Tattoos have been known for years as the most common body decoration across the world. Although getting inked is not everyone’s interest, several people still possess a great obsession with ink-filled needles, which is why a tattoo pain chart is necessary for their reference.
A research study carried out nearly a decade ago showed that tattoos are commonplace amongst young adults and teenage people. Almost 40 per cent of people whose age range from 18-29 years old have said that they have already gotten at least one tiny tattoo on their bodies.
From the 10-year-ago study, it can be seen that young people are getting more and more excited about tattoos. They have a close eye on new tattoo ideas and embrace the tattoo culture, which has been practised for years.
However, newcomers to tattoo culture have continuously wondered: “Does it hurt when getting tattooed?”. The answer to this complex question is to brace yourself for some pain as tattoos hurt.
This article will provide you with a quick rundown of the tattoo pain chart and some of the most (least) painful places to get a tattoo, even a tiny one. In addition, you will stumble across several essential tips on minimising the pain after allowing the ink-filled needles to puncture your skin, alongside a set of advice to take on board.
How Does It Feel Like To Get A Tattoo (5 Types Of Pain)
Several people who have already experienced getting tattooed would agree to some extent that tattoos hurt our bodies. Nevertheless, the pain level would vary significantly due to the person’s pain threshold and the region where the tattoos are inked.
Although medical scientists have not proved this, most tattoo enthusiasts would be adamant that some tattoo pains can cause us to feel uncomfortable when getting inked. That’s why it is necessary to be aware of these sensations.
By familiarising yourself with these commonly-felt sensations beforehand can give you a glimpse of how to recognise them and tell the pains apart. Here is a list of common sorts of tattoo pain that you may suffer when getting tattooed.
This is known to be the most common pain that most people might have suffered at least a few times in their lives.
The sensation feels as though you have touched a smokingly hot frying pan with your bare hands and left them there for an extended period. The skin turns out to be irritated by the heat emission from the pan.
Similarly, you would possibly feel a burning sensation when the ink-filled needle continuously punctures your skin trying to drafting an image. This skin type is believed to appear mainly in some cases of elaborate and detailed tattoos.
For the most part, this burning sensation is bearable and ranges from low to medium only. It soon disappears a few days after the tattooing session. However, it is still rendered an issue for those whose skin type is sensitive.
This is another common pain that usually appears when you get tattooed.
For most tattoo-loving people, they would describe the sensation as if a cat is using his claws to dig deep into your skin. It can feel sharp and intense. But, the pain indeed comes from the sharp needle filled with ink.
The pain appears intense when the artist focuses his attention on a particular area to create an elaborate design. That’s why it turns out to be a sensation similar to an animal’s scratch or even an insect’s sting.
However, not all people would suffer from this type of pain if they only opt for a tiny tattoo on their bodies. You can only feel this sense of sharpness dragging across your skin when your tattoo design is sophisticated.
Apart from it, most cases would not stumble across this sensation as the tattoo artist no longer concentrates on a particular body part to perfect his tattoo design.
This is a pain type offering the people experiencing getting inked a sense of pleasure. It also has another name which is “Background pain,” since it is known to turn up somewhere in the background.
Those who experience getting tattooed for the first time would be likely to come across this sensation. According to most tattoo enthusiasts, this background pain is the most expected pain among tattooed people.
When the ink-filled needles begin to hit the skin with a sharp prick, your body initially reacts to the sensation by releasing some stress hormones similar to adrenaline. The hormones then work their way to numb the tattooed area, which creates a dull ache somewhere in the background.
By making the pain null and appearing in the background, you tend to forget the actual pain when deconcentrated by other entertaining activities, namely listening to music or talking to the tattoo artist. However, there is a high possibility that you would slightly feel the pain around or intensify during the tattoo session.
Thanks to these unique features, this pain can be considered ‘good’ because it helps you ignore the actual pain or feel less pain while getting tattooed. Therefore, it is essential to distract yourself from the actual pain by taking advantage of this dull ache.
Most people would suffer from this type of pain when getting tattooed at some bony regions, namely the outer wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles.
The pain is known to turn up when the prick of the ink-filled needles begin to puncture the areas above the bone at a rapid speed. The neves in your bones start to pick up the sensation transferred from the needles leading to the vibrating pain.
