What is a Tattoo Pain Chart?

Source: https://www.wildtattooart.com/tattoo-pain-chart

Everyone has an idea that getting inked can be painful. But how painful? Before getting a tattoo, it’s essential to understand the science behind the process. Based on statistics, American people spend more than $1.6 billion every year on tattoos. That may seem like surprising data knowing that a lot of people, overall, do not enjoy going through pain but are amenable to bear the pain caused by the tattoo needle. 

Indeed, tattoos are painful, regardless of which part of the body you will put it on. Nonetheless, some body parts are more delicate than others. Hence, we need some guide to know which areas in our bodies hurt most – this is where a tattoo pain chart becomes useful. 

If you have been planning to get inked but are concerned about the corresponding pain, then you should learn to relax yourself and get rid of the fear. The tattoo pain chart can illustrate precisely how much displeasure you will encounter depending on which body part you will get your tattoo printed.

Quick Navigation

What Tattoo Pain Feels Like
How Much Will it Hurt?
Sensitive Nerves through the Body
Factors That Affect Pain
Most Painful Parts of the Body

Least Painful Parts of the Body
Handling Tattoo Pain
How to Minimize Pain
Preparations for Less Painful Tattoo Session

What Tattoo Pain Feels Like

The way you encounter the pain, as well as the tattoo placement, can largely affect how the tattoo pain feels like. There is no scientific evidence yet to it. However, some kinds of pain are common in the tattoo community. 

There are some common sensations experienced when having a tattoo. Being acquainted with these feelings before scheduling the tattoo can provide you the idea of what kind of a pain to expect and how to determine if the pain is not normal. 

Getting inked will normally hurt. One receives multiple micro-wounds on a particular part of the body. 

However, there are various perceptions of pain. Just imagine the distinction between the feeling of getting a cut and a bruise. Depending on the spot of the tattoo and the pain tolerance of the person involved, people may experience a different feeling when getting a tattoo. Commonly, tattoo pain is the hardest during the first minutes, after which, the body is expected to begin its adjustment. 

How Much Will it Hurt?

If the tattoo is specifically detailed or big, the pain may turn extreme again approaching the end, when stress- and pain-diminishing hormones known as endorphins may start to die out.

Some individuals illustrate the pain similar to a piercing sensation while others explain that it feels like being scraped or bee stings. A tiny needle is used to pierce the skin. Hence, one can anticipate at least a bit of piercing sensation. While the needle gets nearer to the bone, one may feel a harrowing vibration.

Sensitive Nerves through the Body

Some parts of the body have bunches of nerve endings. These are sensitive nerves through the body. Furthermore, the bonier parts are likely to be impacted more by the tattoo needle. The solar plexus, nipples, throat, hands, face, and genitals are categorized as parts with a bunch of nerves.

Factors That Affect Pain

Tattoo artists are using needles to get the ink injected into the skin’s dermis layer. This tattooing method is permanent, although some medical procedures like laser treatment can be done to remove the ink from the skin. 

The application of tattoo ink into the dermis layer ravages the skin and triggers the formation of blood clots that develops bruising. The person must be cautious of that particular body part once the tattoo is done to inhibit the occurrence of infections. 

After attaching a tattoo to the skin, the ravaged skin inflates. It is just the natural mechanism of the body for shielding the skin from more damages and assisting it with the healing. Nevertheless, the swelling of the skin may make the affected body part more tender or painful.

Other methods of tattooing, such as decal temporary tattoos and henna tattoos, do not hurt. They are not permanent tattoos.

Several factors affect pain in tattooing and these include the following:

Type of tattoo

A lot of people say that outlining is the most agonizing process of tattooing. Hence, a tattoo with a bigger outline is likely to hurt more compared to a smaller tattoo made on the same body part.

Furthermore, for color tattoos, artists may need to go over one spot with the needle a few times.

Sex of the person

The study goes both directions on how sex influences the tattoo pain. One study pointed out that women report higher pain after intrusive procedures compared to men. However, another study performed particularly on chronic pain determined women to be more tolerable to pain compared to men.

Skin sensitivity

Certain people have more sensitive skin. These individuals are likely to feel more pain from tattooing.


There is a chance that you get a higher tolerance to pain if you have already experienced tattooing before, making every ensuing tattoo hurt lesser. You can be more adapted to the pain, too.

The technique of the artist

A professional and skilled artist knows when to be slow and when to pause.

Anxiety or stress

A research was done among men determined that anxiety and stress, which one can feel while having a tattoo, can reduce the ability of the body to regulate the level of pain felt. It may make the tattoo feel more painful than it would if one is less stressed.

Take deep breaths while undergoing the procedure. Request the artist to pause if you find the pain shattering.

