Your Ultimate Tattoo Pain Chart Bible for Tattoos

By Tephanie Stephenson / June 30, 2019
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It’s no secret that getting a tattoo can definitely be painful – besides, you will be getting a needle (or a couple of needles) poking through your skin. If this does not sound painful to you, then I do not know what is.

However, pain is always subjective, since different people have different levels of pain tolerance. Some people cannot take even having their ears pierced, while some can get their whole back tattooed all at once.

Another thing that can affect the pain is the placement of the tattoo. Now, this is one of the biggest factors, which is why we have dedicated a whole article just for this topic. If you want to know where the worst and best tattoo body placements are, then just keep on reading.


Tattoo Pain Chart

This is the ultimate tattoo pain chart which tells what body parts are most susceptible to pain when it comes to getting tattooed.


Red: Extremely painful. If your pain threshold is on the lower side, then you might want to steer clear of these areas when getting tattooed.


Orange: A little bit tolerable. The first few pokes of needle/s can be really difficult and painful but as the procedure continues, the pain will eventually decrease.

Green: The least painful. If you have a very low pain threshold, then you might want to get your tattoo done on the parts that are labelled with the colour green. It won’t be a walk in the park, but it definitely will be a lot less painful than the ones that are labelled in red and orange.


The Most Painful Placements

Just like what the chart above shows, there are places in your body wherein you will feel a lot of pain when getting tattooed. These paces are as follows:

  • hands
  • throat
  • nipples
  • genitals
  • face
  • head
  • feet and ankles
  • spine
  • ribs
  • collarbone
  • knees and elbows

Least Painful Placements for Tattoos

Fortunately for tattoo lovers, there are quite a few body placements wherein the pain is not that bad. This includes the following:

  • Butt
  • Lower thighs and legs
  • Calves
  • Arms
  • Back
  • Stomach
  • Wrist

Pain Levels Based on Body Parts

Just like what we have mentioned earlier, the pain levels depend on your pain threshold and where you are planning on placing your tattoo. If you are curious about how painful the procedure can get on different body parts, then keep on reading.

The Thigh


The skin on the thigh area is quite sensitive, which is why getting a tattoo on that area can be a bit difficult since it can be really painful. The lower thigh area might not be that bad when it comes to the pain, but as you move up the thigh, the more you will feel the pain radiate. If you have a low pain threshold, then you might want to get the tattoo done on your lower thigh area or better yet, just avoid the area altogether.


The Chest

chest tattoo

You can expect a general amount of pain when getting a tattoo on the chest, but the pain will even be worse once you approach the collarbone and sternum areas. The pain won’t make you tap out (for most people, at least), but you will definitely feel the needle coursing through your skin if you decide to get a tattoo done on your chest area.

The Wrist


The wrist definitely is not the worst part or area to get a tattoo done on. You will still, of course, feel pain, as this is a tattoo that we are talking about. Most people decide on getting a tattoo on the wrist as it is easily seen. So if you want to get a tattoo that will remind you of something important, then you might want to get it done on your wrist.

The Foot

The foot area is very sensitive, as there is a little amount of skin covering a huge chunk of bone. The less skin there is, the more painful your tattoo will be. So if you are planning on getting a tattoo on the foot, remember that with every prod of the needle, you will feel it coursing through your bones.

The Knee


Just like the foot, the knee area is covered with just a little amount of skin. This is a bony area, too, which means that you will definitely feel the needle/s coursing through your bones. If you have a low threshold when it comes to pain, then avoid the knee area altogether.

The Stomach

stomach tattoo

The stomach area is not that sensitive when it comes to tattoos, which means that you will not feel a lot of pain if you decide to get a tattoo here. The area is covered with a lot of skin and not a lot of bones.

The Palm and Hands

palm tattoo

Palm and hand tattoos are not that popular, mainly because of the high difficulty when it comes to maintaining and taking care of it. Another thing is that the pain level when getting a tattoo in this area is high. Tattoos on the palm are susceptible to fading and wear, especially since you often use your hands on a daily basis.

The Head


Head tattoos are as painful as it looks. This is your skull that we are talking about – and you’ve only got a little amount of skin covering that skull. You will also be hearing the machine all throughout the process, especially since your ears are located near your head.

The Ribs

The rib is a bony area, which means that the pain when getting a tattoo here is inevitable. When having a tattoo done on your rib, you will feel a weird mix of sensations including getting a little bit ticklish, a burning feeling due to the needles, and of course, a lot of pain. If you are very ticklish and you give up at the first sign of pain, then you might not want to get your tattoo on the ribs.

The Calves


The calf is one of the most popular areas to get inked on, mainly because of one reason: tattoos look good here, plus, the area is not packed with nerves, making the process less painful than what it really is. The area is also surrounded with thick skin and muscles, meaning that it would not hurt that much when a needle or two is prodded in there.

