The Least Painful Places to Get a Tattoo

We all want that cool tattoo on our fore arms or on our backs. Or we all wanted to have a colorful design on our waists to show off at the beach. We ask our friends all they know about tattoos and we end up knowing that it is a painful process. Sounds discouraging. But are you aware that there are some parts of the body that painless during tattooing?

You feel pain due to the nerve endings at various parts of your body. While somebody’s parts have more nerves, other body parts have less. In other words, more pain at certain places as compared to others. If we choose the right spot for tattoos, there is less pain during the tattoo making process in general.

Depending on several factors, there are less painful and more painful places to get a tattoo. This is the main factor for people to select a tattoo location. We bring to you a complete guide on less painful places to get a tattoo. Read on for a less painful tattoo experience.

Tattoo: The Basics

Tattoos are a form of body art where the tattoo artist inserts ink into the dermis layer of the skin to form a design. Tattoos can be permanent or temporary. It can also be black & white or colored. Tattoo artists or people making tattoos use a single or many needles to insert ink in your skin. Depending on the size and details of the art work, tattoo making can take from a few minutes to a few hours.

The word tattoo originates from the Samoan word – ‘to strike’. The history of tattoo making is old. We find the oldest tattoos on Egyptian mummies. They date from the period of 3351 and 3017 BCE. Experts have also found tattoos in mummified humans which date back to 3250 BC. The body, well preserved in Alpine glacier had around 61 tattoos on it.

Tattoos have several uses. It could be for identity, for functional use (like marking Alzheimer’s patients) or for medical use. In society, people use tattoos for cosmetic and socio-cultural activities. In recent times, they have become a medium of art and self-expression. We can find tattoos in both males and females all over the globe.

Pain During the Tattooing Process

During the tattoo making process, the tattoo artist hits the skin with a small needle. The pigment on the tip of the needle gets deposited at the top surface of your derma. This continuous needle pricking is what causes you pain during the tattooing process. You feel more pain when the tattooed skin is thin or there is less fat underneath it. That’s because fat tends to cushion the pin impact.

At the same time, certain body parts have more nerve endings than others. Due to this, you feel more pin pricks at certain parts to others. Thus, by choosing the correct pace to get a tattoo, you can make it a less painful experience.

As per opinion, the pain during tattoos is of several types. They are:

  • Sharp pain: You feel as if bees are stinging you. This pain comes when the tattoo artist is working at the same place for a long. It is also possible that the tattooist is pricking deeper than usual. This pain also indicates that a tattoo blowout may take place. Blowouts result in blurred tattoos. Always go to an experienced tattoo artist and take a break if you feel this pain.
  • Burning pain: When the tattoo artist works for a long duration, your skin feels as if it is burning. It is also common at places where there is far below the skin.
  • Dull pain: When the needle hits the skin, the body produces stress hormones (such as adrenaline). These stress hormones work to nullify the pain in your body. Distract yourself with music or television to pass through with this light pain. Tattoo artists say this is the best kind of pain.
  • Scratching pain: When the tattoo artist works at a place for a long time, you feel this type of pain. There is an intense scratching sensation at that place. This pain is tolerable.
  • Vibrating pain: You feel this pain when you are getting a tattoo at a bony place. This includes outer wrists, elbows, ankles and ribs. The nerve endings at the bones pick up the fast needle movement causing this pain. Skinny people feel this more than others.

Places where it pains the least to get a tattoo:

Depending on several factors, you feel less pain at certain body parts. We bring to you a list of these:

  • Forearm: The forearm has muscles and thick skin to cushion the needle impact. It also has lesser nerve endings.
  • Upper and outer thighs: These parts have more fat deposits which take in the needle impact. These are one of the least painful places to have a tattoo. Females in particular have more fat deposits here.
  • Outer biceps: Due to a large number of muscles, this area has less pain as compared to other parts of the body. Males in particular prefer this location.
  • Outer shoulders: The skin here is thick with fewer nerve endings. A popular tattoo location.
  • Calf region: This location has a lesser amount of nerve endings and more muscles & fat. Due to this, the pain during tattooing is less.
  • Upper and lower back: Due to thick skin and lesser nerve endings, it pains less to have tattoos on the back. It is a safe and less painful practice to have the designs away from the spinal cord and bones.

Factors that affect the amount of pain:

There are several factors that vary tattooing pain from person to person. Find below some of these factors:

  • Experience: Research shows that people who got tattoos in the past can tolerate more pain. Experienced people have higher pain threshold levels.
  • Gender: Due to physiochemical differences, women feel pain more than men. At the same time, scientists claim that females well receive pain as compared to men.
  • Age: Though there is no specific study to back this up, as per a general consensus, older people feel more pain. They are skinny and their old skin is less tolerant to tattoo needles.
  • Weight: Heavy people tend to have loose skin. While tattooing, they have more pain than people in shape.

