Most painful tattoo areas – where to not get a tattoo if you afraid of pain

A complete informational guide to review before the tattoo appointment

Does it hurt to get a tattoo? This question bothers everyone who has decided to get his first tattoo. We will tell you about the most and least painful areas of the body for tattooing, as well as help you physically and mentally to be prepared for tattooing. 

At the outset, we should note that the pain threshold is individual for everyone, and there are no universal pain relievers that work equally well for everyone. At the same time, there are peculiarities to be aware of to make a tattoo hurt less and as comfortable as possible.

What can I do to reduce the pain?

  • Come to your tattoo artist rested (tired body is more susceptible and sensitive to pain, so tattooing is not recommended, evening or after a hard day’s work).
  • You should eat before the session, especially if the process will be long.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • If the tattoo is large and on a painful area of the body, you can use tattoo numbing cream. They are available in almost every tattoo parlor. Ibuprofen or aspirin are not recommended because they affect blood clotting: the blood becomes more fluid, hence it will push the ink out of the skin. In turn, creams for external use are more suitable for the purpose of pain relief of tattooing sensations, and there are even specially designed for tattooing.

What factors influence tattoo pain?

  • Tattoo complexity. Simple single-type tattoos are less painful, as are single-color tattoos, because they take less time.
  • Body part where you get a tattoo. This is what we will talk about in more detail below.

Several factors influence the painfulness of sensations in different parts of the body. Among them are:

  • Amount of subcutaneous fat. For example, the low-fat content of the head and feet makes these areas some of the most painful for tattoos.
  • Nerve endings location. Taking the head as an example again, the ophthalmic section of the trigeminal nerve is the nerve on the head that transmits sensory information from the scalp and forehead to the brain. The location of this nerve makes it a particularly sensitive place for tattoos. Also, the greatest number of nerve endings are in the areas around the nipple, on the curve of the elbow, under the armpit, under the pectoral muscle on the ribs, under the knees, and in the groin area. Whereas a tattoo in the clavicle area is not so painful because there are very few nerve endings in its area.
  • Bone location. If you are going to tattoo on the elbow, be prepared for acute pain because of the close bone location. The biceps are better suited because the bone is deeper, the skin is denser and there are large muscles.
  • Skin density. For example, ankles are covered with a very thin skin layer, which makes it quite difficult for tattoo artists to apply ink there. It is the same with the wrists. The skin in those places is thin and delicate, there is no fat layer and muscles at all, the bone is close and the nerve endings are sensitive. But since tattoos on the wrists are usually small, these feelings can be easily endured.

High pain level

  • Head and face. The face, earlobes, and skull area are especially painful.
  • Neck. Mostly in the front, but the back will also have to endure. There will also be a pain in the area above the clavicles.
  • Chest, torso and back. Tattoos on the nipple aureoles, in the front rib area, and under the shoulder blades will cause trouble.
  • Arms and hands. Armpits, elbows, back elbow bend, and backside wrists.
  • Pelvic area. Intimate tattoos are not enjoyable. And yes, we’re talking about the most sensitive places and the areas closest to them.
  • Legs. The inner side of the thigh, knees, knee bend at the back and front of the shin – there are awful feelings.

Medium pain

  • Chest and torso. Tattooing feelings in the clavicle and chest area are bearable.
  • Back. The shoulder blades and lower back. You can get used to it in a couple of hours.
  • Pelvic area. Tattoos on the buttocks and right below them will hurt, but it’s bearable.
  • Belly. Tattoos on the abdomen cause a little discomfort, but you have to endure. 
  • Hands. Prepare for medium soreness as you ink your hands and fingers. 
  • Legs. The front side of the thighs and the calves. You’ll have to clench your eyes more than once, but it’s possible to cope without an anesthetic.

Minimal pain

  • Face. It is also on the first list, but here we would like to mention cosmetic tattooing, which is often a regular procedure for ladies.
  • Arms. Shoulders and forearms. Breathe out, you’ll be fine!
  • Lumbar area. It will even tickle a little on the sides under the ribs, but that’s not certain.
  • Legs. Once again, the legs get on the list. Tattoos on the side of the thigh and side of the shin are no big deal for many!
  • Mucosa. This refers to tattoos that are done in the mouth on the inside of the lip.

Pain threshold differences in women and men

Women’s fat deposits cover the entire back, a large area of the thighs, lower legs, so tattooing
these areas is usually less painful (primarily the age of 25 years old, younger girls have a
thinner skin structure). However, there are some cases when the female body’s sensitivity
increases: during menstruation and in the week before it. We recommend you postpone your
visit to the tattoo parlor during this period.

Men’s less painful place is the forearm, as well as less discomfort with tattooing on the lower
leg. Note that men have more pain zones. This is because the fat layer is concentrated mainly
on the back of the hand, as well as on the outside of the thigh.


The main factor that affects the feeling of pain is fear. It is very important to prepare yourself positively and avoid worrying about unpleasant thoughts that arise.

Treat the upcoming session as a moment that will bring only pleasant emotions, because the tattoo appearance is just such. As practice shows, a very small percentage of people stop at one tattoo, so the pursuit of happiness is a contagious process.

When choosing a tattoo location you should understand yourself and your pain threshold. Most importantly, don’t stress yourself out during your session; try to relax. You would be unlikely to end the session because you feel a lot of pain. So don’t torture yourself! Listen to your desires, but also to your body, guided by your mind. However, if you really want to get a tattoo on a sore spot, there are lidocaine ointments. They will take away the pain. When choosing a place for a tattoo, be aware of your pain threshold and your tolerance for pain. Good luck with your next tattoos 🙂

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