Those who have a skinny figure with a small amount of fat over their bones are more likely to sustain this pain type when getting tattooed at some bony spots. However, the pain is not too intense and severe compared to scratching or burning one.
Nevertheless, it still causes some discomforts and unpleasant sensations when the needles pierce the skin area that contains plenty of major nerves. So if your pain intolerance is high, be cautious with this pain when getting inked.
This is the most intense and severe pain type of all types when having a tattoo.
Most tattoo experts would agree that this sensation type has a resemblance to the bee stinging. It can feel incredibly intense and severe, as if the needles go deep into your skin.
Due to being an intense pain, it could cause the tattoo newbies to shy away from the needles when being inked at the body parts with tight skin, such as wrists or biceps. This sensation type is known to turn up during either the outlining process where the tattoo artists have to outline the entire design or the detailing process.
The vibrating pain is yet very intense, but it does not only stem from the deep piercing of needles into your skin. In some cases, it could be down to the tattoo artists who are not experienced enough to tattoo their clients. Instead, they are tattoo amateurs and mess up with the process by pushing the needles too deeply into the skin.
By allowing tattoo newbies to tattoo your skin, you might risk ending up with a tattoo deformity, which is sometimes known as “tattoo blowout”. This could lead to severe consequences where the ink is all over the tattooed spots. As a result, the final tattoos appear to be painful and blurry, which could disappoint you.
To avoid those unexpected experiences, you had better turn to those who have expertise in this industry and not consider getting tattooed on thin or tight skin.
6 Factors Affecting Tattoo Pains
When it comes to getting inked, it is not unusual to feel a sense of painfulness triggered by the needles punctured into your skin. For some people, the pain is bearable and within their pain tolerance. With others, they feel the pain shortly when the needles are pierced into their bodies.
As it turns out, having a tattoo always involves some pain. Nevertheless, people might suffer from tattoo pain differently, depending on several factors. Apart from the specific body parts where you get tattooed, other factors affecting the pain you might experience are gender, weight, age, previous tattoo experience, the qualification of the artist, and tattoo features.
A study from Stanford has proved that gender plays a significant role in affecting the pain levels during the tattooing process. According to this study, women might endure the tattoo pain more intensely than men. This is due to the differences in the physical well-being of the two sexes.
This is another factor that could have a significant effect on pain level. It is reported that being heavier can put those looking forward to getting tattooed at a disadvantage. Due to the excess weight, overweight people might suffer higher pain levels.
When someone becomes obese, their skin stretches out and becomes thinner than usual, making it more sensitive to tattoos. Similarly, individuals being light and skinner can also experience higher tattoo pain levels due to their thin skins.
Age is known to have a significant impact on the tattoo pain level. This is because as one gets older, their skin would stretch out more and become much thinner. For this reason, older people would be likely to sustain higher pain levels when getting tattooed.
This is a psychological component that would play such a significant role in pain levels. It is believed that tattoo-experienced people would possess a better pain tolerance and a higher endurance due to their previous exposure to tattoo sensation.
Unlike those who have not exposed themselves to tattoos beforehand, tattoo-experienced individuals would have a glimpse of what to anticipate. That’s why almost all of them find the pain more manageable. In addition, they tend to feel much more relaxed than those who are about to have tattoos for the first time.
The artist’s skill level
It is believed that opting for a highly skilled artist with many years of industry-related experience could significantly impact the final result and pain intensity.
Those who go to tattoo experts would hardly ever deal with painful tattoos as the artists know how to control their hands when moving forwards and backwards, outlining the design in some painful regions.
The opposite situation goes for tattoo newbies who are less experienced and have no idea how to be more sensitive when tattooing at difficult and painful locations.
The complexity of your tattoo is another factor worth considering when someone decides to have their body tattooed.
People who tend to opt for having large tattoo pieces with sophisticated designs might experience higher pain intensity. In addition, the more complicated the tattoo artwork is, the more it will be likely to hurt you.
Therefore, you should bear in mind choosing the type of tattoo artwork wisely. Otherwise, you are more likely to suffer from painful sensations as the tattoo requires more work from the ink-filled needles.
Tattoo Pain Chart
When it comes to having a tattoo, each individual will react differently to the painful sensation. In addition, the pain intensity would vary depending on where you would like to get tattooed.
