Tattooing Pain Areas Chart, Rating and Factors

It’s finally time to convey how much of a bad ass you are but the leather jacket and motorcycle doesn’t quite capture your badass-ness in all its glory. So, you decide a tattoo might just do the trick, yeah?

Do tattoos hurt?

Then there is the question, do tattoos hurt? Is tattooing painful? Yes, they definitely hurt! But the pain is different for each person depending on some factors.

Okay, tattoos are indisputably not for everyone and it will definitely hurt. However, maybe you should consider the areas of your body that least hurt and avoiding the most sensitive areas.

Tattoo pain areas

Granted, all of them hurt. Considering your skin is getting jabbed with 1-20 needles within a microsecond, over and over and over again in one sitting.

Tattoo pain areas - courtesy of
Pain areas


Having said that, all tattoos hurt but not equally. You can easily determine the areas of your body that are more sensitive to pain and those that are not using a pain chart or tattoo pain scale.

This chart from clearly indicates the areas that are more likely to hurt the most and those that are at least bearable using color; yellow being the least painful while purple being agonizingly painful.

Pain scale ratings

Rating 1:  yellow.

Areas such as the forearm, upper arm, calf, butt, and thighs are great areas for getting the first tattoo.

Rating 2: orange.

These areas include the front and/or side, and the center back of the thighs and shoulders. These areas are good for getting your first one also: However, the skin here is loose, therefore, takes longer to tattoo and heal.

Additionally, due to the dense muscle mass and skin tightness, these areas are prone to movement and bruising easily hence requires more care after it has been completed.

Rating 3: red.

These are highly sensitive areas which require a whole lot of mental focus to get through the process. These areas include elbows, hands, neck, chest, knees, head, feet and back of thighs.

Additionally, areas such as the elbows and knees have poor skin quality, a lot of movement and the close proximity of nerve cells to the surface hence will be tattooed very slowly, the pain can get very painful and usually requires a longer tattoo healing time.

Rating 4: purple.

The hips, stomach, armpit, nipples, lips, genitals, ribcage, back of knees and inside of elbows and thighs are the most horrifyingly painful places/spots to get a tattoo. The pain in these areas can provoke someone to cry, pass out or even just walk out with a half-done tattoo.

Due to the stretchy, thin skin covering the bone structure in these areas, getting it here is usually slow and may require more than one session in order to get a solid color and a smooth shading.

The tattoo healing process may just be as excruciatingly painful as getting the tattoo itself to the extent of interfering with your daily activities.

Factors that contribute to tattoo pain

As mentioned earlier, there are factors that affect the intensity of pain you will experience.

The style you choose

The styles often vary and each style has a particular design. For instance, a portrait tattoo requires a lot of shading meaning the artist will most likely incorporate several different needle types as compared to an outline work.

However, the pain experienced with an outline tattoo-requires fewer needles in the gun, will be different as compared to that one that involves a lot of shading e.g. a portrait-requires more needles in the gun at the same time and also the technique used here involves a lot of shading to cover a larger surface area in a single stroke.

Artist style and skill set

Each and every artist has their own specific style- some artists are pretty fast while others are slow, gentle while others can be very rough.

All these styles will have different implications on the pain level on the person being tattooed. Indisputably, a slow gently style will take longer to complete the work and probably cause lesser pain as compared to a rough, quick tattooing style-faster hence completes the work sooner but the pain will be more intense for a shorter period of time.

Mental state

The human mind is quite powerful, unique and fathomless. The phrase “mind over matter” plays a really big role when it comes to getting one.

If you plan to get it and your mindset is stuck on ‘will probably hurt like hell,’ chances that you will walk out of the parlor with a half-done tattoo is very high. But if you pre-condition your mind with a can-do attitude, you will definitely persevere through the procedure and actually be able to get through it because you have mentally prepared yourself for the pain.

Physical health

Depending on your current health status, a lower immune system increases the susceptibility of contracting infections as well as the intensity of pain.

Illnesses and diseases cause the central nervous system and the body’s pain receptors to be under increased strain, tattoo pain simply increases the strain on these body’s immune system during this period of time.

Hence, it’s advisable to wait out your illness until full recuperation is achieved, especially if it’s a short-term illness. However, if you are suffering from a long-term illness, simply consult a medical practitioner prior to getting it to avoid any further complications.

Pain threshold

Each and every person has a different pain threshold. While some people may be able to withstand hours and hours of pain others just require half an hour before they reach their pain limit.


Resting prior to your appointment is very important. Lack of proper rest actually dictates the amount of pain you are most likely to endure as you undergo the process. Being all rested and relaxed prepares your body for any vigorous activity inclusive of being tattooed.

Being under the influence alcohol or drugs

It’s a common misconception that indulging in alcohol or drugs reduces the amount of pain endured during the session.

In the real sense, alcohol and drugs actually intensify the sensitivity of the pain receptors- thus making the whole experience even worse.

Majority of tattoo studios actually refuse to work on people who seem to be clearly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Tattoo spot or placement

As discussed earlier, pain varies depending on the place of the body. Normally, the fatty, fleshy areas of the body are the least painful while the spots with thin-layered skin and bony areas being the most painful.

Tips to consider before getting a tattoo

  • Drink plenty of fluids and eat a wholesome meal prior to the process
  • Get plenty of rest before your appointment.
  • Pre-plan your outfit choices in consideration of where you will get it two-weeks in advance before your tattoo appointment. This is to ensure that it will have adequate room to properly heal, the trick is to find comfortable clothing that doesn’t get into contact with the tattooed spots as this can worsen symptoms such as tattoo peelingitchiness, experienced.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure or tanning beds may dry out the skin, at least a week before getting tattooed to avoid damaging it.
  • Apply lotion on a daily basis prior to your tattoo appointment to ensure you have a healthy skin and also to get the best outcome.
  • Ask about aftercare products that will probably be needed.
  • Mention allergies if you have any pigments, perfumes and/or dyes.
  • If you are on any medication, it’s important to consult your doctor before getting a tattoo, as some of these medicines thin your blood.
  • Additionally, if you suffer from an autoimmune disorder, it’s important to consult your doctor before getting tattooed.

It is important to ensure you go to someone experienced. Ensure you are also not anxious as this will only worsen teh pain you may end up experiencing.



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