How Much Do Tattoos Hurt?

For people who are going for their first tattoos, the most frequently asked question is: how much do tattoos hurt? The answer depends on various factors including your tolerance or pain threshold. Some may describe tattoo pain as“a hot scratch”, while others experience much sever discomfort and deep burning sensation.

What Factors Can Affect Tattoo Pain?

When answering “how much do tattoos hurt”, there is no rocket science behind why the intensity of pain varies in different parts of the body. Some individuals feel back tattoos are the most painful type, while others believe scalp tattoos are more annoying. If you are considering whether to get a tattoo, it’s probably better to know the most painful tattoo spots first. Apart from that, here are some factors by which you can gauge the extent of tattoo pain.

  • How intense would you say the pain is after you accidently hurt yourself (such as stubbed toes)? If pain caused by such minor injuries ranks low to you, then getting a tattoos won't hurt so much compared to other people.
  • Does bruising occur easily on your body? If yes, then tattoos on your thinner skin will hurt you more.
  • Are there any extra sensitive areas on your body? If yes, then avoid getting tattoos on them.
  • Planning to get tattoo in fleshy parts? It is recommended to get tattoos in areas where there is more flesh because it will hurt less.

How Much Do Tattoos Hurt: Others’ Experiences

Initially when I thought of getting a tattoo, I was worrying about how much tattoos hurt for me. I have a low tolerance for pain, and I used to whine during sickness or when getting paper cuts. But getting a tattoo was not that bad after all.

Tattoo #1: On my lower back, I got a fairy of 4''x6'' approx. In the first few minutes I experienced sensation like burning or static electricity which was tolerable. In the last half hour, the process got annoyingespecially when the artist was applying shades to the tattoo and was working on the same spot again and again.

Tattoo #2: On my left ribcage, I have a cherry blossom of 8'' long with each blossom of about 2''x2''. It was comparatively less painful than the back one. The most painful part was the last 10 minutes. 

I previously had tattoos on my inner arm and ribswhich were quite painful. But the one I got on my shoulder beats all the pain I have ever experienced. Since my tattoo is closer to the neck, I felt extreme jolts of pain along my neck, back line and up to the skull when the tattoo artist was working. If you are still wondering about how much do tattoos hurt, I must tell you, for some tattoo spots, the pain can be unbearable. My shoulder tattoo took 5 minutes but it felt like ages have passed by. If it tooklonger I would have passed out.

How Can I Reduce Tattoo Pain?

After looking at how much do tattoos hurt, let’s find out what you can do to reduce the pain.


  • Drinking sufficient waterespecially during the tattoo session to minimize the risk of dehydration.
  • Have a good meal at least 1 hour before starting the tattoo session.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that won’t interfere with your tattoo spot. Be as comfortable as you can consider that you will have to sit or lie down for a fairly long period of time.
  • Ask for recommended topical ointments to numb the skin during tattooing. Your tattoo artist can be of great help in this regard.
  • Painkiller-like paracetamol are recommended to reduce the pain. However, avoid blood thinning medicines such as aspirin.
  • Keep munching snackssuch as lollies and breath mintsto maintainenergy level during the tattooing process.
  • Avoid deodorant or perfume before going for the tattoo. However, cleaning and showering is recommended.
  • Keep your earphones with favorite music to pass time and distract yourself during the process.
  • Focus on aftercare the most. Use antibacterial soaps, shower gels and creams. Buy them before going to get tattooed as you might need them after an hour of the process.
  • Consider getting tattooed as a minor medical operation: relax and avoid heavy work afterwards.


  • Avoid partying at the night before the tattoo session. Try to have enough rest.
  • Don’t drink over1 cup of coffee the morning before going for the tattoo session. Overdrinking can make your blood thin.
  • Don't drink alcohol the previous night before getting tattooed. Alcohol interferes with wound healing.
  • Don’t go for the tattoo if you are stick. It can result in infecting others and your own body will not heal appropriately.
  • Don’t taketoo much pictures during the tattooing process. Taking pictures can distract the artist and increase the likelihood of mistakes.
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