How to Deal With Tattoo Pain: Dos and Don’ts

Tattoos are beautiful body arts that hurt to get them. Different people experience different levels of pain during the inking process. This pain could vary in people depending on several factors like its placement, size, style, the artist’s drawing method, and an individual’s preparedness.

Different body parts react differently to pain, depending on the number of sensory nerves underneath the skin.

Areas with numerous muscles, skin, and fewer nerves are less sensitive, thus less painful. On the other hand, body parts with many nerve endings are more painful due to the high pain sensitivity.

Dealing With a Tattoo Pain: Dos and Don’ts

How to Deal With Tattoo Pain

Nothing beautiful comes easy, and neither are tattoos. After your tattoo heals, you will agree that the symbolic and cute body art you have is worth all the pain it comes with. For first-timers, you need to do proper research before drawing one.

Find out the kind of tattoo designs that are more painful and where they hurt most. You can consider talking to tattoo professionals to prepare you psychologically before you go for the needle.

Below are important tips to help you manage the pain that comes with inking.

1. Consider the Tattoo Placement

While you can easily tolerate the pain that comes with inking, it’s important to note that some body areas are more painful than others. Areas close to bones have more nerve endings making a tat more painful. Fleshy areas are less painful. Discuss with your artist to guide you on places you can draw one with less pain.

2. Hydrate Frequently

Ensure you drink enough water­­­­­­­ beginning two days to your session, during and after. It’s is easy to work on well-hydrated skin, unlike dry skin, which is more irritating. A hydrated skin takes in ink more easily, and the shorter the inking time, the lesser the pain.

3. Have a Proper Meal before the Needle

A combination of pain and hunger can make you faint. Low blood sugar is also known to increase nerve sensitivity. Eat a heavy meal beforehand to give you the energy to withstand the pain.

4. Avoid Alcohol

If you think alcohol is an easy way to lessen the pain when doing a tattoo, you’re very wrong. In fact, it makes it more painful. Alcohol thins the blood, which leads to significant bleeding forcing the artist to draw severally on the same spot, which is quite painful. It also dehydrates your body and makes you frequently move, making the process take a bit longer. Avoid drinking alcohol for at least 12 hours before your session.

5. Take Breaks Between Your Sessions

It’s no secret getting inked is a painful affair. You will still experience pain even if you’re heavily tattooed. Do not “sit tough” until your session is done. It’s okay to take short breaks to hydrate and munch on snacks before you continue. Just don’t take too long as the area may become more sensitive to the pain.

6. Embrace Loose Clothes

If the area you’re planning to draw a tattoo will be covered with clothing, make sure it’s loose and thin. This makes it more comfortable at the end of your inking session and free from clothes destruction. If possible, leave the area uncovered, for instance, on upper shoulders, arms, legs, and thighs.

7. Have Enough Rest and Sleep

It would help if you had the energy to cope with an inking process. This will come from enough rest and good sleep. Enough rest contributes to the release of adrenaline and endorphins that block pain. It, therefore, increases the time you can stand the pain during a tat session.

8. Find a destruction

To divert the pain during the actual drawing, engage in something that keeps your mind off the area. You can choose to listen to music, read a book, play games or watch a movie. You can do anything to preoccupy your mind.

9. Relax

Before you go under the needle, make sure you lie or sit in a comfortable position. Breath in and out to kick out nervousness. Relaxed skin and muscles give the artist an easy time to work. During the process, keep away from frequent movements that might destruct the artist and lengthen the process.

10. Stick to a Good Aftercare Routine

The tattoo artist will always explain an effective aftercare regime that will help you heal your tat quickly and avoid infections. Follow the recommended medication and avoid sun and water to keep it aerated.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I take before a tattoo to ease the pain?

There are various pain relievers you can use to ease pain, either in the form of numbing creams or over the counter drugs like ibuprofen. Numbing creams and sprays are safe, and the artist can recommend one for you. For pain relievers, avoid those that contain aspirin since it is a blood thinner and could lead to more pain.

How long after a tattoo does it hurt?

After getting a tattoo, it is common to experience soreness for three to four weeks. You should not worry if it lasts longer than this. Remember also different skins take different amounts of time to heal a wound completely. The soreness will also depend on a number of factors like size and design.

Do tattoos hurt the next day?

During a tattoo process, the needle is taken through the skin layer, leaving ink and destroying the skin, which is, of course, painful. A tat will usually hurt, swell and feel sore in the next few days after it is done. After some time, the pain becomes less, and you begin to feel comfortable with it. With proper aftercare, a tattoo can take two to three weeks to heal completely.


Getting a tattoo can be daunting, but it’s not extremely painful since nobody would be heavily tattooed if this was the case. You will need to learn a lot of things like the right choice of tattoo, location, tattoo artist, and the healing process. Tattoos are painful because skin undergoes trauma in the process. The above tips will help you alleviate this pain.

Also read:

1. How to Tell Your Parents You Have a Tattoo
2. How To Prepare For A Tattoo

About the author

I’m S.R Bhuiyan, a proud Tattoo artist. I will share the body art journey with you here in PrettyJust. I have 10+ years of experience in the field of tattoo, piercing, nail art, and skincare. Check out my bio which has my tattoo studio/cat/travel pics!

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