some people find it helpful to bring a friend for moral support or to distract themselves with music or a movie.

Pain Management Options

If you're particularly concerned about the pain, discuss this with your tattoo artist. They can offer advice on pain management options, such as numbing creams or taking short breaks during the session. Remember, it's okay to ask for a break if you need it.

Aftercare and Ongoing Discomfort

Once the tattoo is done, you'll need to focus on aftercare to minimize discomfort and promote healing. Proper aftercare can reduce ongoing pain and prevent complications like infection. Your tattoo artist will provide you with specific aftercare instructions, which may include applying ointment and avoiding certain activities.

What's Normal and What's Not

It's normal to experience some redness, swelling, and a stinging sensation after getting a tattoo. However, if you notice signs of infection, such as excessive redness, heat, or pus, consult a healthcare provider immediately.

The Top 5 Most Painful Spots to Get a Tattoo

When it comes to getting a tattoo, the location you choose can significantly impact the level of pain you'll experience. While pain tolerance varies from person to person, some areas are universally acknowledged as being more painful than others. Here are the top 5 most painful spots to get a tattoo, based on factors like skin thickness, nerve density, and proximity to bone.

1. Ribcage

The ribcage is notorious for being one of the tattoo pain areas that are most painful. The skin here is thin, and the ribs provide little cushioning between the needle and the bone, making the tattooing process especially uncomfortable. Additionally, the ribcage expands and contracts as you breathe, which can exacerbate the sensation.

2. Feet and Ankles

The feet and ankles are another challenging area due to the lack of muscle and fat, as well as the high concentration of nerve endings. The skin is also quite thin, making the tattoo needle feel even more intense. If you're considering a tattoo in this area, be prepared for a higher level of discomfort.

3. Hands and Fingers

The hands and fingers are filled with nerve endings, making tattoos here particularly painful. The skin is also thinner, and there's less muscle to cushion the needle. Moreover, the bones in the hands and fingers are close to the surface, adding to the discomfort.

4. Spine

The spine is a sensitive area to get tattooed for obvious reasons: it's your backbone. The skin around the spine is thin, and there's not much muscle or fat to cushion the needle. Each time the needle hits close to a vertebra, you're likely to feel it more intensely.

5. Inner Wrist and Elbow Crease

By understanding these most painful places to get a tattoo, you can better prepare yourself for the experience. If you're new to tattoos or have a low pain tolerance, you might want to consult a tattoo pain level chart to help you decide on a less painful location. Keep in mind that everyone's experience is different, and what might be excruciating for one person could be bearable for another.

The Comfort Zones: Least Painful Spots for Your Next Tattoo

If the thought of getting a tattoo in one of the most painful spots is too daunting, don't worry. There are plenty of areas on the body where getting inked is generally less painful. These "comfort zones" offer a more bearable experience, especially for those new to the world of tattoos. Here are some of the least painful spots to consider for your next tattoo.

1. Outer Arm and Bicep

The outer arm, particularly the bicep area, is often cited as one of the least painful places to get a tattoo. The skin is thicker, and there's a good amount of muscle to cushion the needle, making the tattooing process less intense.

2. Thighs

The thighs offer a generous amount of flesh, making them a less painful option for tattoos. The skin is also relatively thick, and the muscle density provides a good cushion for the needle. Many people find getting a tattoo on the thigh to be a more comfortable experience.

3. Calves

Similar to the thighs, the calves have a good amount of muscle and thicker skin, which can make for a less painful tattooing experience. The area is also far from any major nerve centers, reducing the sensation of pain.

4. Upper Back and Shoulders

The upper back and shoulders are other areas where people generally experience less pain when getting tattooed. The skin is thicker, and there's a good amount of muscle to absorb some of the needle's impact.

5. Forearm

The forearm is another popular choice for a less painful tattoo experience. While it's not as cushioned as the thigh or upper arm, the skin is relatively thick, and the pain is generally considered to be moderate compared to more sensitive areas.

chart of tattoo pain

Choosing Your Tattoo Placement

Now that you know the major factors that impact tattoo pain and techniques to minimize discomfort, it's time to choose the right spot for your next piece of inked artwork.

When selecting a location, consider your personal pain tolerance. If you have a lower threshold, opt for fleshier areas with thicker skin and fewer nerve endings, like the upper arms, thighs, or shoulders.

Avoid bony zones like ankles, wrists, ribs, and spine if you know you can't handle much pain. Areas on the feet and hands are also very sensitive.

Discuss options with your artist. They can suggest less painful spots based on the tattoo design and your concerns. Be bold, ask questions, and voice your pain preferences.

Apply numbing cream beforehand, especially if getting a tattoo in a more sensitive area. Be sure to follow product instructions carefully. Ink Scribd's Numbing Cream is specially formulated to numb skin for tattoo pain management.

With the right planning and pain relief methods, you can comfortably get an amazing tattoo anywhere on your body. Don't let fear hold you back from the perfect inked creation.


Getting a tattoo involves some pain, but being informed about the factors contributing to discomfort can help you have a smooth experience. When picking a tattoo spot, the most critical considerations are location on the body, your pain tolerance, and using numbing creams or sprays as needed.

Areas with many nerve endings, thin skin, and proximity to bone tend to be more painful for tattoos. However, results vary greatly from person to person based on differences in sensitivity and previous tattoo experience. Applying an effective numbing cream like Ink Scribd's can significantly minimize discomfort.

It's normal to feel pain during tattooing, especially for larger or more detailed designs. But don't let fear hold you back from getting your desired tattoo. With the right planning and communication with your artist, you can make the process as comfortable as possible.

The takeaways:

  • Assess your pain tolerance.
  • Choose wisely based on body location.
  • Use numbing cream when needed.
  • Work with an experienced artist.

With these tips, you'll be ready to start your next inked creation in a spot tailored to your comfort! Consulting a chart of tattoo pain can also be a helpful guide in making your decision.