Tattoos are among the most common body illustrations globally. According to a 2010 study, a whopping 38 percent of people 18 to 29 years old have been inked at least once in their lives.
A natural question to ask is, “Does getting a tattoo hurt?”
Most people will say yes, in reality, this is a complex question to answer. Tattooing involves repeatedly piercing your skin’s top layer with a sharp needle covered with pigment. There is no scientific evidence that says which areas of the body will feel the most and least pain when getting inked.
Here’s the general consensus: The least painful places to get tattooed are those with the most fat, fewest nerve endings, and thickest skin. The most painful places to get tattooed are those with the least fat, most nerve endings, and thinnest skin. Bony areas usually hurt a lot.
Read on to find out which spots are likely to be most and least painful.
Everyone experiences pain in different ways. The placement of your tattoo, as well as what your sex is, can affect the pain. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the most and least painful places to get tattooed.
It’s likely most painful to get a tattoo on a part of your body with many nerve endings, close to bones without much fat, or where your skin is very thin. Pain in these areas may be high to severe.
The armpit is among the most painful places, if not the most painful place, to get tattooed. The pain you’ll experience getting tattooed here is very severe. In fact, most tattoo artists advise against people getting armpit tattoos.
The rib cage is probably the second most painful place for most people to get tattooed. Pain here can be severe. The skin around your ribs is extremely thin, and there’s less fat here than on most other parts of your body.
Also, every time you breathe, you move your rib cage and the skin above it, which can make the feeling of being tattooed here much more intense.
Ankles and shins
Your ankle bones and shinbones lie just beneath thin layers of skin, making it very painful to be tattooed in these areas. Ankle and shin tattoos usually cause severe pain. It’s about the same level of pain caused by tattooing over your rib cage.
Elbows or kneecap
Your elbows and kneecaps are areas where your bones lie just beneath your skin. Vibrations caused by tattooing over the bone can cause high to severe pain.
Behind the knees
This is another part of the body where you may experience severe pain when being tattooed. The area behind your knees has loose, stretchy skin with many nerve endings. These characteristics make this area very sensitive to tattoo needles.
Because your hip bones lie just below your skin, getting hip tattoos can cause severe pain. This is especially true if you are very thin and have less fat around your hips to cushion your hip bones.
Neck and spine
Neck and spine tattoos are known to be among the most painful tattoos because the neck and spine are very sensitive areas.
Head, face, and ears
Like the neck, your head, face, and ears contain many nerve endings that can be irritated during a tattoo and may cause severe pain. There’s not a lot of fat on your head, face, and ears, so you don’t have much of a cushion for the tattoo needle here.
The skin on and around your lips is generally loose with lots of nerve endings. A tattoo on your lips will almost certainly cause severe pain and could lead to bleeding, swelling, and bruising.
Hands, fingers, feet, and toes
The tops and insides of the hands and feet, as well as fingers and toes, are popular places to be tattooed. Being tattooed anywhere on your hands and feet can cause severe pain. The skin here very thin, and it contains numerous nerve endings that can trigger pain when hit by a tattoo needle.
What’s more, when nerves in your hands and feet are disturbed by a tattoo needle, they may undergo painful spasms that make the tattooing experience very unpleasant.
Stomach tattoos may cause pain that ranges from high to severe.
The level of pain you experience depends on what kind of shape you’re in. People with higher body weights tend to have looser skin on their stomachs than people with lower body weights.
A person with tighter skin over their stomach is likely to experience less pain than a person with looser skin in this area.
While the muscle inside your inner bicep can reduce the amount of pain of getting tattooed in this area, the skin here tends to be soft and loose. Getting tattooed on your inner bicep can cause a high amount of pain, but doesn’t usually cause severe pain.
Tattoos here generally take longer than other parts of the body to heal.
Areas that likely cause the least amount of pain when tattooed tend to be padded with some fat, have tight skin, have few nerve endings, and aren’t close to bones. Pain in these areas will be low to moderate.
Some of the least painful spots include:
Upper outer thigh
This part of the body is well padded with fat and has few nerve endings. The upper outer thigh is one of the least painful places to get a tattoo, with pain low to low-moderate in most people.
There’s a lot of muscle and thick skin on your forearms, without many nerve endings. Tattoos on the forearms usually cause a low to low-moderate amount of pain.
The outer part of your shoulders has thick skin with few nerve endings, making it one of the least painful places to get tattooed. The pain of being tattooed here is usually low to low-moderate.
The outer bicep has a lot of muscle without a lot of nerve endings, making it a good place for a tattoo that won’t cause a lot of pain. Outer bicep tattoos usually cause low to low-moderate levels of pain.
There is a significant amount of fat and muscle on the calves, and few nerve endings, so calf tattoos usually aren’t too painful. You can expect to feel low to low-moderate levels of pain here.
Upper and lower back
Getting a tattoo on your upper or lower back usually causes low-moderate to moderate amounts of pain because the skin here is thick with few nerve endings. The further away from your tattoo from the bones and nerve endings in your spine and hips, the less pain you’ll feel.
At Pyramid Tattoo We strive to make your tattoo appointment as comfortable as possible. Keeping in mind your own personal pain tolerance as well as this blog post to best decide where your tattoo should be placed.