What Are The Most Painful Places To Get A Tattoo?

Tattoo pain is a common worry for many people. Knowing the most painful places to get a tattoo can help.

Written by Gayatri Sarin

On Mar 12, 2023 – 11 minutes read

What are the most painful places to get a tattoo

If you’re considering getting a tattoo, one of the first concerns you’re likely to have is, “how much does it hurt to get a tattoo?” “Are there any least painful or most painful places to get a tattoo?” 

Getting a tattoo involves puncturing an ink-filled needle into your skin repeatedly. Since pain is a highly subjective experience, how much discomfort you will feel when getting a tattoo depends on many factors – individual pain tolerance is one of the first and foremost. People have different pain thresholds, and what may be a tolerable level of pain for one may be unbearable for another.

Most Painful Places To Get A Tattoo And The Factors Affecting The Pain!

The tattoo’s placement, style, design, size, and complexity are other factors that affect the amount of pain you feel while getting tattooed. In this section, let us explore the factors affecting tattoo pain. 

Most Painful Places To Get A Tattoo And The Factors Affecting The Pain!

Skin Sensitivity

Generally, people with sensitive skin can experience discomfort and problems when getting a tattoo. Sensitive skin can hurt more and bleeds easily. 

Tattoo Location

The positioning of your tattoo also plays a crucial role in the degree of pain. If it is at a place where the level of pain is high, like the stomach, fingers, or ribs, you will experience more pain. A simple pinch test can help you understand the difference in levels of pain based on where you’re getting tattooed. Imagine the areas that hurt on pinching. The top of your forearm will hurt less than the inner biceps. 

Size And Complexity Of The Design

The size and complexity of the tattoo design can also affect tattoo pain. It may not be too painful to get a small and simple design, but a larger tattoo with many fine lines and detail, such as a compass tattoo or watercolor tattoo, can be very painful. An intricate and detailed tattoo will take longer to finish, and thus, the discomfort you experience will be more.  

Tattoo Artist’s Technique

The tattooer is another factor affecting how much pain you feel when getting a tattoo. Some tattooers are more heavy-handed than others, resulting in a more painful experience. You may feel significantly more pain if your tattoo artist goes too deep into your skin. With an expert, experienced tattoo artist, you will feel discomfort, but the pain must not be excruciating. 

Most Painful Places To Get A Tattoo And The Factors Affecting The Pain!

The good news is that you can reduce and manage the pain by carefully selecting the tattoo’s placement as well. Find out more about the most painful places to get a tattoo in the next section!

Top 10 Most Painful Places To Get A Tattoo

Tattoos are great, but they are not pain-free. Pain tolerance differs from person to person. Thus, you must consider which body part you want to get inked. The most painful places to get a tattoo are those with the thinnest skin, least fat, and most nerve endings. Bony areas also hurt a lot. 

1. Head

Migraine is painful. Therefore, it is obvious that needles constantly piercing your head will not feel great. Tattoo experts suggest that the skull area or head is among the most sensitive places for getting a tattoo. Generally, a head tattoo can lead to scorching and stinging sensations. Individual pain tolerance varies, so assessing your unique pain threshold may be a better way to understand how much it will hurt to get a head tattoo. 

2. Stomach

The stomach is a painful area to get tattooed since the skin is highly elastic and freely stretches. It is also more vulnerable because it doesn’t have a group of bones covering it. You can experience gentle to rigorous pain from stomach tattoos.

An aspect determining the level of pain in a stomach tattoo is the physical form, which is unique for each individual. People who weigh more tend to have looser skin on their stomachs compared to those who weigh less. Someone with looser skin on the stomach is more likely to feel significant discomfort than someone with tighter skin on their stomach. While stomach tattoos are cute, you must be ready to pay the price. 

3. Chest And Rib Cage

Tattoos on the chest and rib cage look good, and their size is typically large. But it can come with quite a lot of pain. Ribs are bony and have thin skin, which makes them one of the most painful places to get a tattoo. The skin surrounding your rib cage is fragile. It does not have as much fat as most other regions of the body.

