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18 Most Painful Places to Get a Tattoo on Your Body

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Tattoos are one of the most popular forms of body art throughout the world. If you’re getting your first tattoo or thinking of getting some on different body parts, the wimp in you would naturally wonder, “What are the most painful places to get a tattoo?” This article demystifies that area of your concern so that you’re mentally prepared for your next tattoo session.

A tattoo on most body parts will hurt at least a little bit. Though no tattoo’s completely pain-free, males generally can deal with pain differently than their female counterparts. Moreover, even within our biological gender, some of us will experience more pain than others. The amount of discomfort also depends on our pain threshold as well as the tattoo placement. You will feel different levels of pain in different areas of your body, some of which can be excruciating and perhaps unbearable for many.  

Based on their tolerance level, each tattooed person will have something different to say about the level of pain they felt. Yet, based on anecdotal evidence from popular industry websites, the consensus reveals, certain areas of the body are more sensitive than others while being tattooed. 

Most Painful Places To Get A TattooLeast Painful Places To Get A Tattoo
Areas of the body with the least fat, thinnest skin, dense nerve endings, and bony areas.Areas of the body with the most fat, thickest skin, and few nerve endings.

The below pain chart followed by the list we’ve compiled sheds complete light on the worst places to get tattooed.

Tattoo Pain Chart 

As mentioned earlier, thin skin areas with dense nerve endings over bony areas are the most prone to excruciating pain while tattooing. This tattoo pain chart reveals exactly where on your body, whether you’re a man or woman, you are bound to experience relatively more pain. The scale ranging from least to most pain should be able to guide you in deciding the best spot for your next tattoo.

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18 Most Painful Places To Get A Tattoo

It’s more likely than not, you’ve landed on this page because you’re apprehensive of tattoo pain. Now, you can rest assured your curiosity about the most painful places to get a tattoo will end here. Even though some level of pain is inevitable with any tattoo and its specific placement, being aware of where it’s likely to hurt most helps you choose a good spot and reduce potential pain substantially.

1. Ribs

Many consider the ribs to be the most painful place to get a tattoo since the skin over the ribs is extremely thin with minimal fat there. Moreover, the rib cage is constantly moving at the same frequency as the momentum of your breath, thus causing intense pain during the tattoo session.  

2. Neck

Those with a low tolerance for pain should refrain from getting neck area tattoos. There are large nerves along the bottom and sides of the neck. These nerves are extra sensitive to pain caused by the needling process. The cervical nerve is also located in the neck. Hence, the pain can get worse if it ends up traveling down your spine and shoulder from these nerves. 

3. Armpit

The armpit is an odd place to get tattooed and not one that artists would recommend at all. Many find this to be the most painful region of the body for a tattoo because armpit skin is highly soft and extremely sensitive. The axillary nerve and the glands are located at the armpits, which is another reason why it can get extremely sore if you’re getting tattooed there. 

4. Nipples

Breasts and nipples are among the most sensitive locations. Getting tattooed in these areas can hurt quite a bit. This hasn’t inhibited enthusiasts to ignore these popular areas though.

5. Inner Thigh

This one will be a surprise to hear. The inner thigh is one of the worst spots to get inked on if you don’t have pain tolerance. It’s a shocker because this is a fleshy area with both sufficient muscle and fat. The flesh here, however, is soft and rather sensitive. Furthermore, this area is prone to excessive rubbing against your clothes and the other thigh, which causes a longer healing time. 

6. Back Of Your Knee

The back of your knee is another place where the skin is loose and stretchy. While being tattooed there, you may experience unbearable pain. There are plenty of nerve endings that get stimulated by the tattoo needle. 

7. Ear

The ears do not carry much buffer for the tattoo needle. There are numerous nerve endings on the ears that are prone to severe stinging during a tattoo session, which can cause incredible pain. The lack of fat on the ears means there is not enough cushion for the needle to let you bear the pain. 

8. Lip

The lips are quite dense on the nerves front. You can thus imagine how excruciatingly painful getting a tattoo there could be for most people. At best, you should prefer only a small, simple tattoo there. The tattoo wound of the lip isn’t typical. Bleeding and swelling typically occur during or after getting inked. 

