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The ten most painful places for tattoo.

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

The ten most painful places for tattoo, Tattoo placement, Tattoo guide, Hammersmith Tattoo London
The ten most painful places for tattoo

There’s no way around it, all tattoos hurt! However, certain areas generally hurt more than others. These are the ten most painful places to get a tattoo.

Head Tattoos

Although everyone has different thresholds of pain for various tattoo spots, the head is universally known to be the most painful place to get a tattoo for many people. Much like other areas which are known for being especially painful for getting tattoos, the head has a low fat, muscle, and skin content. Because of this, there is a very small protective layer between the artist’s needle and the customer’s skull. Tattoos in areas where the artist works close to bone, such as a skull, tend to be quite painful. The Ophthalmic division of the Trigeminal nerve is a nerve on the head which conveys sensory information from the scalp and forehead to the brain. Since the trigeminal nerve is located on the head, this area is especially sensitive to tattooing. Lastly, many people claim that the most painful part of getting a head tattoo is not actually the physical pain. Instead, a large amount of the pain is mental since the vibrations and noises the head experiences when getting a tattoo on the head often becomes undeniably unbearable.

Face Tattoos

Much like the head, the face is also a particularly painful area to get tattooed. Due to the proximity of the skin to the bone and the high density of nerves in the area, the tattoo machine can cause serious amounts of pain, especially in the forehead and the bridge of the nose. Additionally, the reverberations of the machine can cause mental discomfort that makes the situation difficult to combat.

Foot Tattoos

The foot is definitely among the top ten most painful places to get a tattoo. The foot has a very low fat and muscle content and a thinner skin barrier. The tattoo artist’s needle operates close to the bone making the foot quite painful when getting it tattooed. Another reason the foot is a painful place to get a tattoo is because the skin on the foot does not take ink as well as other body parts. Since the ink does not stick to skin effectively, the artist can sometimes forced to go over the design on exposed flesh on an already sensitive area.

Ankle Tattoos

The ankles are covered by a very thin layer of skin which makes it difficult for an artist to apply the ink. Obviously, the ankle is also a boney area for many people which adds to the sensitivity of this body part. It can be very painful!

Hand Tattoos

Much like feet, hands are also notoriously painful when it comes to tattooing since, like all the other spots we’ve pointed out, there is a low fat, muscle, and skin content in the area. Also, since you need your hands and fingers to be more sensitive to the sensation of touch, there are many nerve endings here. Fingers and palms tend to be the most painful body area to get tattooed on the hands, and since both areas experience a lot of use, tattoo artists may have to do touch ups in the future.

Rib Cage Tattoos

Moving away from the extremities and into the center of the body, the rib cage proves to be an attractive place to be tattooed. If you really want to test your pain tolerance and restraint, get yourself a rib cage tattoo. Much like the other body parts, problems involving low fat, muscle, skin, and being close to the bone arise when tattooing this area. On top of sharing many of the other characteristics that make a tattoo painful, the rib cage area also has a high amount of nerves. There’s also the added difficulty for the artist, since this area will experience movement while breathing. The combination of these unique characteristics makes the rib cage one of the ten most painful places to get a tattoo.

Sternum Tattoos

The sternum acts, in most respects, much like the rib cage in terms of painfulness to be tattooed. There is the aspect of having a low amount of fat for padding, the bone is protruding, there is a high amount of nerves, and there is a lot of movement due to breathing. Many people also experience an uncomfortable amount of noise and vibration from having their sternum tattooed.

Elbow Tattoos

The elbow can be somewhat of a gamble. Some people feel a lot of pain and others would disagree. There are some things that hint at this area being very painful, and difficult to heal since there is the joint that allows the arm to move compressing and expanding the skin, stressing the wound. Additionally it is very close to the bone. It’s known to be very painful, but our advice is to just remember the last time you hit your elbow on something. If it hurt, multiply that by ten and then think about how that would feel for the hour it may take to tattoo it.

Butt Cheek Tattoos

Even though the buttocks have a proper layer of fat, muscle, and skin padding, it is a well known phenomenon that tattoos in this area are still painful. This is due to the fact that there are around 2500 nerve endings in each cheek. However, it’s not just all those nerve endings that causes pain...the healing process can be very difficult since, obviously, this is an area you use often!

Inner Thigh Tattoos

Although the inner thighs do not have the same characteristics as other parts of the body, getting a tattoo in this can be very painful because the skin in this area tends to be very sensitive, additionally tends to cause friction with clothes (pants, underwear,etc) causing the healing to be more tedious and probably longer. Bear in mind that this area is a very private and usually people experience some mental discomfort while getting tattooed.

BONUS: Genital Tattoos

If you’re not into intense pain, this area should be avoided at all costs. It is extremely sensitive and the pain would be unbearable for most who try it. It is the most painful place to get tattooed by a long shot. The genitals are especially populated with thin nerve membranes causing the skin to be very sensitive. Additionally the weeks after of the tattoo session can be a nightmare in terms of taking care of the piece.

We hope that now you have an idea of which areas are the most painful to get tattooed! There are definitely products out there that you can use to help deal with the pain but remember that tattoos are a great way to express ourselves so don’t let a passing moment of pain exclude you from a lifetime of joy!



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