Most Painful Places to Get a Tattoo

Most Painful Places to Get a Tattoo

Receiving a tattoo can be an incredibly exciting experience. After all, it is a form of art that will last a lifetime. But in order to make sure you get the best results possible, it’s important to know about the most painful places for tattooing. Pain thresholds differ from person to person and some areas of the body can be more sensitive than others. In this article, we’ll explain the areas of the body that are most likely to cause pain when getting a tattoo and provide helpful tips on how to reduce discomfort during the session.

What Makes A Tattoo Painful?

There are several factors that can contribute to the pain of getting a tattoo. The deeper the needle penetrates, the more intense the sensation will be. Therefore, areas with thicker skin and less fat tend to experience more pain than those with thinner skin or higher levels of fatty tissue. Additionally, tattoos on bony surfaces such as ribs, collarbones, ankles, and wrists can be especially uncomfortable.

Your body’s own unique pain threshold will also play a role in how much you feel when getting a tattoo. Everyone experiences pain differently and some people might find certain areas of the body more painful than others. Finally, the size of the tattoo will determine how long it takes to complete and how much pain you’ll feel. [2]


Getting a tattoo on the armpit is painful, but not as much as you might think. Many people who have tattoos on their armpits describe the pain level as being more of an annoyance than anything else. It’s uncomfortable and may sting a bit, but if you can handle it mentally, you should be able to get through it. [1]

What Makes A Tattoo Painful?

Rib Cage And Stomach

The rib cage and stomach area are two of the most sensitive places to get a tattoo. This is because these areas have very little fat or muscle, allowing for the needle to go deeper into the skin. It’s also important to note that there are many blood vessels in this region which can make it especially painful when the needle penetrates them. [1]


When considering the most painful places to get a tattoo, the collarbone is often overlooked. This area is notorious for being one of the more uncomfortable spots for a tattoo due to its proximity to the neck and its prominence when you move your arm. In addition, this area can become quite tender as muscles in this region are frequently used. The pain of a tattoo in this area is often described as a sharp and searing sensation that can quickly become dull but still persistent. [2]


One of the most painful places to get a tattoo is on your elbows and knees. This is because the skin near these joints is very thin, making it incredibly sensitive. The bony surface also means that there is less cushioning or padding between the needle and your skin. As a result, each puncture feels more intense and causes more discomfort than it would on a thicker, fleshier area of your body. [2]


Knees, especially the sides of your kneecaps, are often considered to be one of the most painful places to get a tattoo. The skin is sensitive and the area can be very tender when the artist starts tattooing. Most experienced artists will recommend that you don’t go for large tattoos in this area if possible. If you’re looking for a more realistic tattoo, this may not be the best location. Additionally, the knees are subject to wear and tear which can make it difficult to keep your tattoo looking great over time. If you do decide to get a knee tattoo, make sure you talk with your artist about what kind of design is best for that area. [2]


Shins have thin skin and are one of the least popular places to get a tattoo. This is because they hurt A LOT! The constant movement of your legs when walking can make it difficult for the artist to keep their needle steady, making it more painful than usual. It’s also harder for them to properly shade the tattoo due to its thinness and constant movement. [2]

Ankles And Feet

Getting a tattoo on your ankles and feet is not recommended for those who don’t have a high pain tolerance. This area of the body has very little fat, so any puncturing that happens will feel much more intense than it would on other parts of the body with more cushioning. The skin in these areas is also quite thin and takes longer to heal, meaning more time with the pain. [1]

Ankles And Feet

Middle Of Chest

Tattoos on the chest can be especially painful because of the numerous nerve endings and muscles in that area. It is similar to getting a tattoo on your ribs, which is also known to be quite painful. The sensation tends to be more burning than sharp, so it’s important to stay relaxed during the process. To make it less painful, it’s recommended to get a smaller design and use thinner lines instead of dark outlines. As with any tattoo, it is important to choose a reputable tattoo artist who has experience inking that area. Finally, make sure to keep the area clean and moisturized afterward to aid in healing. [1]


The facial area tends to be one of the most painful places to get a tattoo, due to its close proximity to nerves and bone. Areas such as the lips, eyes, nose, brows, chin, temples, and cheeks can all cause a lot of discomfort during the tattoo process. It is often recommended that you start with smaller tattoos in these areas, as they can be more difficult to tolerate. Additionally, make sure that your artist is well-experienced in working on the face, as this will ensure a better result and less pain overall. [2]

Inner Thighs

Getting a tattoo on your inner thighs can be quite painful, as the skin is thin and very sensitive. It’s important to take extra care when having this area tattooed, as it’s easy for the needle to go too deep and cause bruising or bleeding. The best way to lessen the pain is by using a topical numbing cream before the tattoo session. This will reduce the level of discomfort and make it easier for your artist to work. Additionally, if you’re worried about pain, be sure to tell your artist so they can adjust the intensity of their needle accordingly. [2]


