Most & Least Painful Tattoo Locations

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Most & Least Painful Tattoo Locations

Most & Least Painful Tattoo Locations

If you’re getting a tattoo, you probably have a good idea of the location on your body you want it. Aesthetics is everything when it comes to tattoos. Yet, the thought of pain scares you. Despite reassurance from people who tell you ‘it feels like a pinch’ or ‘doesn’t hurt at all,’ most of us convince ourselves that those people are wrong. Tattoos involve needles poking in and out of your skin, after all.

There’s good reason to go with your gut. Tattoos do hurt. Your tolerance to pain and the location of the tattoo on your body affects the amount of pain that it causes. But do not think that tattoos feel like slathering lotion on your arms. They don’t and will cause some type of pain, even if it is minimal.

Where are the least and most painful locations on the body for a tattoo?

Consider the following information about popular tattoo locations.


The ribcage is where tattoos hurt the most. Our body lacks fat, muscle, and skin in the ribcage area. You’ll feel every single prick of the needle and won’t likely associate it with a mere scratch. Ribcage tattoos hurt and certainly aren’t for the weak. The central nervous system likely causes the pain.

Inside of Thigh

Many people think that a tattoo on the inside of their thigh will be painless because the area has a lot of fat and no bone, but they’re wrong. The inside of the thigh area ranks as one of the most painful locations for a tattoo. The area is painful because it is less exposed than other body parts.

Outer Shoulder

One of the most popular locations for first-time tattoos is the outer shoulder. People choose the outer shoulder because showing off their tat during the summer becomes a new fashion trend. But, the fact that the outer shoulder is one of the less painful areas to get a tattoo may impact that decision. If you are intolerant to pain, consider getting your first tattoo on the outer shoulder.


Head tattoos aren’t as popular as others, but nonetheless a thing.’ They’re also really painful. The head lacks fat and nerves, which creates pain. The needle vibrates on the head, which causes a pretty gruesome sound. Most people find this extremely disturbing when getting a head tattoo.


Several years ago, everyone HAD to have an ankle tattoo. While the trend isn’t as popular these days, it’s still a favorite tattoo location for a lot of people. Tattoos around the feet and ankles cause discomfort due to the proximity of the skin to the bone with little padding or cushion between. If you have a low tolerance to pain, avoid getting your first tattoo in this area.

Elbow/Inner Arm

Elbow tattoos hurt, as will an inner arm tattoo. Two out of three main nerves are located in the inner arm and elbow area, which likely causes discomfort or pain during the tattooing process. The area is very sensitive so expect to feel every stroke of the needle without any protective cushioning to protect you.


Consider getting your tattoo on one of your leg calves if you want a less-painful experience. Many great tattoos come alive on the calf and since it doesn’t cause extreme discomfort, there is little worry you’ll cry in front of all your friends and the tattoo artist.

Inside of Wrist

A popular location for tattoos, the inside of the wrist also ranks as one of the most painful areas on the body for artwork. Another location with very little fat, the inside of the wrist does have a ton of nerve endings which contribute to the pain.


Since the skin on the hands and fingers is thinner than skin elsewhere on the body, getting a tattoo here can cause quite a bit of pain. The hands and fingers also contain bones and ligaments that likely contribute to the pain caused by a tattoo. Making matters worse, tattoo ink doesn’t hold in the skin very well. Tattoo artists usually need to go over the area a few times as result.

Have you reconsidered the location of your tattoo after reading this information?

Many people do once they learn the locations that cause the most pain when tattooing. If you are still undecided and ready to get your ink done, you should contact our studios and book an appointment or simply come on in, walk-ins are always welcomed.  For inspiration take a look at our photo gallery, all the work you will see was done by our award-winning tattoo artists.