There is very little cushioning, and the bones are just underneath the skin. Therefore, the nerve ends and feels the needle’s discomfort immediately. Additionally, your chest and ribs move while breathing, making it quite uncomfortable to get a tattoo there. The pain may be agonizing on the chest or rib cage. Remember to carry a squishy ball to squeeze during the process 🙂

4. Nipples And Breasts

Breasts and nipples are susceptible regions with many nerve endings. It is excruciatingly uncomfortable to get a breast tattoo. These areas are among the most sensitive in the body, and opting for a tattoo on the breasts and nipples can cause significant discomfort. 

5. Hand, Fingers, Feet, And Toes

It is common to have tattoos on the tips and centers of the hands, fingers, feet, and toes. However, they are one of the most painful places to get a tattoo. The process will disrupt a large number of nerves in your hands and feet, leading to painful spasms. Having a tattoo on your fingers and toes will also be extremely painful. These areas have relatively thin skin, and various nerve endings can cause discomfort during needle penetration. Additionally, the skin on the extremities is thin. 

The fingers and toes are so tiny and curved. Creating a clean, accurate tattoo on such parts is pretty challenging for a tattoo artist. It is vital to understand that this problem adds to the discomfort. 

Top 10 Most Painful Places To Get A Tattoo

6. Collarbone

As mentioned earlier, tattooing on an area that is bony and has thin skin is painful. The collarbone is right underneath the skin. When a tattoo artist moves the machine on the collarbone, its vibration is going to reverberate in your bone and shake you all the way up your neck. Consequently, getting a collarbone tattoo will be immensely painful, sometimes like a shiatsu needle massage.  

7. Elbows

When you pinch your elbow, it doesn’t hurt. But that doesn’t mean elbow tattoos are easy. Elbows don’t have many nerve endings. However, they are still not on the list of least painful places to get a tattoo. We agree that elbows undergo a lot of wear and tear, but they are quite painful areas for a tattoo. The lack of fat growth and bone proximity is what causes the pain. 

8. Knees

The knees are similar to the elbows. Not a lot of fat grows over the kneecaps, and the bone is right underneath. While the knees don’t have nerve endings themselves, the bones and connective tissues surrounding them do, making them one of the most painful places to get a tattoo. You might also feel a vibrating sensation all the way down your shin when getting body art on the back of the knee or on the knee. 

9. Inner Thighs

The back and inside of the thighs are among the most painful places to get a tattoo. They are not skinny or bony but are super sensitive. Run your fingers up your outer thighs. Now, do the same on your inner thighs. Did you feel any difference? You’ll feel a similar difference in pain and vibration with needles. A tattoo on the inner thighs will not be too much fun!

10. Armpits

The armpit is one of the most painful areas on the body to receive a tattoo. The axillary nerve travels through the armpit. It is vital for arm and shoulder sensation and movement. The pain felt while getting tattooed on the armpit is excruciating. The armpit is also the location of lymph nodes and glands. Thus, the healing process will be more painful and lengthier than with a typical tattoo. 

The least painful places to get a tattoo are the ones with the fewest nerve endings, thickest skin, and the fattest areas. These include the upper and lower back, shoulder and outer bicep, upper or outer thigh, and forearm. 

What Are The Most Painful Places To Get A Tattoo For A Girl?

Tattoo pain for females can be different from tattoo pain for males depending on where it’s being done. It is because of the shape of the bodies. For instance, women tend to have fleshier hips, and due to this extra layer of flesh, it can be less painful for women to get a tattoo on their hips than men do(1). 

Of course, men and women have tattoo placements where the pain is exactly the same. These parts include the ears, knees, head, fingers, etc. The most painful places to get a tattoo for a girl include

  • Head
  • Armpit
  • Inside wrist
  • Rib cage
  • Breasts
  • Inside arm
  • Hand/finger
  • Inside thigh
  • Foot/ankle

Tattoo Pain Scale 1-10 Female: What Is The Level Of Pain?

Tattoo pain is also dependent on your own body – shape, fat accumulation, health, skin sensitivity, etc. Here’s a tattoo pain scale of 1-10 for females to have an idea of how much it hurts to get a tattoo on their different body parts. 

  • Mild: 1-3
  • Moderate: 3-6
  • Severe: 6-8
  • Extremely severe: 8-10

Tattoo Pain Chart Female: Explained Based On Placement

The following chart would be a helpful indicator of the degree of pain females experience when getting tattooed in different places. 