9. Inner Bicep

The inner bicep area has soft skin with high elasticity. The pain during tattooing isn’t usually severe, but it’s high nevertheless. The pain level is reduced due to the muscle inside your bicep. The denser your muscle in the inside bicep, the lower the pain. The healing time of the tattoo is relatively longer here. On the whole, this is a popular tattoo spot for both sexes.

10. Head And Face

The head is another extremely painful place to get a tattoo. Here the pain level is intense due to there being very little muscle and skin to minimize the painful impact of the needle. The exact intensity of the pain depends largely on the size and type of design and the specific location on the head or face. 

Furthermore, the fact that the tattoo machine is causing vibrations on your head, makes the experience psychologically more difficult. You’re hearing the process so close to your ears that this adds to the pain and even causes a prolonged headache. 

11. Stomach

If you know your stomach, you’d agree that the skin there is quite stretchy. The incredible elasticity of your tummy skin means a tattoo there can be substantially painful. The exact level of pain there also depends on your fitness level. If your body fat percentage is low, you’ll have a flatter stomach, implying there will be lower pain while being tattooed. 

12. Hip

The popularity of hip tattoos stems from women’s desire to look great, especially in the summer. For women, there’s nothing sexier than getting inked along the hip bone. The hip region is painful to tattoo because the skin and bone are too close. Those with slender bodies will feel more pain due to less fat around the hip to buffer the hip bones. 

13. Hands

The hands are a highly sought-after place for tattoos. Whether it’s the inside or outside of your hands, the tattoo session won’t be devoid of severe pain. The culprit, once again, is the numerous nerve endings and the extremely thin skin that trigger immense pain while being hit by the needle of a tattoo machine.  

14. Fingers

As with feet and hands, when a fine pointed tattoo needle pricks the nerves in your fingers, they’re sure to undergo painful spasms. The tattooing experience, therefore, will be one with measurable discomfort. Nevertheless, fingers remain a popular placement for tattoos.

15. Genitals

The genitals are a place with a whole lot of nerve endings. It’s no rocket science that getting inked in your private parts like your penis or scrotum would be no less than torturous. It’s wise to refrain from choosing your genitals as an area for your first tattoo, or at all. Besides the pain, another reason for refraining is due to the healing process requiring keeping the area dry and safe from bacteria for the crucial first couple of weeks.  

16. Foot

The feet, specifically their top area, is one of the most painful places to get a tattoo. The large number of nerves situated here cause sensitivity that results in intense pain when being tattooed. Let’s not forget how thin the skin is there. The tattoo needles will cause high vibration on the bones, and that’s not a comfortable feeling by any standard.

17. Elbow

The elbow has very thin skin on top of pure bone. The pain level may be at par with the rib tattoo experience as the elbow similarly has sensitive nerve endings. These nerves may further trigger pain down your arm, depending on the amount of work the needle is put through. The elbow area has no fat to cushion the needling process. As a result, the vibration traumatizes the bone with huge discomfort. If you must add aesthetic appeal to your elbow, it’s best to keep the tattoo design small and simple if your pain threshold is low. 

18. Knee

A tattoo anywhere along the circumference of the knee is bound to be extremely painful. Like the sensation during an elbow tattoo session, the front of the knee experience is similar, due to there being thin skin above a prominent bone. Besides the agonizing pain levels, knee tattoos are also associated with longer healing periods. 

Conclusion

No tattoo is entirely pain-free. There will always be some pain, sometimes a high level, if you aren’t planning on refraining from getting your favorite spot tattooed. As seen from the list above, certain areas can be avoided to experience less pain. The tip to draw from all this is to avoid getting tattooed over a place of bone, thin skin, and dense nerve endings. For those situations, and this is the good news, the pain can be minimized by applying one of the best numbing creams for tattoos.   

That said, there are quite a few spots on your body that won’t be as painful to get inked. The least painful places to get a tattoo are also the best suited for your larger, more prominent designs. These areas include the forearm, upper outer thigh, outer bicep, outer shoulder, calves, and the entire back.

About Author

Jonathan Corby "Jonny" is a guy who is passionate about Tattooing and successfully running a Tattoo Studio in NY. Through my journey as a Tattoo Artist I have made unforgettable memories. This irrational poetry and sense of freedom of art on skin has given a blissfull experience to my life. Each Tattoo has a story behind it; Lets share one!