The Throat

The throat or neck area is one of the worst places to get your tattoo in, as the skin here is very, very sensitive. You definitely will feel a lot of pain, so if you cannot deal with that, then you’d better say no to throat and neck tattoos.

The Arms


The arms are one of the easiest and most popular placements when it comes to tattoos. Some people get sleeve tattoos, while some prefer to get smaller ones. You also usually would not have to lay down if you are getting an arm tattoo, which is what makes it much more comfortable than getting a tattoo on your neck or your head.

The Spine


Spine tattoos are usually very painful. Think about it – you would have to prod a couple of needles into the spinal column, anyway. If that does not sound painful, then we do not know what does.

The Lip and Face

The face and lips are both full of nerve endings, which means that getting a tattoo in these areas will definitely hurt a lot. It is also very difficult to maintain, since you do wash your face and brush your teeth every single day. If you really are interested in getting a lip or face tattoo, then make sure to look into it properly first.

The Back


The back is one of the least painful places to get a tattoo in, which is why it is also one of the most popular placements. However, there are still areas on your back that are quite sensitive to pain and needles, including the spine, the shoulders, and the upper back. If you are quite sensitive to pain, then you might want to get the tattoo on the lower back area for less pain.

The Collarbone and Shoulders

Collarbone and shoulder tattoos are quite popular, but they can be very painful. Besides, the collarbone is purely composed of bones, plus, the skin here is very thin! Tattoo designs definitely look good in these areas, which is why a lot of people decide to get their tattoos done here. If you want to get yours done on the collarbone or the shoulders, then make sure you are prepared for what’s to come!

The Nipples and Genitals

nipple tattoo

It goes without saying that nipple and genital tattoos will definitely hurt. We all know that these areas are packed with nerve endings, and the skin around these areas are very sensitive. If you are planning on getting a tattoo around these areas, then make sure that you are ready, prepared, and fully decided.

More Tattoo Pain Charts

Check out a few other tattoo pain charts that we have found:


As you can see here, almost everything that we have discussed above seems to be the same on what’s depicted on the picture.

In this chart, we define how painful the tattoo will be in each placement, as well as what type of pain is comparable to different body placements.


Tattoo pain level per body part.

How to Lessen the Pain

There are certain things that you can do to lessen the pain when it comes to getting a tattoo. Read on to know what these are and make sure to follow our tips!

Stay Away from Smoking

Smoking is bad enough as it is, but if you can’t quit, you should at least try to take a break before and after getting a tattoo. All the chemicals found in the smoke can seriously damage your health and lower your immune system. This could lead to either infections, diseases, or at the very least slow down the regenerative process.

No to Alcohol

Just like cigarettes and smoking, drinking alcohol can greatly affect your immune system and your health. This is also a natural blood thinner, which means that if you drink before, during, and after getting a tattoo, then you can expect the wound or area to bleed more. Steer clear of alcohol for a couple of days before and after getting a tattoo and you will be all good.

Ask your Tattoo Artist for Numbing Cream

If you really are scared of getting a tattoo and the pain that comes with it, then go ahead and ask your tattoo artist if they have numbing cream on hand. This will greatly reduce the pain, which is important, especially if you are getting the tattoo done on sensitive areas of your body.

Not too much Ice Packs

It’s a natural instinct to put frozen bags of veggies or cold compress on a part of your body that hurts. But you should try to refrain from doing this after getting a tattoo to avoid bringing bacteria into contact with the open wounds.

How to Clean your Tattoo

If you are curious about how to clean your brand new tattoo, then go ahead and read on to make sure you steer clear of infection and additional stuff that can cause more pain.

Keep your Hands Clean

The first thing that you should do is to wash your hands before cleaning your tattoo. You would not want to get any bacteria into your new ink, which is why it is important to keep your hands free from dirt and germs.

Wet your hands, put some soap in there, lather and rub them together, rinse well, towel or air dry your wet hands, and then clean your tattoo with it.

Use an antibacterial soap to make sure you get the germs and the bacteria off of your hands.

Clean it at All Times

Wet the area and put some soap on it. Do not put the tattoo directly under the running water and rub it way too hard. Instead, you would want to just wet it with your own hands and then lather it with mild soap.

Lather with Antibacterial Soap

Make sure to use an antibacterial yet mild soap that is free from any harsh ingredients such as fragrances and alcohol. Using soap that contains these ingredients can irritate your new tattoo and may even start a rash.

Rinse with Lukewarm Water

Rinse your tattoo by using lukewarm water to keep it clean. Do not use hot water, as this can hurt you and irritate your new tattoo. You also should not rub it way too hard while rinsing, as this will irritate your new ink.

Dry it Out

You can use a clean piece of paper towel to dry your new tattoo. Make sure to just pat it over the tattoo and do not rub, as this can irritate the wound.