Places to avoid getting a tattoo

There are several places in your where you should avoid getting a tattoo. It not only causes pain during the process but the tattoo takes time to heal. We list below these locations.

  • Armpit: It has soft, sensitive skin with a lot of nerve endings. It is very painful to get a tattoo here. Even tattoo artists don’t recommend a tattoo at your armpits.
  • Inner biceps: The region has soft, loose skin. It has a large number of nerve endings. Tattooing here is uncomfortable. Also, tattoos here take a longer time to heal.
  • Ankles and shins: The skin is very thin here and the bones lie beneath it. Having a tattoo here is very painful.
  • Rib cage: The chest area usually has fewer fat deposits and tattooing here is painful. Every time you breathe, the chest expands and contracts to move the rib cage. This makes it difficult to tattoo the area. The needle may penetrate inside the skin making the experience painful.
  • Nipples and breasts: These are very sensitive areas. Tattooing in these places will cause a lot of pain.
  • Elbows and knee caps: Since the skin here is over the bones, tattooing causes pain here. Also, at times, skin in this region is loose which adds to the discomfort.
  • Behind the knees: The area has stretchy, loose skin. Getting a tattoo here is a painful process.
  • Groin: There are a large number of nerve endings in the groin region. Tattooing here causes severe pain.
  • Hips: Since the skin is over the hip bone, it is painful to get a tattoo here. It is even true if you are a lean person.
  • Neck and spine: These regions are very sensitive. They have a lot of nerves and nerve endings.
  • Lips: The skin on the lips is very sensitive and fragile. There are a lot of nerve endings on lips. Tattooing here results leads to pain. You can also get bruises, swelling and bleeding.
  • Head, ears and face: These places don’t have a lot of fat to act as a cushion. On top of it, there are a lot of nerve endings to add to the pain.
  • Stomach: Tattooing is painful here if you have loose skin on the stomach. This is usually true for obese people. A person with tight skin on the stomach has a less painful experience.
  • Fingers, hands, toes and feet: These regions have thin skin and a lot of nerve endings. So tattooing here is a painful experience.

Tips to reduce pain while getting a tattoo:

The main way to avoid pain during tattooing is to select the right place. Apart from it, you can also follow these tips to win over pain. These methods are opinions from experienced tattooists.

  • Choose an experienced tattoo artist: Ensure that your tattoo artist is very experienced. Check for his licenses and certifications. Make sure that the artist uses gloves and proper equipment. All equipment should be sterile before use. The tattoo studio should be clean and have first aid equipment as well.
  • Stay hydrated: It helps to keep the skin supple and reduces pain during the tattoo process.
  • Sleep well before tattooing: A good sleep before tattoos is a must. It helps balance stress levels and endures pain.
  • For tattoos on the stomach: Do not eat before a tattoo over the stomach.
  • No smoking and drinking: Do not smoke or drink before a tattoo session. Alcohol thins the blood encouraging bleeding at the first instance. Also, you need to stay alert and composed while tattooing.
  • Take breaks: If you feel pain during the session, take short breaks during tattooing. Talk about it to your tattoo artist in advance.
  • Use pain numbing gel or soap: Before starting the tattoo process, use a pain numbing gel or tattoo soap. It numbs the area and reduces pain. Tattoo artists have these products with them.
  • Follow tattoo aftercare instructions: Follow the tattoo artists’ aftercare guidelines. Wear loose clothes and apply any general purpose antiseptic cream & ointment. This will heal the tattoo fast.
  • Avoid tattoos in the rainy season: Tattoos in the rainy season take time to heal. They are also at risk of getting infected.

In the end:

Tattoos are an expression of one’s creativity and individuality. They have been in existence since prehistoric times. We understood the several uses of tattoos. Apart from other uses, it is also a great piece of body art to carry along. You can have both monochrome and colorful tattoos on yourself. There are several types of pain during tattooing. Depending upon the region, detail in the design and time, you feel several types of pain.

The pain intensity during tattoos depends on the location of where it is being made. We listed the places where it pains the least (and where it pains the most). For less pain, the region should have fewer nerve endings. Also, fat deposits underneath cushion the impact. Sensitive parts, loose skin and bony areas hurt the most.

You can reduce pain during the tattoo process by following the given tips to your benefit. Tattoos are a painful process and you need to plan in advance to cut them. We hope that our guide will help you create a less painful tattooing experience. All the best!

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