Body part where the tattoo is placed

Some parts of the body are more painful for a tattoo compared to other body parts. So if you want to experience lesser pain, choose a spot that hurts the least.

Shape, size, and design of the tattoo

Some individuals say that sketched work hurts more compared to the shading of color. Some think that coloring and shading work is more painful. It relies on the tolerance of the person to pain.

Some experts explain that men and women go through different pain experiences. Particular researches on pain obtained from tattooing are missing. However, growing evidence backs up the concept that women have higher pain sensitivity compared to men.

The biological interpretation for this distinction is yet not clear.

Source: https://www.wildtattooart.com

Most Painful Parts of the Body

Any part of the body that is near to the bone or has plenty of nerve endings is likely to be a painful spot to get tattooed. Here are some of the most painful parts of the body when getting a tattoo:

Back of Knees

The back of the knees is a painful area to get tattoos because it has a very supple and not tight skin. If you choose to get tattooed somewhere with loose skin, there is a good chance that the level of sensitivity felt is higher compared to getting tattooed over a tight skin. It is because there are plenty of nerve endings at the back of the knees, which can be keyed on by the tattoo needle and trigger grievous pain.


The ribs are surrounded with a very thin skin, hence, putting on a tattoo in the ribs can cause a lot of pain, particularly if you do not have plenty of upper abdominal fat or if the ribs are prominent. Also, the rib cage moves as you breathe which may lead the sensation more intensified due to the constant movement.


The stomach can be a painful part to get tattooed because its skin is very malleable and it easily stretches. Although it will also be fair to consider that each person has a unique shape of the body. Hence, a person who forms a flat stomach is less likely to go through pain as compared to those with greater body weight percentage.

If you fix your mind into getting a tattoo in your stomach, it would be helpful to know that you should not eat beforehand.


Hip tattoos are popular among women. Getting tattooed along the hip bone line may look appealing. Nevertheless, it is also the best manner to demonstrate your distinctiveness while keeping your job.

Since the hip bones are very near to the skin, this part can be a painful spot for a tattoo. Nonetheless, if you are aware that it is going to cause you pain but still want to get a hip tattoo, then you may see it comforting to know that the body can produce adrenaline during the process. The production of adrenaline will help you regulate the pain.


Getting a tattoo in the face, head, or ears is barely a brilliant idea since they can be hard to conceal. However, if you still want to get a tattoo on these parts, including methods like permanent makeup or micro-blading, you should be aware that these are specifically unpleasant spots to get tattoos.

There are plenty of nerve endings in the face which can be irritated during a tattoo. Also, the bones in the face are very near to the skin without plenty of fat to serve as cushions.

Likewise, the ears are also painful parts of the body for a tattoo.


Getting a tattoo in the neck is painful since there are some big nerves located at the back and sides of it which may be provoked because of the movement of the tattoo needle. One may even experience pain while radiating from the neck into the back since the cervical nerve is found in the neck. 

Neck tattoos are not advised to people with a low tolerance for pain.


The lips are also painful parts for a tattoo. Lip tattoos are also barely suggested except if you are getting permanent makeup. Because of the idea that the lips have very thin and loose skin and there are plenty of nerve endings, the pain felt while getting a tattoo here is likely uncompromising and harsh. Moreover, you may bleed more compared to other body parts. It may also happen that you will look like being stroked in the mouth afterward since it may swell and bruise.

Near the Spine

Spinal tattoos are famous and they are attractive. However, the spine is one of the most painful parts of a tattoo. There are plenty of nerves that traces up and down the spine, while its bones are very near to the skin. Hence, getting a tattoo near the spine may feel like the artist is using a hammer to the bones.


Fingers and toes are common places for tattoos. However, they are also painful spots. There are plenty of nerves in the hands and feet that can be upset, triggering hurtful spasms. Also, the skin is manifestly thin on the extremes. 

Another concern to weigh is that it is especially difficult for an artist to achieve a clean, accurate tattoo on parts that are curved and so small like the fingers and toes.

There is also an explanation of why driving nails into the palm has been a prominent kind of torture. The palm is composed of soft skin that has plenty of nerves. If you have unexpectedly pricked the palm with a needle you are aware that the pain is fierce and quick.

Top of Foot

The top of the foot are recognized for being extremely dainty, and it is very challenging to acquire a great image in that part. There are many bunches of nerves on the top of the foot that may cause blasting pain while you are getting it done.

Moreover, the skin is particularly lean on this part that may make it even more painful. If you decide to get a foot tattoo, be ready to have it touched up frequently. The artist may have to tattoo the design a few times to make the image look great in that area.


The bones are very near to the skin of the kneecap or elbow. The vibrations made by tattooing through the bone that is just underneath the skin surface incite stinging pain.