The groin area is a more sensitive spot for people to get tattooed, but it’s not necessarily the most painful. It can definitely be uncomfortable and tender on the skin, but the pain isn’t intolerable. Your experience may vary depending on your individual pain tolerance. [1]


Hand tattoos are a popular choice, especially among younger people. Hand tattoos can be tricky to execute because the skin on your hands is much thinner than other areas of the body. This means that the pain involved in getting a hand tattoo is usually higher than in other places. Additionally, because hands are used for so many activities throughout our daily lives, it’s likely that your tattoo will fade and stretch faster than on other body parts. [1]

Factors that Affect Tattoo Pain


Getting a tattoo on your buttocks can be quite painful. The skin is thin and delicate here, so the sensation of the needle will likely be more intense. You may experience some burning or sting in this area, as well as increased soreness afterward. It’s important to find an experienced artist who knows how to work in this delicate zone. [2]

Factors that Affect Tattoo Pain


Studies have shown that men tend to feel more pain than women when getting a tattoo. This could be because of cultural expectations, as women are often socialized to tolerate more pain than men. [1]


The location of the tattoo can have a huge impact on how much pain you feel. Generally, areas with a thicker layer of skin are more painful than areas with thinner layers.

Some of the most sensitive spots for tattooing include:

  • The rib cage;
  • The sternum;
  • Inner elbows and wrists [4];

Skin Sensitivity

When deciding where to get a tattoo, you should consider how sensitive your skin is. Different areas of the body are more prone to pain than others. The most painful places to get a tattoo to include the inner arm and wrist, the elbow, the rib cage, the ankles and feet, the back of the neck, and behind the ears. [4]


The experience of the artist can also have an effect on how painful your tattoo is. Ideally, you should look for an experienced artist who knows how to work with sensitive areas and use techniques to minimize discomfort. [1]

Age and Weight

The older you are, the more sensitive your skin will be when getting a tattoo – so it’s important to keep this in mind. Also, if you are overweight, the extra layers of fat can make some areas of your body more painful than others. [1]

Psychological Expectations

Finally, it’s important to remember that pain is subjective. Your psychological expectations can play a role in how much discomfort you feel when getting a tattoo. If you’re nervous or fearful about the process, you might find yourself experiencing more pain than anticipated. [3]

Psychological Expectations

What It Feels Like Getting a Tattoo

Burning Pain

Getting a tattoo can feel like a burning pain, depending on where you get it and how deep it goes. Tattoo needles are inserted into the skin quickly, so they can cause different sensations in each place. Generally, areas with more fatty tissue will be less painful than those closer to bone or muscle. If the needle hits a nerve, it can cause sharp and intense pain. [1]

Dull or Background Pain

The area around where the tattoo is being done can feel dull or background pain. Some people describe it as a feeling of constant pressure or an itch that won’t go away. Areas with fewer nerve endings and more fatty tissue, such as the upper arm or thigh, will usually cause less pain than areas closer to bones or cartilage. [1]

Scratching Pain

Some people feel a scratching or dragging sensation as the tattoo needle moves across their skin. This can occur when the pigment is injected too deeply into the skin, and it tends to be more common in areas with thinner layers of fat and muscle such as wrists, ankles, and rib cages. [1]

Sharp or Stinging Pain

Sharp or stinging pain is usually more intense than burning pain, and it may feel like a stab. This can occur when the needle hits a nerve or is inserted too deeply into the skin. Areas with less fatty tissue are more prone to this type of discomfort, such as wrists, neck, hands, and feet.[1]

What It Feels Like Getting a Tattoo

Vibrating Pain

Some people describe a vibrating or buzzing sensation when getting a tattoo. This is usually caused by the needle moving too quickly through the skin, and it can become more intense in areas with thinner layers of fat and muscle such as the foot, ankle, ribs, and wrist. [1]

How to Minimize Pain?

Although tattoo pain is unavoidable, there are certain measures you can take to minimize the discomfort. Here are some useful tips:

  1. Take breaks while getting a tattoo if it’s too painful – this will give your skin time to rest and reduce the sensation of continuous pain.
  2. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after getting a tattoo to keep your skin hydrated;
  3. Use numbing creams or gels 30–45 minutes before the procedure to reduce sensitivity in the area being tattooed;
  4. Make sure you use a reputable artist who is experienced in tattooing – an expert will know how to manage pain levels and work quickly and efficiently;
  5. Ask your artist to use a machine with a lower speed setting – this will reduce the intensity of the pain when the needle is repeatedly inserted into your skin;
  6. Request shorter needles, as they cause less trauma to the skin and thus less pain;
  7. Relax, breathe deeply, and try to keep your body as still as possible – this will help you manage the pain more effectively [1];

Things to Consider After Getting A Tattoo:

Stay Hydrated

Before you start your tattoo, make sure to drink plenty of water. This will help keep your skin hydrated, which can reduce pain and discomfort. It’s also important to stay hydrated during the process, so don’t forget to bring a water bottle with you! [4]