It can be seen that different body regions would respond differently to the ink-filled needles. Below is a detailed tattoo pain chart or table that lists all body parts alongside the pain intensity, followed by a pain scale.
- Mild: 1 – 3
- Moderate: 4 – 5
- Severe: 6 – 7
- Very severe: 8 – 9
- Worst pain possible: 10
|Shinbones & Ankles||9||9|
|Breasts & Chest||8||9|
|Hands & Fingers||7||7|
|Head & Face||7||6|
The Most Painful Spots
Getting a tattoo hurts, but it would depend on the body parts you are about to get tattooed. With the tattoo chart revealed, it illustrates that getting inked at regions where there is little fat and several nerve endings would hurt the most. Bony areas with the thinnest skin also join this group.
Armpit: Amongst several places to get tattooed, the armpit would be rendered the most sensitive spot to get inked as you can suffer from extremely intense pain. According to the pain scale, armpits rank top spot for being the most painful area, with pain intensity at 10.
Rib Cage, Spine, and Shinbones & Ankles: The second most painful place to get inked would go to the area around the rib cage, spine, and shinbones & ankles. Tattoo pain at these spots can be severe due to the thin skin with less fat being around. On top of that, nerve endings are likely to lie beneath the thin layer of skin, which could intensify the pain.
Groin Area, Breasts and Chest: With the pain intensity ranked at around 8-9, these spots are prone to be sensitive, so getting tattooed here can be irritated and painful. The groin area, breasts, and chest are mostly filled with nerve endings that are sensitive to the ink-filled needles.
Lips: Getting tattooed around the lips would cause severe pain due to the loose skin packed with many nerve endings. Further health complications could appear, such as bleeding and swelling if getting a tattoo on the lips.
Hips, Elbows and Neck: These are the areas that are amongst the most painful places to get tattooed. The bones are right underneath the thin skin in these areas, triggering severe pain when hit by the ink-filled needles. You are expected to experience the tattoo pain to be from high to very severe. This is accurate as hips, elbows, and neck are sensitive areas.
Ears, Hands and Fingers: Despite being the popular places to be tattooed, ears, hands, and fingers are still sensitive areas containing numerous nerve endings that could trigger severe pain. Moreover, the skin in these areas is pretty thin. That’s why your tattoo experience could be unpleasantly disturbed if choosing these spots to be tattooed.
Head & Face and Back: During the tattoo session, head & face and back would be the place that is likely to suffer from severe pain due to the significant number of nerve endings. The pain can be irritated, ranging from high to severe. Like other areas containing loads of nerve endings, the head & face, and back would also be sensitive to the ink-filled needles.
Stomach: If you intend to get tattooed in the tummy area, brace yourself for some pain ranging from high to severe. Although the pain you’ll suffer would depend on the weight you possess and the type of skin you have, those who have looser skin around the stomach certainly are likely to go through more severe pain than those with tighter skin.
The Least Painful Spots
While areas with lots of bones and nerve endings would cause severe pain, places packed with fat and muscle cause the least amount of pain when being tattooed. The pain level would range from low to moderate. Here are some highly recommended spots:
Inner bicep: Despite having loose and soft skin, the inner bicep still belongs to the least painful group, the generous amount of muscle inside. Getting inked here is slightly painful compared to other spots in the group. However, most tattoo artists and enthusiasts still consider the pain to be mild and bearable.
Outer shoulders: This area is known to have thick and tight skin with not many nerve endings, allowing tattoo lovers to have their tattoos inked here.
Getting a tattoo on the outer part of your shoulders tends not to cause intense pain. Instead, the pain is primarily moderate, which is bearable for almost all people.
Outer Thigh: There is a significant amount of fat and lots of muscle, making the outer thigh an excellent place for getting tattooed. It is amongst the least painful places with few nerve endings.
Calves: If you consider having tattoos in less intense areas, calves would be a perfect choice. Getting tattooed here tends to be less painful, thanks to the generous amount of fat and muscle on the calves. The calf pain would range from low to moderate, which is suitable for someone whose pain tolerance is low.