Unless you believe that you have a very high tolerance for pain, you should not consider doing an armpit tattoo. A lot of people have said that it is the most painful part of a tattoo. This claim can either be true or not. However, there are plenty of glands and nerve endings in the armpit. Also, it has very delicate skin resulting in more discomfort.

Inner Bicep

The muscle that is in the inner bicep serves to reduce the pain caused by tattooing. On the other hand, its skin is not firm and very soft. A tattoo like this may also take a while to heal compared to the tattoos of the other parts.


The bones in the shin are found just underneath the thin skin layer.


A tattoo in the ankle is very painful. The ankle bone is precisely below a thin skin layer and if you do an ankle tattoo, the pain that you will feel can be as bad as having the ribcage tattooed.

Groin Area

The groin area is occupied with many nerve endings that can be provoked while in a tattoo session. Just remember that it will cause pain more that you believe it will.

Least Painful Parts of the Body

Overall, the parts of the body that have lesser nerve endings, thicker skin, and fatter are the least painful parts for a tattoo compared to parts that have thin skin and minimal fat to serve as a cushion. It is the reason why that area that you select for your tattoo is very significant.


The most common part of the body for tattoos, particularly for the first tattoos, is the shoulder area. The shoulders have fewer nerve endings and the skin here is thick. Hence, the abrading of the needle will not hurt that much.

Upper/Outer Thigh

One of the best parts to get a tattoo is on the upper outer thigh. This part of the body has an ideal fat layer with very minimal nerve endings. Getting a tattoo on this part has other benefits, too. 

For instance, it is very easy to conceal tattoos in the thigh. Hence, it is an ideal part for individuals who have to hide their tattoos for work purposes. Also, it is a relatively huge portion of the body, which is great if the design of the tattoo is of a hefty size, and you do not like to jeopardize your work of art because of the issue of pain.

Upper and Lower Back

The back is one of the biggest body parts, so people prefer to have permanently tattooed there because it provides them a lavish-sized art to work with.

When considering pain, the quantity you feel while you get a tattoo may differ depending on how near the artist gets to the hips and spine. It is because there are plenty of nerve endings found beneath the skin in these parts, leading to a higher level of pain.

Next, the pain sensed may vary greatly based on size and shape. For instance, a person with a curvier body is more likely to get greater fat in the lower back compared to people with a slimmer structure.

Hence, if you are thinner, you may anticipate sensing more pain since the needle will carry out with less resistance as it does the movement in the skin and nearer to the bone.


The forearm is a better area for a first tattoo since it has plenty of muscle and massive skin, but not plenty of nerve endings – implying that it is comparably pain-free. It makes an ideal part for average-sized tattoos with specific designs because it will not be as hurtful when the artist has to insert plenty of little details.

Forearm tattoos can also make a good starter for a conversation with similar-minded people because of their high visibility.

Outer Bicep

The outer bicep has plenty of muscle that leads to a far less hurtful experience. If you like tattoos that can be easily shown off to people, this part will be best because it is highly visible.


Calf tattoos are best for first-timers. The calf has little chunks of nerve endings beneath the skin and plenty of muscle and fats. It implies that getting a tattoo on this part is more doable as compared to being tattooed in the ankle, for instance.

The calf has a huge smooth surface. Hence, it is an ideal spot to get bigger tattoos added or tattoos that have plenty of specifications. Consider the idea that you will not feel a lot of pain here if the artist has to take a pause and begin to gather the detail accurately, or goes over the skin a few times

Handling Tattoo Pain

If you want to get a tattoo, you would probably have thought about the pain attached to the method – perhaps more particularly, how you can handle the tattoo pain? 

There are plenty of ways to handle tattoo pain. Everything from conducting a little study in advance to getting yourself a good numbing cream can make an effective way to make your experience less painful. Usually, it is the little things that will assist you through the process.

1. Plan the Placement of your Tattoo

Some areas are more painful than others. If you are finding a way to lower the pain, then you should consider avoiding the most painful areas for tattoo placement.

2. Discuss it Out

If you feel stress thinking about the pain, it may be ideal to do a bit of asking to prepare yourself mentally. Tattoos are painful. However, talking to tattoo artists or friends who got their tattoos done about the corresponding pain may help to make yourself calm down before the session. Getting a conversation with your artist can help.

3. Think About the Type of Tattoo

Similarly, a tattoo with plenty of various colors or big and solid areas often consumes a longer time to finish. If you are anxious about the procedure, you may opt to go with mono-shaded line art.

4. Think About the Size

If you are a first-timer, you may not like to plunge in with full-on tattoo sleeves. Instead, you may opt to begin with a size on the plainer side.

5. Mind over Matter

Some people use good music, breathing technique, and meditation to divert their minds from focusing on the pain. Heck, you can even talk to your artist to create a good distraction.

