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Tattoo Pain-O-Meter

Tattoo Pain-O-Meter
23 Mar, 2022

Tattoo Pain-O-Meter

We can get tattoos just about anywhere on our body, as long as there's some skin available. If you're not too spooked by needles and ink, pretty much any spot is a fair game!

One of the most frequent questions people ask when it comes to tattoos is whether getting a tattoo hurts or not. The answer to this question is admittedly complicated, as everyone experiences pain differently. However, what can generally be said is that tattoos are bound to be at least a little bit painful because the process involves repeatedly piercing the skin with a sharp needle covered with ink.

The different parts of the body experience different levels of pain. Some areas can be more sensitive to pain than others. The process may also be more or less painful depending on the location of the tattoo and the person’s body sensitivity.

In this blog, we will provide a classified list of areas of the human body from most to least sensitive to tattoo pain.

There is no scientific evidence that can say for certain which areas of the body feel more or less pain when getting a tattoo. However, experts agree that the least painful places to get inked are usually those with more fat, fewest nerve endings, and thicker skin. Conversely, the most painful places to receive tattoos are typically those with less fat, more nerve endings, and thinner skin. Areas with bones tend to be particularly sensitive.


Most Painful Areas

The armpits

Although armpit tattoos are not very common, the armpits are considered to be one of the most painful areas on the human body to get a tattoo. The tenderness of the skin in this area can make for an excruciating and extremely painful experience when getting inked. The axillary nerve is located in the armpits as well as many glands this area is highly sensitive so If you're thinking of getting a tattoo on your armpit, think again! Most tattoo artists strongly advise against it.

The rib cage

The thorax might be the second most painful area one can consider getting inked. The skin around the ribs is very thin and delicate, and usually has less fat than most areas of the body, therefore getting a tattoo there will be an extremely stinging since the tattoo machine can go as deep as hitting your bones directly with each pass. In addition, every time you take a breath, your ribs might move and intensify the sensation making the process even more painful.

The chest (nipples and breasts)

The chest area is very sensitive and tender. Chest tattoos can be very painful in general even though they are quite popular.

The stomach

Pain associated with stomach tattoos can range from moderate to severe. According to your body type, the level of pain you experience will vary. Those with higher body weights tend to have looser skin on their stomachs than those with lower body weights. Skin that is tighter over the stomach is likely to cause less pain than skin that is loose.

The head, forehead, and back of the head

The head, face, and ears contain many nerve endings that can be stimulated during the process. Getting a face tattoo could be extremely agonizing and racking as the face mostly lacks a thick layer of adipose tissue under the skin, so the needles will be rubbing against the skull.

Neck and spine

If you're considering getting a neck or spine tattoo, be prepared for some serious pain. These are two of the most sensitive areas on the body, you'll definitely feel the needle going in!

The groin

When considering where to get a tattoo, it is important to think about the various possible locations and the pain levels associated with them. One area that may be less than ideal to get inked is the groin, as this area is extremely sensitive because of the important number of nerve endings present there. While some people may find this location appealing due to its perceived exoticism or intimacy, it is important to keep in mind that there are potential downsides to getting a tattoo here.

Elbows and knees

Elbows and knees, just like the ribs, are made up of bones with a thin and delicate layer of skin on top. Thus, getting a tattoo on the elbow region can be unbearable. Also, the vibrations caused by the tattoo machine over the elbow bones can cause even more discomfort.

Behind the knees and the antecubital (anterior surface of the elbow)

This is another area you might want to avoid while getting a tattoo. This area is made of loose elastic thin skin with tons of nerve endings and is highly sensitive to needles.


The nerves in your palms may be under severe stress when disturbed by a tattoo needle, resulting in painful spasms which make the tattooing process extremely uncomfortable.


If you’re thin and don’t have enough fat covering the hip region, getting a hip tattoo can be severely painful since the hip bones lie directly underneath your skin.

The lips

The skin covering the lips is very thin and contains a lot of nerve endings and sensory receptors hence lip tattoos can be very painful too.

Shins and ankles

Despite being very famous, shin and ankle tattoos can be as painful as rib tattoos. The skin covering both the skin and ankles is very thin, making it easy for the needle to reach the underlying bones and muscles. These areas are particularly sensitive and can be quite painful to ink.


Least Painful Areas

The thighs

The outer upper thighs have enough subcutaneous fat to protect the bones and very few sensory receptors, making them one of the least painful areas to get a tattoo.


The forearms are thick and muscular, with few nerve endings. Pain from forearm tattoos is usually low to low-moderate.

Outer shoulders

Getting a tattoo on the outer part of the shoulders is generally not too painful because the skin there is thick and contains few nerve endings. A tattoo here usually causes low-moderate pain.

Outer bicep

With a lot of muscle and a few nerve endings on the outer bicep, the biceps make for a good spot for a tattoo that won't cause much pain.


As the calves contain a considerable amount of fat and muscle and relatively not too many nerve endings, calf tattoos aren’t very painful. Here, you can expect to experience mild-to-low-moderate pain.

Upper and lower back

The skin on your upper or lower back is thick with few nerve endings, so getting a tattoo here often causes low-moderate to moderate pain. In general, when the back tattoo is located far from the bones and nerve endings in your spine and hips, you'll experience less pain.


Tattoos are almost always painful for everyone. There are factors affecting the levels of pain you might experience when getting a tattoo, such as your sex or weight but most importantly the desired location of the ink. So before considering getting a tattoo you should be well aware of the pain that you might experience. And if you’re too squeamish about needles it’s best advised to pick one area that isn’t too sensitive.

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