Outer bicep: The outer bicep is amongst the least painful spots, if not the least intense area to get tattooed. Thanks to having lots of muscle and few nerve endings, getting inked in this area would never cause severe pain. Instead, the pain tends to be low to moderate, making it a fantastic destination for a tattoo.
How To Reduce Tattoo Pain
Getting a tattoo has never been a painless experience. For some, the pain is bearable despite having a large artwork needled onto their bodies. However, others would not cope well with the pain due to the difference in pain intolerance.
By taking some easy tips on board, you can help lessen the pain level while having a tattoo inked. It is significant to know what you’re allowed and not allowed when preparing to get inked.
So, you’ll be fully aware of the proper measures that you should take to minimise the pain. Below are our highly recommended tips for each period of tattooing.
Before the process
Before the tattooing process gets underway, it is essential to take some of these easy steps.
- Stay away from alcoholic drinks the night before the session
- Get a sufficient amount of sleep before getting inked
- Feed your stomach with a proper meal 1-2 hours in advance
- Don’t eat too full if you are about to get your tummy tattooed
- Remember to stay hydrated even before the session
- Opt for some comfortable clothes
- Remember to go for a morning session
Apart from those easy-going steps that you should take before the session, you had better bear a bit of your time selecting a highly skilled artist who has plenty of experience in the tattoo industry. A professional tattoo artist would know how to satisfy you and make the process packed with pleasures.
To do so, you can request the tattoo artist to show you his qualification and certification related to the field he is working on. Furthermore, you should pay a visit to the artist parlour to check if all the pieces of equipment used in the tattooing process are sterilised. It is a must that the artist has to wear clean gloves during the entire process.
During the process
Once the process gets started, you might begin to feel anxious about the pain when being tattooed. If so, remember to take these steps on board to ease your concerns.
- Put your earphones on and listen to the relaxing or healing music
- Watch a hilarious movie to get away from the pain
- Stay communicative with your artist to take a break when necessary
- Opt for a particular cream that could numb the skin naturally
After the process
When the experience is over, make sure that you still follow the strict instructions from the artists to help you stay away from the tattoo pain. This is considered to be a critical time to heal the pain caused by the ink-filled needles. Here are some aftercare guides for you to take in:
- Remember to stay hydrated after the session
- Make sure to wear loose clothes instead of tight ones
- Apply some products such as ointments and moisturisers to alleviate pain
- Take painkillers such as tylonal or ibuprofen every 6 hours to cope with pain
- Limit the number of times touching wounds or scratching the tattooed regions
Things To Anticipate When Having A Tattoo
When it comes to having tattoos, it is not just the tattoo pain that counts. There is an array of other things that you should take into consideration. Indeed, tattoos may not take long to get into your skin. However, they are known to last forever, which is something worth considering.
Once the tattoos are already inked on your skin, removing them entirely from your body is challenging. There tend to be some mixed results, but they do not seem to bring positive news to tattoo-loving people who would like to abandon some of their tattoos.
That’s why it is crucial to walk through all aspects of tattooing before considering having those ink-filled images displayed on your body. Before getting inked, get your mind around the potential risks you could sustain and the possible changes you would like to make post-tattooing.
Here are a few risks that are worth considering when having a tattoo.
- Risk of infection after being tattooed
- Risk of allergic reaction to dyes
- Risk of scarring
- Risk of blood-borne diseases
Along with those potential health risks, you might somehow feel a deep sense of regret that you have chosen an inappropriate design for your tattoo. In other cases, you may pile on some stones or feel pregnant, leading to the change in the appearance of the tattoos. This could disappoint your feelings, and you might wish you had not gotten tattooed.
Regardless of whatever risks it could imply when getting inked, it is advised that you should arm your mind with enough authentic information about the tattoo, the process, and the impact after that. Only once you know how things are executed and the entire process you can go ahead with your decision.
Indeed, getting inked is not a painless experience at all. People endure tattoo pains differently due to their pain intolerance and the placement of the tattoos.
If you have already had an eye on some specific tattoos, then make sure to give this tattoo pain chart a thorough read before heading to have them needled onto your body. Our detailed run-through will provide you with the insight you need when it comes to getting tattooed.
Also, don’t forget to discuss with your private tattoo artist before your tattoo experience. Most highly skilled artists have mastered their crafts and had good know-hows to comfort their customers, allowing you to experience the process with pleasure.
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