Tattoos: How Much Do They Really Hurt?

Is Getting a Tattoo Safe?

Tattoo Pain Thresholds |

Getting a tattoo involves an ink-filled needle repeatedly puncturing your skin. Consequently, it’s not unusual to wonder how much pain you should expect when considering a tattoo.  

As it turns out, pain is a highly subjective experience, and how much discomfort you feel while getting tattooed can depend on a couple of factors including your biological sex, pain tolerance, and most importantly — the area of your body getting tattooed.  Most of the data on tattoos and pain is anecdotal, but some general rules apply. 

Generally Less Painful |
Generally getting a tattoo on fleshy areas like the outer thigh is less sensitive to pain.

Generally More Painful |
Tattooing the more “Bony” Parts of the body such as the ribs or hands tend to be more sensitive

The experience of getting a tattoo can be different for everyone, and the level of pain experienced can vary depending on factors such as the size, location, and complexity of the tattoo design, as well as individual pain tolerance. However, it is generally agreed upon that getting a tattoo involves some level of discomfort or pain.

The sensation of getting a tattoo is often described as a scratching or burning sensation, as the needle used to create the tattoo punctures the skin and injects ink into the dermis, the layer of skin beneath the epidermis. Some people describe the pain as similar to a sunburn or a deep bruise, while others compare it to being repeatedly snapped with a rubber band.

The level of pain can also depend on the location of the tattoo on the body. Areas with thinner skin and less muscle, such as the wrist, ankle, or ribcage, are often more sensitive and may be more painful to tattoo than areas with thicker skin and more muscle, such as the upper arm or thigh.

Additionally, some people may experience more pain during the tattooing process due to individual factors such as anxiety, fatigue, or hormonal changes. If you are feeling particularly anxious or nervous about getting a tattoo, it is important to communicate this with your tattoo artist so they can help make you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

However, it is worth noting that while tattoos can be uncomfortable or painful to some extent, many people find the experience to be manageable and even enjoyable. The end result of a well-done tattoo can be a source of pride and personal expression, and many people find the process of getting a tattoo to be a positive and rewarding experience- There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to how much pain you’ll feel when getting tattooed. But if you’re wondering what type of pain to expect, the experience is comparable to the feeling of a cat scratch or a sunburn. 


Caring for a new tattoo is essential to ensure proper healing and to maintain the quality and appearance of the tattoo over time. Here are some guidelines for taking care of a new tattoo:

  1. Keep the tattoo clean: It is essential to keep the tattoo clean to prevent infection and promote healing. Wash the tattoo gently with lukewarm water and a mild soap or cleanser, avoiding scrubbing or rubbing the area. Use a clean, soft towel to gently pat the area dry.

  2. Apply aftercare products: Apply a thin layer of aftercare products, such as a mild lotion or ointment, to keep the tattoo moisturized and promote healing. Follow the instructions provided by the tattoo artist or a medical professional, as the type and frequency of application may vary depending on the tattoo and skin type.

  3. Avoid exposure to water: For the first few days after getting a tattoo, avoid soaking the area in water, such as in a bath or swimming pool, and avoid long, hot showers. Exposure to water can soften the scabs and cause the ink to bleed or fade, which may result in a less vibrant tattoo.

  4. Avoid exposure to the sun: Protect the tattoo from direct sunlight and tanning beds for at least four weeks after getting the tattoo. Exposure to UV rays can cause the ink to fade or change color over time.

  5. Avoid tight clothing: Avoid tight clothing or clothing that may rub against the tattoo, as this can cause irritation or damage to the skin.

  6. Avoid picking or scratching: It is essential to avoid picking or scratching the scabs that may form on the tattooed area. This can cause scarring or infection and may result in a less attractive tattoo.

  7. Be patient: The healing process for a tattoo can take several weeks, and it is essential to be patient and avoid rushing the healing process. Follow the aftercare instructions provided by the tattoo artist or a medical professional, and allow the skin to heal naturally.

Taking care of a new tattoo requires proper cleaning, moisturizing, and protection from water, sunlight, and tight clothing. Additionally, it is essential to avoid picking or scratching the tattoo and to be patient during the healing process. Following these guidelines can help ensure a vibrant and long-lasting tattoo. If you experience any unusual pain, swelling, or other symptoms, consult a medical professional or the tattoo artist for guidance.