If you want, you can also just leave it to air dry naturally.

Put the Right Amount of Ointment

Take a small dollop of ointment or lotion and put it on your tattoo. Now, make sure not to overdo it, as using too much of the cream can suffocate your tattoo and irritate it.

Ask your tattoo artist what the best type of cream or ointment you can use to keep your tattoo properly taken care of.

Why you Should Bother with Cleaning the Tattoo

Getting a new tattoo is just like obtaining a new wound. The pores are all open and you are prone to getting a bacterial infection, which you definitely do not want. Getting an infection will ruin your tattoo and can even make you feel sick, plus, you will only feel more pain if you let this happen.

Clean it ASAP

Different tattoo artists will recommend different time frames when it comes to removing your bandage or wrap, which is why it is important to listen to them since this part is very important. It can be around 2 to 24 hours, so make sure to listen up.

Do Not Remove the Bandage

If you need to be somewhere else aside from your house after getting the tattoo, then you would want to keep the bandage on to make sure that dirt, sweat, and dust won’t get into it. Your pores and wound are still pretty much open during those times, which means that bacteria can easily infiltrate it. Keep it on until you come home and make sure to rinse it with mild soap and lukewarm water after taking the bandage off.

After Taking the Wrap Off

Now, when it comes to taking the bandage off and washing your tattoo, remember the following statements. Your new tattoo may be filled with gooey stuff such as plasma, blood, lymph fluid, and ink and it might look nasty at first. This is perfectly normal, but you definitely have to wash it properly to get the plasma off, especially, since it can heavily scab your tattoo if not cleaned properly.

If you are still seeing bits of dried up blood and plasma even after washing the tattoo, then just leave it be. Do not rub on it or scratch it too hard, as this can ruin your tattoo or even infect it.

Keeping it Clean After a Couple of Days

You will most probably still see a little bit of blood and plasma oozing out of your new tattoo, but it should be lessened by now. You will also experience swelling and redness still and this can take up to a week before it starts to go down.

If you usually get bruised easily, then you can get a little bit of bruising during these days. It should be nothing to be alarmed of, so if it gets too purple or red and the area seems to spread out, then it might be time to see a doctor.

You should continue sleeping in the opposite direction of where you got the tattoo to make sure that you won’t press the tattoo on your beddings and clothing.

Lastly, make sure to clean your tattoo with mild soap and lukewarm water 2 – 3 times per day to make sure that no type of infection will be present.

Drying and Scabbing

scabbing tattoo


After 4 – 5 days, your new tattoo will start to scab and peel off. Don’t worry – this is not the ink coming off, it’s just the extra layer of the skin and ink that’s actually peeling off. Just make sure not to voluntarily peel everything off, or else, you can create a new wound or even take some of that ink off. Just leave it to scab and peel off on its own – it will eventually pass anyway.

You should still continue to clean your tattoo properly during these days and make sure to apply the ointment every after wash to keep your tattoo moisturized, as this can be a pretty dry moment for your new tattoo.

You will notice a little bit of dullness on your tattoo, but do not worry, as this is completely temporary. It will brighten and become vibrant once again after all the scabbing and peeling is done.

Avoid wearing tight clothing during these times to make sure that the scabs and the new tattoo won’t stick to it. Wear comfortable and loose clothing, plus make sure to stay away from super hot places and doing strenuous activities.


The itchiness will start to commence by day 6 and can last up to day 14. Remember: no matter how itchy it gets, you should resist to scratch it at all costs. If it gets too difficult to handle, then just tap on the tattoo lightly until the itchiness goes away.

The cause of the itchiness is mainly because of the tattoo being too dried up. This is the reason why it is important to keep your tattoo clean and properly moisturized during the whole period.

Also, know that during this period, your skin and tattoo will look all scabby and peeling. This is pretty normal, so there is nothing to worry about. Just let it scab and peel on its own and you will be good.


Days 15 – 30 are most probably the best days that you will experience after getting your new tattoo. The inflammation and soreness should have disappeared by now and your tattoo should be as flat as your usual and untattooed skin.

Itchiness, peeling, and scabbing may still be present in the area, but it should not be anything major. Make sure to still clean your tattoo well and moisturize it with cocoa butter or even your usual unscented lotion.

Do not shave the tattooed are until it is fully healed to make sure that you won’t run into an infection or even a botched tattoo.

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About the author

Tephanie Stephenson

Tephanie has extensive knowledge when it comes to body and facial piercings. She has seen it all – from nostril piercings all the way to nipple piercings. She has over 10 piercings including a nostril, medusa, eyebrow, tragus, earlobe, and industrial. She is an expert when it comes to cleaning piercings and keeping it infection-free. If you have got any questions for Tephanie about any type of piercing, comment it down below and she will get back to you in a jiffy!

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