29 Most Painful Places to Get a Tattoo

most painful tattoos

Whether you’re having your first tattoo or your 20th tattoo, it’s likely that you’ll be worried about the pain of getting it done.

But, did you know that not all tattoos hurt the same amount? Some parts of the body are tougher to tattoo than others, and the pain can vary from a slight sting to take-your-breath-away soreness.

Does every tattoo hurt?

Unfortunately, yes, every tattoo will hurt at least a little bit. Between one and 20 needles will pierce your skin thousands of times during a session, and there’s no way that’s not going to sting. At first, the pain will most likely feel very intense and if it’s your first time you’ll probably want to stop, but after a few minutes your adrenaline will kick in and the pain will become duller.

Everybody will experience slightly different sensations when they’re getting a tattoo, so if it’s your first one it’s a good idea to get a small piece so you can see how your body reacts to the pain. If it’s excruciating, it would be highly unpleasant to have to be tattooed for more than one hour.

It’s also worth noting that a tattoo can hurt more with an inexperienced artist. They might be more likely to push the needle deeper into a lower than necessary layer of skin, which will intensify the pain. If you’re worried, seek out someone with experience.

Where are the least painful places to be tattooed?

First, the good news: there are plenty of parts of the body that are less sensitive than others, so they’ll hurt less during a tattoo session. This is because they either have more fleshy tissue and fat covering the bone, or they have less sensitive nerve endings close to the surface of the skin. You’re less likely to feel extreme pain while getting tattooed in one of the following places, so they’re popular with people getting tattooed for the first time.

Front of thighs


Outer thighs

Outer biceps

Upper back



Lower back

Inner wrists

Where are the most painful places to be tattooed?

The following areas are usually the most sensitive for tattooing, so it’s likely that you’ll experience more pain in these places than others. They all have thin skin covering the bone or a lot of nerve endings just below the skin’s surface, and that can make it tough to sit through a long session.

Lower chest



Inner biceps

Inner elbows

Back of knees




Tops of feet


Outer elbows




Front of knees





​​What does the pain feel like?

The pain of a tattoo is an intense scratching sensation. If you drag your nail across your skin with a good level of pressure, this will give you an idea of what to expect. There might also be a stinging sensation when there’s a lower needle count in the tattoo gun. When the tattoo is being outlined, or fine detail is being added, you’ll be more aware of the needle penetrating your skin and it can feel more intense than when the tattoo is being shaded with a higher needle count.

If the tattoo is in a bony place like wrists or tops of feet, there’ll also be a sensation that feels like the bone is being tapped. Some people find tit to be quite unpleasant, whereas others aren’t bothered by it.

After the tattoo is finished the area will feel sore and might be swollen for a few hours. There may even be a little bit of bruising depending on the tattoo and the placement, but it should be manageable. If not, take painkillers, and if the pain persists for more than one or two days go back to your tattoo artist to get it checked.

What can you do to reduce the pain?

If you’re really worried about how much your tattoo is going to hurt, there are measures you can take to make the process more comfortable.

Numbing creams and sprays can be really effective in lessening how much a tattoo hurts. Just apply the cream shortly before your session and you won’t be able to feel the sensation as strongly.

You can also try listening to music or watching TV to distract you from the pain, so take headphones and load your cell phone with your favorite songs and shows.

What you eat will make a difference in how much your tattoo hurts, so have a wholesome meal before your session. Take snacks with you too to keep your sugar levels up while you’re getting the tattoo. Avoid alcohol for 24 hours before the tattoo, too, as this can increase bleeding and your tattooist will have to work harder to get the ink into your skin.

If you need to take a break because the pain is too much, or because your position is uncomfortable, ask your tattoo artist for a break. Getting up and stretching your legs, or readjusting your position can make a big difference to your pain tolerance.

And finally, a positive attitude can actually help manage the pain when it kicks in, so remember to take deep breaths and focus on the end results.


Everyone perceives pain differently, so your level of discomfort will vary from other people. You might also find it easy getting tattooed in one of the most painful places, and instead, you might find it tough to sit through a session on one of the less sensitive areas. Just remember that no matter how much it hurts, it’ll be worth it for your beautiful new tattoo.

Do you have tattoos? Where was the most painful area for you? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

John Thatch

John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

Leave a comment: