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If you’re scared of tattoo pain and curious about the most painful places to get a tattoo, we’ve compiled a list of the worst spots to get tattooed. Tattoos are notorious for being painful, but some spots on the body may hurt more than others. Although everyone has different levels of pain tolerance, there are common sensitive areas where getting a tattoo will be more unpleasant.

And while some pain with a tattoo is inevitable, knowing where on your body a needle will hurt most and choosing a good spot for your tattoo can help reduce this pain significantly. Here are the least and most painful spots to get a tattoo.

Most Painful Places To Get A Tattoo

Tattoo Pain Chart

Tattoo pain areas are generally found around parts where men and women have thin skin and nerve endings that are located directly over bones. The worst places include the ribs, elbow, spine, knee, armpit, foot, ankle, sternum, inner bicep, neck, throat, hand, finger, collarbone, head, and inner thigh. If you’re getting your first tattoo, we recommend a fleshier spot such as the arm, upper back, shoulder, forearm, or chest.

Check out this tattoo pain chart to see a diagram of your body with the least and most painful spots. The pain scale will also give you an idea of just how much a body part will hurt compared to other locations.

Tattoo Pain Chart

Just remember that tattoo pain is very subjective. Since pain levels are specific to individual men and women, and can be impacted by injuries, surgeries, muscle definition, size and general tolerance, it’s critical that you gauge how bad a tattoo will hurt based on your own previous experiences with pain and soreness.

Most Painful Tattoo Spots

Ribs

The ribs are one of the most painful places to get a tattoo since you don’t have much skin, muscle or fat in the area. Plus, the reverberations of the needle on your rib cage and bones can cause a lot of discomfort.

Furthermore, your rib cage moves with every breath, causing the pain to be more intense due to this continuous movement. Rib tattoo pain can be even more severe if your ribs are prominent or you have little abdominal fat. Overall, most people reported that rib tattoos hurt pretty bad relative to other sensitive spots.

Rib Tattoo Pain

Elbow

Elbow tattoo pain resembles the ribs. The skin of your elbow is incredibly thin, sits directly on top of bone, and comes with sensitive nerve endings that will shoot pain down your arm with the wrong touch. The issue is exacerbated because there is no fat or cartilage to act as a cushion. And when the vibration of the tattoo needle goes over bone, it causes sharp discomfort similar to when you hit your “funny bone”. The inner elbow is a very sensitive spot as well.

Elbow Tattoo Pain

Spine

While most of the back may be one of the least painful areas to get tattooed, the spine is incredibly sensitive. Spine tattoos hurt because the vertebrae are very close to the skin. However, what makes spine tattoo pain worse is the nerves that run up and down your entire spinal cord. Combined with the movements of the tattoo needle directly on the vertebrae, the spine heightens the level of pain.

Spine Tattoo Pain

Knees

Whether you get a tattoo on the front of the knee or the back, knee tattoo pain can be excruciating. On the front, the sensation is similar to that of an elbow tattoo, as the skin is thin and right on top of bone. Regardless of whether you choose the outer or inner kneecap area, the experience will be agonizing. For the back of the knee, the skin is soft and full of nerves, making it a sensitive area. In addition to the pain, knee tattoos take longer to heal because of the constant movement.

Knee Tattoo Pain

Armpit

Many have said that the armpit is the most painful place to get a tattoo. Just like the back of the knee, this is a very soft and sensitive area with many nerve endings and glands. While the rest of the arm is fleshy with tough skin, armpit tattoo pain is quite extreme. If you’re quite ticklish, then this tattoo area is not for you and a needle will make it unbearable to go through a session.

Armpit Tattoo Pain

Feet

Feet tattoos are known for being bad locations. The top of the foot is especially sensitive since there are large groups of nerves that can cause shooting pain during a tattoo session. Moreover, the skin on the top of the foot is incredibly lean, which means that the needle’s movements will directly vibration on your bone.

Foot Tattoo Pain

Ankle

Ankle tattoo pain is said to be super intense. With very little skin and the ankle bone right below the surface, ankle tattoos hurt very badly. Like many other tattoo spots, the vibrations from the needle radiate into the ankle bone, which may even travel up your shin bone. If you’ve ever banged your ankle or elbow, imagine that discomfort for hours while getting inked.

Ankle Tattoo Pain

Sternum

Pain in your sternum is likely if you’re getting a full chest tattoo. Sternum tattoo pain originates from the very thin skin and thick bone below the surface. If you’re skinny or bony, the area can be extremely sensitive to tattooing. Chest tattoos for women can be particularly painful around the nipple and delicate spots. Like a rib tattoo, breathing may also increase the pain levels as your lungs are in close proximity. While chest tattoo pain is not that bad, beware of tattooing the collarbone, sternum, and nipple.

Sternum Tattoo Pain

Inner Bicep

Inner bicep tattoo pain varies based on how much muscle you have. But the skin on your inner arm is very soft and your muscles can get tender after being poked with a needle for hours, thereby increasing pain levels. An inside bicep tattoo also takes longer to heal than other tattoo places. Overall, arm tattoo pain is bearable, making it a popular spot for guys and girls.

