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Does it Hurt to Get a Tattoo?

This is the first question in any person's mind that has decided to get tattooed: how bad does it hurt?


To start with, it is worth noting that the pain tolerance of everyone is different and that there is no universal pain relief. With the hopes of highlighting any key concerns you may have in regards to the pain involved when it comes to getting tattooed, the below information aims to help you prepare for the full tattooing process, both physically and mentally, as well as the variables that may make the experience more comfortable for you. 

What are the factors affecting pain during a tattoo?

  • Fatigue - to get tattooed in the evening or after a hard day's work is not advised for your best experience

  • Complexity/Placement - simple and smaller tattoos are less time consuming and can be less painful

  • Skin Conditions - existing skin conditons such as eczema or even sunburn can amplify the pain experienced, so address this with your artist beforehand to find out how best to manage it 

WHAT ARE The most painful body parts to tattoo?

The most painful places to get tattooed are places on the body where the skin is very close to the bone, as well as parts of the body with sensitive skin or significant amounts of nerve endings.


These areas include the:

  • Inside of the elbow

  • Skin around the nipples

  • Armpits

  • Area under the chest muscles on the ribs

  • Skin behind the knees

  • Pelvic area


  • Have a good night's sleep before your appointment

  • Have a decent meal earlier in the day

  • Speak to your friends who've been tattooed

  • Ask your artist questions you might have

  • Choose the right clothes considering the area you are getting tattooed

  • Ask your artist to take regular breaks if needed

What does getting a tattoo feel like?

The tattooing process causes a few different feelings of pain. A scratching and stinging pain is usually associated with the outlining of tattoos where as if the tattoo goes over a boney area of the body, you may experience vibrating pain. While it isn't as painful, it isn't exactly a comfortable feeling either. Overall, getting tattooed feels like a burning, niggling discomfort as the needle penetrates the top layer of the skin.


When getting larger tattoos, it can be more difficult to deal with the pain. This is because they involve a thorough rendering of each part of the image and because you're also sitting for a longer period of time. The discomfort during the tattooing process can be said to mimic the pain of a graze. But while a graze may only hurt for a few minutes, the skin can be worked on for several hours during the tattooing process.


The bigger a tattoo is, the more painful it is, regardless of the location. Most tattoo artists carefully consider the tattoo region, often offering to take a break during the process or to split it into multiple sessions.


Unpleasant areas for women include: the armpits, the neck and face, the zone around the breasts, the elbows, the pelvic area, the ankles, the region above the shins and the ankle joint. Among women surveyed, the least painful tattoo areas included: shoulders and forearms, breasts, muscles of the calf and thighs.


Unpleasant areas for men include: the head, armpits, elbows, the chest and ribs, the pelvic area, shins, knees and soles. Among men surveyed, the least painful tattoo areas included: the shoulders and forearms, top of the thighs, shoulder blades and calf muscles.


Is it painful to get a tattoo on your hand, shoulder, forearm or wrist?

The outer shoulder and forearm are the least painful areas and the areas close the the armpit and inner shoulder are more painful due to the sensitive skin in that area. The wrist is one of the most painful areas on the arm as well as there are a lot of nerve endings located here with no fat to protect them.


Is it painful to get a tattoo on your leg, thigh, sole or calf?

The outer thigh and calves are the least painful areas and the areas close to the bone, the inner thigh and the sole of the foot are quite painful. Tattoos on the pelvic area and behind the knee are known to be very painful.


Is it painful to get a tattoo on your back?

The back is not an area that would be considered to be painful. However if you choose a large, full back tattoo, due to the longer duration being under the needle, there will be a significantly higher level of discomfort.


Is it painful to get a tattoo on your collarbone?

Any tattoo done on a bony area is regarded as painful.


Is it painful to get a tattoo on your breast or chest?

Chest tattoos are more painful for men than women however the area under the breasts is considered to be quite painful.


At the end of the day tattoos hurt but in the best way possible. When you go through pain, your brain releases endorphins, and your body likes endorphins. Remember to stay calm and cool, there’s nothing to stress over. You’re in good hands at Paragon Tattoo!

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