Tattoo Pain Chart Female: Explained Based On Placement
Body PartPain Scale
Breast and Chest9
Rib cage9
Shin bones and Ankles9
Groin Area8
Knees and Elbows7
Ears, hands, and fingers7
Inner biceps7
Outer shoulder6
Head and face6
Outer biceps5

How To Prepare For The Pain Of A Tattoo?

There are some things you can do before getting a tattoo to prepare for or reduce the sensation of tattoo pain. 

1. Eat well

You need a good amount of time and energy to get a tattoo. If you don’t eat well before getting a tattoo, you can have low blood pressure and feel lightheaded. Eat a good meal packed with carbohydrates and proteins before your appointment with the tattoo artist. However, don’t eat without consulting the tattoo artist if you’re getting your stomach inked.

2. Stay hydrated

Drink lots of water. Tattooing is a long process. If you’re hydrated, you don’t have to take frequent water breaks. Moreover, hydrated skin tends to ink more easily and faster. 

3. Plan with your tattoo artist

Discuss the design, size, complexity, and placement of your tattoo with the tattoo artist ahead of time. The artist can also advise on what to do for faster healing(2). 

How To Prepare For The Pain Of A Tattoo?

4. Wear comfortable clothes

You will have to remain at the tattoo studio for a couple of hours. It is a good idea to wear a comfortable outfit. Remember, whatever clothes you wear, they must give the tattoo artist easy access to the body part you want to get tattooed. 

5. Select a tattoo artist wisely

You must find a tattoo artist who understands your ideas and follows the rules. It is also vital to ensure that the artist uses clean equipment and fresh needles every time. Besides, check the tattoo artist’s certification.

6. Avoid blood-thinning medication and alcohol

Medicines like aspirin and alcohol thin out the blood. If the blood is thin, it increases your chances of bleeding. So, if you are under the influence of alcohol or specific medicines, even a small tattoo will bleed profusely. 

7. Don’t get a tattoo if you’re sick

If you have a fever or a cold, avoid getting a tattoo. The risk of infection is higher when you are not healthy. The healing process also gets delayed. 

How To Reduce Tattoo Pain?

There are some tips to minimize tattoo pain.

  • Request your tattoo artist to take breaks if it becomes difficult for you to bear the pain. 
  • Get sufficient sleep the previous night. If you’ve slept well before a tattoo, it becomes easier for you to endure the pain. 
  • Use a numbing product on the area you plan to get a tattoo to minimize the amount of pain you experience.
  • Follow tattoo aftercare instructions. Apply moisturizer and ointment to reduce pain and avoid any complications after the tattoo is completed. Wash your tattoo carefully, and wear loose-fitted clothes to prevent them from rubbing against the tattoo. 
  • Avoid touching or scratching the wound.


We won’t lie – getting a tattoo is painful. The level of pain differs for each person based on their pain tolerance, and other factors like skin sensitivity, tattoo placement, size and complexity of the design, and the tattoo artist’s technique. The most painful places to get a tattoo for a girl are the rib cage, armpit, breast and chest, spine, ankles, neck, spine, groin area, hands, fingers, toes, feet, hips, head, face, ears, lips, stomach, and more. 

To reduce tattoo pain, remember to eat well, stay hydrated, use a numbing cream, avoid alcohol or blood-thinning medication, wear comfortable clothes, and most importantly, pick a certified and experienced tattoo artist. Prioritizing aftercare can also ensure that your new body art heals painlessly and beautifully. 

Tattoos are classy additions to one’s aesthetic persona. They help you capture the beauty in your life, whether it is to remember great memories, commemorate important events in your life, or simply experiment. A tattoo is a true and lasting expression of who you are. So, don’t let the fear of pain hold you back; find the perfect design and a professional tattoo artist to get yourself inked!

  1. National Library Of Medicine. (2020). Gender Differences in Subjective Pain Perception during and after Tattooing. (Online). Available at
  2. Santos, M.L., & Villafranca, M.R. (2019). The Art in Pain on Becoming A Tattooed Person: A Grounded Theory. (Online). Available at

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Gayatri is a writer who specializes in hair care, styling tips, skincare routines and latest health trends. Her expertise comes from professional training, extensive research, and a continuous quest for the latest trends and innovations. I believe that beauty and well-being are interconnected, and I aim to provide readers with holistic advice

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