Eat Well

You may also want to consider eating a healthy meal before your appointment. Eating a good meal can help keep your energy levels up and make you more comfortable during the tattooing process. Eating foods high in protein will also help your body heal faster after the tattoo is complete. [4]

Plan Ahead With Your Tattoo Artist

Make sure to have a conversation with your tattoo artist before you start. Talk to them about the type of design you’d like, and ask if they can recommend any areas that may be less painful than others. It’s important to plan ahead so that your tattoo experience is as comfortable as possible. [4]

Wear Comfy Clothes

Be sure to wear comfortable clothes to your appointment. Tight-fitting clothing can increase the feeling of discomfort, so choose loose-fitting items that are breathable and won’t restrict your movement during the process. It might also be helpful to bring a pair of headphones or earplugs if you need to block out some of the noise. [4]

Avoid Alcohol AndBlood-Thinning Medication

It’s best to avoid consuming alcohol or taking any blood-thinning medications before your appointment. These can increase your risk of excessive bleeding and can also make the tattooing process more painful. Speak with your doctor before scheduling a tattoo if you are taking any kind of prescription medication. [4]

Choose Your Tattoo Artist Wisely

Be sure to research your tattoo artist before scheduling an appointment. Read reviews, look at their portfolio of work, and make sure they are experienced with the kinds of tattoos you’re looking for. A high-quality artist can help ensure a safe and comfortable experience. [4]

Things to Consider After Getting A Tattoo:

Do Not Get A Tattoo While Sick

If you’re feeling under the weather, it’s best to postpone your appointment until you are feeling better. Your body needs all its resources to fight off any illnesses or infections, so getting a tattoo while sick could make the process more painful and increase your risk of complications. [4]

Be Mindful Of The Timing

Some areas of the body are more sensitive than others, so you may want to consider the timing of your tattoo appointment. Avoid getting a tattoo during times when your skin is extra sensitive, such as right after a shower or during your menstrual cycle. [4]


Is tattoo pain bearable?

Absolutely! Tattoo pain is not unbearable. It’s more of a discomfort than an actual intense pain. Knowing the most painful places to get a tattoo can help you prepare for what’s to come and make sure you have a successful experience.

What can I take before a tattoo to ease the pain?

There are many things you can take before a tattoo to ease the pain, including over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Make sure to discuss any medications you plan on taking with your artist beforehand. Additionally, some people find that applying a numbing cream or drinking alcohol before their session helps reduce the pain.

Do tattoos feel like shots?

No, tattoos do not feel like shots. While the sensation may be similar in some areas, it is much more like a scratch or burning than a shot. However, this can vary depending on where you are getting the tattoo and how deep the needle penetrates your skin.

Do tattoos hurt less if you’re fat?

No, body fat does not affect the amount of pain felt when getting a tattoo. The depth of the needle and the area of skin you are getting tattooed may impact how much it hurts, but ultimately everyone experiences pain differently.

How deep do tattoo needles go?

Tattoo needles typically penetrate the skin to a depth of 1 to 2 millimeters. This varies depending on the type of tattoo and the placement, though it is usually less than 3 millimeters deep. The depth of the needle should always be discussed with your artist before they begin the process.

Can a tattoo needle hit a vein?

Yes, a tattoo needle can hit a vein. However, it is unlikely to occur if your artist is experienced and follows proper safety protocols. Your artist should check the area for veins before beginning the tattoo and avoid going too deep into the skin. Additionally, they should wear gloves and use pre-sterilized needles to minimize any risk of infection.

Do you bleed during tattoos?

Yes, it is normal to bleed during a tattoo. The amount of blood will depend on the size and placement of the tattoo, but most people experience at least light bleeding. This is nothing to worry about as long as your artist takes proper precautions to ensure that their needle and equipment are sterilized.

Can you cut a tattoo off?

No, it is not possible to cut a tattoo off. Tattoos are permanent and can only be removed through laser treatments or surgery. If you are considering getting a tattoo removed, make sure to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of the various options available before making a decision.

Useful Video: Comparison: Most Painful Places to Get A Tattoo


The most painful places to get a tattoo can vary depending on the individual and their tolerance levels. But, generally speaking, areas with more nerve endings, such as hands, feet, and ribs tend to be more painful. Also, tattoos that require lots of shading or coloring can be particularly difficult if they are in an area where there are a lot of nerve endings.

Before getting a tattoo, it is important to consider the risks and think about how much pain you can tolerate. Doing some research on where the most painful places are can help make sure that you are in for an enjoyable experience rather than a harrowing one. With the right aftercare and attention, any tattoo can look great and you can be proud of your artwork for many years to come.

We hope this article has been useful in helping you understand which areas are the most painful places to get a tattoo and what tips you should consider when planning yours. Remember, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it! Good luck!