Tattoo Pain Chart: The Least and Most Painful Areas

tattoo pain

Tattoos are one of the most popular forms of body art found all over the world. According to a study, one in three people has tattoos today. Hopefully, you know that tattoos are painful endeavours.

It is because your skin is repeatedly punctured to etch a tattoo. That’s the reason; getting a tattoo is almost always and unavoidably painful. However, different people report varying degrees of discomfort. Males experience and cope with pain in a different manner than females.

Also, getting a tattoo causes varying degrees of discomfort in different areas of the body because of its complexity.

The fatty areas of the body having the fewest nerve endings and the thickest skin are considered the least painful areas to have tattooed on. In contrast, the areas of the body that have the least fat, the most nerve endings, and the thinnest skin are the ones that are the most painful to get tattooed.

If you want to know more about the parts that pain the most or least, then read this post. In this post, we shall discuss the level of pain in different areas of the body.

So, let’s get started…

Pain manifests itself in unique ways for each individual. The degree of discomfort that you feel after getting a tattoo can vary depending on its location, as well as your sexual orientation. So, let’s take a deeper look at the most painful and the least painful spots to get a tattoo.

Most Painful Areas

More often than not, tattoos on an area of your body that has a lot of nerve endings, is close to bones and doesn’t have much fat on them, or has very thin skin are the most painful. Pain might range from moderate to severe in various regions, some of them are as follows:


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The spine is one of the most painful places . Spine tattoos are considered one of the most painful tattoos. If you’re planning a spine tat, then be prepared for a great deal of discomfort. Most tattoo artists recommend not having spine tattoos if you’re unable to endure pain.

The majority of patients report that getting a tattoo on their rib cage is the second most painful part of the process. The discomfort here might be quite intense because your ribcage is surrounded by incredibly thinner skin. Also, there is far less fat on the ribcage compared to the majority of other regions of your body.

Additionally, each time you breathe, your rib cage moves along with the skin located above it. This can cause the sensation of having a tattoo placed in this area to be even more severe.

Nape is yet another painful place in your body. It is because the nape region also has a thin covering of skin. That’s the reason the discomfort in this region is quite intense.

The armpit is one of the most painful areas to get a tattoo. When you get a tattoo here, you should be prepared for a great deal of discomfort. Like spine tattoos, the vast majority of tattoo artists recommend that clients should not have armpit tattoos.

  • The Shins and the Ankles

Ankle bones and shinbones lie just beneath the thin layers of skin; getting a tattoo there is an extremely uncomfortable experience for you. Tattoos on the ankle and shin typically cause a great deal of discomfort. The level of discomfort is comparable to that generated by getting a tattoo over your rib cage.

  • The Breasts and the Nipples

The nipples and breasts are quite delicate places. Getting a tattoo there can be an excruciatingly painful experience.

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Your groin is full of nerve endings, and tattoo needles have the potential to hurt these nerve ends. The level of pain here might range from moderate to severe.

  • Elbows and Kneecaps

You can see the bones of your elbows and kneecaps through the thin layer of skin that covers them. When a tattoo is applied directly to the bone, the resulting vibrations can induce pain ranging from moderate to excruciating.

Getting a knee tattoo will be very painful. It is because the skin in the knee region or behind your knees is soft and stretchy, and it contains a lot of nerve endings, due to which this area is highly sensitive to the needles used in tattooing.

  • The head and back

Tattoos on the neck and back are among the most painful types of tattoos. This is due to the fact that the neck and back are particularly sensitive places.

  • The face and the ears

Numerous nerve endings are located in the neck and face, as well as in the ears, which can get inflamed during the tattooing process and cause terrible pain. All these areas don’t provide much of a cushion for the tattoo needle.

Lip tattoos are also very painful endeavours. It is because the skin on and around your lips is very flexible and has a great number of nerve endings.