6. Do not drink

You may think that getting drunk can help you with your pain tolerance, but that is not a good idea. Alcohol thins the blood that may lead to more bleeding.

7. Take a Painkiller

Take a credible painkiller before and during the procedure. However, you should be mindful of some painkillers that can thin the blood and trigger more bleeding than usual.

8. Obey the Instructions Given by the Tattoo Artist

Obey a good aftercare program to guarantee fast healing, and most essentially, listen to your artist. He or she is an expert in the field and understands what they are talking about.

How to Minimize Pain

You need to calm yourself if you are still anxious about getting a tattoo. After the artist starts the tattoo, the body will typically attempt to cut down the pain that you are sensing. The brain will begin releasing endorphins, which is a similar thing that make you feel terrific after doing an exercise. While the endorphins overwhelm the body, you will sense lesser pain.

Contrarily, if you are having a big tattoo or sitting a few hours in the tattoo chair, the brain will somehow stop releasing endorphins. Hence, it may be ideal to consider getting a smaller tattoo, if the idea of pain is bothering you.

Whether you will choose to get a smaller tattoo or take the courage to get a bigger one, there are some tips that you can try to help you minimize the pain of a tattoo:

Sleep Enough

If you do not get enough sleep, the body becomes very delicate to external stimuli. Getting into a tattoo session if you are restless can make the tattoo seem very painful. You will have a more difficult time staying still for the tattoo. Although it is always provocative to acquire a new tattoo, you must make sure that you have sufficient sleep before your tattoo session. 

Eat a Healthy Meal

Similar to being exhausted, being hungry will make you feel more pain. You must not eat immediately before the session. However, make sure that you get a full meal 2 to 3 hours before the tattooing starts. Also, it will help if you make sure that you get a meal with some carbs. Carbs are essential since they produce energy slower than other groups of food. The slower the production of energy, the more steady and viable energy level the body gets.

Be Hydrated

The more hydrated you will be, the healthier the skin can be. And with healthier skin, the better the ink can be taken. Tattoo artists recommend that you begin consuming water at least 24 hours ahead of the tattoo session and regularly drink water right up until the session starts. It can also lead to a less painful experience.

Be Sober

Certain people would opt to have a brisk drink before getting a tattoo because they believe that alcohol will help them feel numb and make them feel less hurt. The reality can be fairly contradictory. Drinking alcohol before a tattoo session is not a good idea and can be outright risky.

If you drink, the alcohol dilutes the blood which means that you can bleed during the process. Moreover, the pain that will be weathered will be much greater because the skin may not accept the ink well because of the extreme bleeding.

Have a Break

If you decide to put a tattoo in a hurtful spot, or if you have difficulty tolerating pain, do not hesitate to ask your tattoo artist for a break. However, the break should not be too long since it may trigger the tattooed spot to swell which could make it hard to carry on. Nevertheless, a quick break for some juice and snack will increase the levels of blood glucose and help you control pain. 

If the nerve endings are receiving a nice workout and you feel the pain too difficult to handle or you think you need to change your position, inform the artist. Your artist will want you to be complacent and calm so they can make incredible art in your body. Do not hesitate to talk to them openly and inform them precisely what you like. 

Consider Using a Numbing Product

Various products in the market are appropriate for tattoos. Nonetheless, results may differ. 

For individuals who want a bit of additional assistance for handling the pain, a nice tattoo numbing cream may help them lessen the pain.  

Preparations for Less Painful Tattoo Session

Although every person has a unique tolerance for pain, it is undeniably going to hurt. But worry not! There are some preparations that you can do to get a less painful tattoo session.

Bring something that would occupy your mind

Music, book, or movie may bring your mind somewhere else while getting your tattoo. The primary concept is to put your concentration on other things to forget about the pain. Furthermore, calming yourself and controlling your breathing can also help you finish the session more comfortably.

Again, sleeping well and eating well will also help provide a less painful tattoo session.

Be Positive

Being positive about your tattoo is necessary. Begin perceiving about it in an optimistic manner around one week before your session. Avoid thinking negative thoughts as you may only end up feeling freak out. As you get your tattoo, welcome the possibility of physical pain in such a manner that it helps you to calm down and throw away nervousness, stress, and tension.


Getting a tattoo is undeniably painful for anyone. But as mentioned, several factors affect the level of pain felt by an individual. Factors such as the position of the tattoo, skin condition, and sex can influence the amount of pain that is felt by a person.

See to it that you are aware of the corresponding pain, aggravations, and exposures of tattoo regret before you make an appointment with a tattoo artist.

Tattoos may only consume minutes to hours to be placed in your body, but they can stay a lifetime. Pain is only one concern of getting a tattoo. Getting rid of the tattoo is a lot more time-consuming and hurtful process, and has combined outputs.


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