Where Do Tattoos Hurt the Most?

A Sensitive Look at Tattoo Pain

Don't let the fear of a painful tattoo process keep you from expressing your individuality with body art. Once you set your mind to it and prepare for the tattooing process you'll find your body has the ability to withstand the pain under most circumstances.

However, if you're already anticipating the cringe of the tattoo machine you may want to think twice before opting for a tattoo design on one of these areas.

Yes, the placement may be cool, but you'll pay a little more by way of pain due to the common lack of body fat in these 5 spots where tattoos hurt the most.

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Tattoo in Chinese characters on a woman's ribs
Giulia Fiori Photography / Getty Images

The rib cage offers a beautiful spread of canvas perfect for cherry blossom tattoos and other scrolling designs, however, the thin skin across the ribs can cause quite a bit of a challenge for those being tattooed. You may find starting small and then gradually adding to a side rib cage design is the best way to test the waters first.

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Behind the Ear

closeup of Ai Miyata's tattoos
Ai Miyata's tattoos, a crescent moon and star behind her ear, and a small star over her pierced earlobe. Onnie A Koski / Getty Images

Thanks to the thin and delicate skin around the ear this area is obviously going to be a more sensitive choice. However, don't let that stop you from inking an easy to conceal design. Whether it be a single feather or an insect tattoo your tattoo artist can help numb the anticipated pain with a specialized cream, not that it will numb everything.

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Woman with mom and dad tattoos
Lori Adamski Peek / Getty Images

Nevermind the fact that many tattoo artists will not even work on the foot due to uneven and poor healing results, the pain of this placement should also be noted. The foot has a small distribution of body fat so you'll feel much more of the process. But that doesn't mean cameos and rosaries won't always look gorgeous, so have at it if you must.

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woman in bathrobe displaying chest tattoos
Shestock / Getty Images

Chest tattoos are a popular choice for both men and women. They can take years to complete or be artfully inked within a session. Either way, most chest piece tattoos are going to be painful unless you have lots of body fat or muscle. If you're skinny or of small frame, be prepared to endure a little more for your Old School swallow tattoo.

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ankle tattoo
Stockbyte / Getty Images

Be it a small and concealable anklet or a piece that travels up the leg, ankle tattoos can be painful since there's really nothing there but bone. Delicate as they may seem ankles pull their weight as one of the hurtful spots to ink regardless of their size.

If it's your first tattoo and pain is of primary concern opt for the fattier and more padded spots of your body instead.

A skilled tattoo artist can help you choose the best spot based on your body's fat distribution and anatomy. Consider the back, shoulder blades, calf or arms for a first tattoo and you'll have a little bit of meat on your side. Since when have you been told that's a good thing?