Inner Bicep Tattoo Pain

Neck

Neck tattoos can be incredibly painful, as there are large nerves all along the bottom and sides of the neck that can be irritated by the tattooing process. Pain may even radiate from these nerves into your back and shoulder. It’s also noteworthy to mention that some people may have an adverse reaction to sustained pressure on their neck. If you have a low level of pain tolerance, a neck tattoo may not be for you.

Neck Tattoo Pain

Throat

Throat tattoos can be insane to endure. With important nerve endings here and an extremely thin layer of skin, throat tattoo pain can hurt more than you’d expect. As a sensitive area, we’d recommend a back of the neck tattoo instead.

Throat Tattoo Pain

Hands

Hand tattoos are incredibly popular, but they definitely hurt. Hand tattoo pain stems from the fact that the skin there is thin and sensitive, the needle will be hitting bone throughout the session, and there are a number of muscles and ligaments to make it more painful. While the top of the hand is pretty bad, the palm is an especially sore spot as it contains many nerve endings that cause spasms when tattooed over.

Hand Tattoo Pain

Fingers

Finger tattoos are also painful due to the thinness of the skin and proximity to the bone. Besides, it is tough for tattoo artists to get straight, clean lines on such a small and curved surface, making finger and hand tattoos difficult as well as excruciating. With little to buffer the discomfort, finger tattoo pain can feel acute.

Finger Tattoo Pain

Wrist

Wrist tattoos hurt pretty badly and are very high on the pain scale. While tattooing the top of the wrist may be tolerable for some, wrist tattoo pain can be extreme on the inside. The inside of the wrist has very little fat and therefore thin skin, accompanied by many nerve endings and veins.

Wrist Tattoo Pain

Collarbone

The collarbone is obviously very bony with sensitive thin skin, making it a painful location for a tattoo. There is little to no cushion, meaning you’ll feel all the vibrations of the needle as it pokes your skin and hits bone.

Collarbone Tattoo Pain

Head

Head tattoo pain can be very intense, as there is not much cushion between skin and bone. Head tattoos can range from traditional face tattoos to permanent makeup, and the pain varies based on what you are getting done, the size of the artwork, and the area of your head or face you have chosen to ink. What makes a head tattoo hurt even more is the psychological aspect of hearing the vibrations on your head, which can also cause a headache for hours.

Head Tattoo Pain

Lip

Lip tattoos are known to be painful due to the abundance of nerves in the lips. This area is also prone to bleed and swell during and after a tattoo session, so men and women should proceed with caution. Other than the obvious reasons, crazy lip tattoo pain may also explain why most people choose small and simple designs there.

Lip Tattoo Pain

Ear

Ear tattoos are also painful, as there is no cushion to absorb the pain. Whether you’re getting a tattoo behind the ear or considering ink inside, the idea of having your cartilage pierced over and over again for an entire tattoo session can seem demented.

Ear Tattoo Pain

Inner Thigh

Thigh tattoo pain is deceivingly bad. While the inner thigh is fleshy with good amounts of muscle and fat, it is surprisingly one of the worst spots to get a tattoo. Sensitive and soft, tattoos on the inside and outer thigh can also take time to heal because of the constant rubbing against your clothes and other leg.

Inner Thigh Tattoo Pain

Calf

A calf tattoo can be hit or miss in terms of how much it will hurt. Away from the shin bone and on the side of your calf muscle can be a great place for a tattoo. The few nerve endings and thicker skin can be helpful in minimizing the pain. But the back of the calf can be one of the worst. The calf is sensitive with tender skin, and calf tattoo pain can be considerable depending on the size of your design, especially if it extends from the back of your knee down to your ankle.

Calf Tattoo Pain

Shin

Like the calf, shin tattoos are not fun. The skin is very thin and any artwork will sit right on top of your bone, causing those painful vibrations from the needle to shoot up your leg.

Shin Tattoo Pain

Least Painful Places To Get A Tattoo

The most popular tattoo spots for men generally tend to be the least painful places to get ink. For instance, most guys report that back, forearm, shoulder, chest, and arm tattoo pain are among the more bearable body parts. With plenty of fatty flesh to absorb the vibrations and minimize discomfort, men’s tattoos in these areas hurt the least.

Shoulder

Overall, the best place to get a tattoo that won’t hurt is the shoulder. With nerves that aren’t that sensitive, thick skin, and more muscle to cushion the pain, the shoulder is the least painful area for tattoos.

Shoulder Tattoo Pain

Forearm

Forearm tattoo pain is relatively low compared to other locations on your body. With tough skin, less nerve endings, and more muscle and fat to mitigate the reverberations of the needle’s movement, arm tattoos don’t hurt as bad.

Forearm Tattoo Pain

It is essential to keep your pain tolerance in mind when choosing a spot for your next tattoo. You wouldn’t want to sit down for a session, not be able to handle the pain and leave with half-finished ink. Know your body and mind, and make decisions accordingly.

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