  • Hands and Fingers

Hands and finger tattoos are quite popular among tattoo enthusiasts. However, know that getting a tattoo anyplace on your hands or fingers can be an excruciatingly painful experience. You may feel substantial pain when a tattoo needle penetrates this area’s extremely thin skin since it contains a high concentration of nerve endings.

Even though a tattoo on the inner bicep might be excruciatingly painful for some, most people experience only little discomfort.

Like hands and fingers, feet and toe tattoos are also very painful. Feet and toes have a very thin layer of skin which is why you experience excruciating pain in these areas. A tattoo needle can irritate the nerves in your feet and toes, making getting a tattoo a very unpleasant experience overall.

Tattoos on the stomach can cause discomfort ranging from mild to excruciating, depending on the type of design. As your physical health deteriorates, your level of discomfort increases. It is less painful for a person with tighter abdominal muscles than for someone with looser abdominal muscles.

Healing times for tattoos on this area of the body are typically much longer than those on other regions of the body.

Least Painful Areas

In general, areas that are padded with some fat, have tight skin, have few nerve endings, and are not adjacent to bones are the best candidates for getting a tattoo since they inflict the least amount of pain. The level of pain in these regions will range from mild to moderate.

The following are some of the less uncomfortable areas:

Tattoos on the forearms normally generate a low to low-moderate amount of pain. It is because there’s a lot of muscle and thick skin on your forearms, without many nerve endings.

The outer bicep does not have a lot of nerve endings. That’s why it is considered an excellent location for a tattoo. In most cases, getting a tattoo on the outside bicep causes only mild to moderate amounts of discomfort.

  • Outside of the Shoulders

The skin on the outside of your shoulders is thick and has few nerve endings; hence, it is considered one of the least painful areas on the body.

Legs Because there is a substantial quantity of fat and muscle on the calves, as well as a relatively small number of nerve endings, getting a tattoo on the calves is typically not too painful. You can expect to feel some discomfort in this place, but it will likely be mild to mildly moderate in intensity.

  • The upper part of the outer thigh
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In the majority of cases, getting a tattoo on the upper portion of the outer thigh causes minimal to moderate discomfort. This makes it one of the least painful tattoo locations on the body. Along with having a low concentration of nerve terminals, this region of the body is well-padded with fat.

  • Lower and Upper Back

The skin on your upper or lower back is thick and contains few nerve endings, having a tattoo there usually causes discomfort that ranges from low to moderate. The process will be less painful if the tattoo is placed further away from the spine and hip bones and nerve endings.

Other Factors Determining Level Of Pain

Your perception of pain can be influenced by a number of different factors, including the following:

Research indicates that females have a heightened sensitivity to the sensations of pain compared to men. There may be physiological and chemical variations between men and women that contribute to this phenomenon.

  • Your Age and Weight

Getting a tattoo gets more painful as you get older and heavier. Older skin may be more susceptible to bruising or feeling pain than younger skin.

People who are heavier may have skin that is suppler, which makes it more vulnerable to tattoo irritation. Those with a low body fat percentage, on the other hand, may be more sensitive to pain.

Different Types of Tattoo Pain

The following are some of the most common types of tattoo pain:

A dull but constant ache in the background

When getting inked, you’re most likely to feel this type of agony. As soon as the needle starts to buzz and makes initial contact with your skin, your body’s natural response to being punctured by a needle is to begin producing stress chemicals like adrenaline.

As a result, pain is less intense and more like an aching sensation in the background than an excruciating stabbing sensation. The dull aching that accompanies receiving a tattoo might change or intensify at various stages.

For the duration of the tattoo, it is more likely that you will remain in a state of dull agony if you are distracted by something else, like talking to the artist or watching television.

Burning agony

Burning pain is akin to the sensation of having something extremely hot placed on your skin for a long amount of time. When a tattoo needle repeatedly pierces your skin in the same spot, it causes irritation due to the rawness of your skin and the resulting stress. In areas where a tattoo artist has worked for a long time, it is most commonly felt.

