The Most Painful Places to Get a Tattoo

Black and white bulldog hand tattoo on man


With any tattoo, you will expect some level of discomfort. However, there are some areas of the body that are more painful to get inked than others. In general, the body parts which store less fat are the most painful to get tattooed, as they don’t provide that extra layer of fatty protection that helps to reduce pain. Understanding the level of pain to be expected can help you prepare, and it’s recommended to start with a smaller tattoo to see if you can tolerate the pain level. You might also consider using a tattoo numbing cream before your appointment.


Head tattoos are not for the faint hearted. Your face, head and ears all contain many nerve endings. What’s more, compared to other areas of your body, there isn’t very much fat to provide protection against pokey needles. You are likely to experience fairly intense stinging and burning sensations when getting a tattoo anywhere on your head.

Neck & Throat 

In recent years, tattoos on the neck and throat have exploded in popularity. Unfortunately, If you’re daydreaming about getting a neck or throat tattoo, you should be ready for some pain. Like your head, your neck has very thin skin, little to no fat tissue, and is very sensitive. This means you’re guaranteed to feel a lot of unpleasant sensations during your appointment.


The armpit is undoubtedly one of the most, if not the most, painful areas to get a tattoo. What causes armpits to be so painful to tattoo? The axillary nerve (the main nerve in your body) runs through your armpit, and is full of nerve endings. That means you will feel more than other areas of the body. Armpit tattoos can also be dangerous, as lymph nodes in your armpit can be damaged during the tattooing process.


A contender to the most painful spot to get tattooed are the ribs. Rib tattoos are hugely popular, but don’t be fooled, they are often very painful. With extremely thin skin, you will feel the wrath of the needle sting.

Hands, Fingers & Inner Wrist

Your hands and fingers are bony and covered by thin skin, making them extremely sensitive to tattooing. We use our hands to touch and sense the world around us, so there are many nerve endings that are ready to fire when being poked and prodded.

Bottom, Groin & Inner Thigh

Despite being a fatty and muscular area of the body, don’t be misled – your bottom can be an extremely painful area to have tattooed. There are thousands of nerve endings in your lower region, and pain is likely to increase as you get closer to where your cheeks meet your thigh. The groin and inner thigh area also have a high amount of nerve endings making them especially sensitive and painful tattoo spots.

Back of Knee

The skin on the back of your knee is thin, stretchy, and highly sensitive. This area is full of blood vessels and nerve endings, meaning it isn’t the most pleasant spot to have tattooed. Knee caps can also be painful, but do have slightly thicker skin which may make the experience more tolerable.


The skin on your feet is extremely thin, and whether you’re getting the top or bottom of your foot tattooed, you might need something to bite down on! The bones on the top of your feet can cause an unpleasant rattling feeling when this area is being tattooed. 

Planning on Getting a Tattoo?

Some of these areas might not be the best choice for your first (or even second or third) tattoo, as they can even be too painful for seasoned veterans! It’s important to remember that with any tattoo, you can always talk with your tattoo artist and communicate during the session, taking breaks and stopping if the pain becomes unbearable. If you’re located in the Sunshine Coast, stop by Anchored Arts Tattoo Parlour, and you can rest assured that our friendly Tattoo artists will take great care of you.

Shopping Cart