It’s more common in places where there’s a lot of visceral fat, as well. Burning usually does not produce a lot of pain, but it can be extremely inconvenient.

A burning or piercing sensation

The pain can be described as being similar to that of bee stings. Typically, the pain associated with this condition is pretty severe, and it has the sensation that the needle is being pushed very profoundly into the skin. It can be enough to make you want to back away from the tattoo needle at times.

When a tattoo artist is adding very fine detail to your tattoo or making the outline of your tattoo, you will most likely feel this pain. Like the wrists and biceps, other body areas that have thinner skin are more prone to suffer a sharp or stinging sensation.

The itching discomfort

The majority of people describe their pain as feeling like they are being scratched. This form of discomfort can seem like an acute scratch that is travelling across the tattooed area. It is similar to the sensation of having a cat scratch your skin.

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Even though this discomfort isn’t typically very severe, it can become rather uncomfortable if the artist works on the same spot for an extended period. Using multiple needles at the same time typically results in a greater degree of discomfort. This kind of pain occurs when your tattoo artist adds shade to your design.

Vibrating pain

When obtaining a tattoo in an extremely bony spot, such as the skin on the wrists, elbows, nape, ribs, and ankles, you could feel a vibrating discomfort during the procedure.

When a tattoo needle pricks skin above the bone, the nerves in your bones may pick up the vibrating feeling. This is especially likely to happen if the needle is moving very quickly. This results in a painful vibrating sensation. Pain caused by vibration is typically not severe. If you have less skin and fat covering your bones, as well as if you are thinner overall, you will have a greater likelihood of experiencing vibrating pain.

Tips to Lessen Pain

In order to make getting a tattoo less painful, here are some helpful tips:

Choosing a reputable tattoo artist is the first and foremost step to lessening the pain. It is because professionals are experienced people, and they know to what extent they can prick your skin to etch the tattoo. An inexperienced or a random artist can cause severe damage in the process.

Check their certifications.

Aside from picking an expert artist, do check their certification as well. Also, don’t miss thoroughly inspecting their gear before hiring them. Your tattoo artist should always use clean gloves and equipment that has been sanitized before each client.

Ask your artist to take breaks.

If you are having problems coping with the discomfort during the tattooing process, ask your tattoo artist to take breaks.

Do eat healthily

Drinking plenty of water and eating healthy meals is imperative before your tattoo session. Make sure you eat a healthy meal before you step out for your tattoo session. Drinking plenty of water will keep your skin supple and tight, which will make getting a tattoo less painful.

NOTE: If you’re planning a stomach tattoo, avoid eating anything. Yes, you shouldn’t eat anything before you go get it done. Eating anything before your stomach tattoo can cause severe discomfort.

Sleep well

There’s no substitute for a good night’s sleep. A good night’s sleep the night before will make it much simpler for you to deal with the pain of having a tattoo.

Avoid alcohol before and after the tattoo session.

Consuming alcohol increases the risk of bleeding and bruising because it thins the blood. Also, this can cause a great deal of discomfort and might even destroy your tattoo.

Take good tattoo aftercare.

After getting your tattoo done, it is important to follow all of the aftercare instructions, which include washing your tattoo, covering it with loose clothing, and applying ointment and moisturizer. Doing so will help you feel less pain and lower your risk of developing issues.

So, this is all about the level of pain or discomfort while getting a tattoo. Hopefully, this post has been informative for you and will help you determine the right placement for your body artwork.

Know that tattoos are painful endeavours. Every person feels some level of discomfort or pain during the tattooing process. However, the amount of discomfort varies from person to person. The level of pain depends on several factors, including your sex, age, skin condition, design, and tattoo placement.

Aside from pain, the other factors you must determine before going to the tattoo parlour include the tattoo design, problems, and hazards associated with tattooing to avoid any regrets.