Behind The Ear Tattoo Pain - How Much Does It Hurt?

Written by: Claudia
Last Updated:

You’ve narrowed down your placement and decided on tattooing behind your ear. But now you’re wondering about how much it will hurt. Our Tattoo Pain Series of articles looks at the most popular tattoo locations and gives you the rundown on what you can expect in regards to pain.

How Painful Are Behind the Ear Tattoos?

It’s difficult to narrow down just how painful tattoos behind the ears will be for each individual person. The skin behind our ears has minimal exposure to external factors, is very thin, and has many nerve endings. But the real estate of this area is generally quite small and, as such, what may be painful in a moment can dissipate rather quickly.

One of the most notable things that is reported by people who get behind the ear tattoos is that it’s more annoying than it is extremely painful. Because of the prominent bones located in this region, you may feel the rattling of the needle on the bone, or the buzzing of the needle so close to your ear might cause discomfort that reaches unbearable levels. If you’re very worried about the sound, it may help to ask if your artist uses a rotary or coil machine to tattoo; rotary tattoos are known to be quieter.

tattoo pain chart

A lot of how painful a behind the ear tattoo is depends upon the artist tattooing you. If they are heavy-handed, you’ll certainly feel the impact in this sensitive spot. In general, you’ll feel a significant amount of stinging but nothing you won’t be able to handle. In fact, during a medical research test done with bee stings, the researcher stung himself on various body parts to rate the level of pain in those areas. Behind the ear ranked a 5. 3 on a ten point scale.

The best part about behind the ear tattoos is that the pain generally disappears once you’re done tattooing, and this is usually a place on your body that experiences minimal swelling and a pretty quick healing time.

How to Make a Tattoo Behind the Ear Hurt Less

While you’ll never know just how strong your pain threshold is for certain body parts until you actually tattoo them, here are a few ways you can make a tattoo behind your ear hurt less.

  • Get a lot of rest the night before. A well-rested body can not only deal with trauma better, it also has less intense adrenaline-driven trauma responses. This means your nerve receptors won’t be on high alert and signal intense reactions to the rest of your body as you’re being tattooed.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol before and after your session. Not only can these both heighten your sensitivity, they could also impact your healing time. Skip the alcohol and switch to water - lots of it. Well hydrated skin is easier to tattoo.
  • Choose a gentle artist. Select someone who has previous experience working on pieces behind the ear, so they know how to work with skin this thin and sensitive. Heavy-handed artists should be avoided.
  • Select a small design. If you want to test out the waters on how much pain you can handle, you can do this with a simple design that you can build on later.
  • Eat before your session to keep your blood sugar up. This will help combat any dizziness from the sensation, or nausea caused by your own nerves.
  • Keep yourself distracted. If your artist allows, bring in a friend to join you during the session. You could also text or watch something on your phone while you get tattooed. Your hands will be free and your head will be stuck in one position, so you might as well!
  • Take breaks if you need it. There’s nothing wrong with asking your artist for a breather if it gets too hard to handle.
  • If your tattoo artist allows, use a numbing cream. It’s important to ask if you can use a numbing cream before you do so, especially for an area that is already notoriously difficult to tattoo. It can constrict your blood vessels making it harder for your artist to safely deposit the ink in the dermis behind your ear. If you get the go-ahead, check out our article on the Best Numbing Cream For Tattoos.
  • Follow careful aftercare procedures. Since the pain will mostly vanish once the tattoo is over with, you’ll want to keep it away by ensuring you’re steering clear of poor aftercare habits that could lead to infection. If you have long hair, we recommend tying it up out of the way for at least a week or two. You can check out our article on How Do I Clean My New Tattoo? - An Ink Aftercare Guide.

Check out our Tattoo Pain Scale to see how much tattoos hurt on different parts of the body

Our Final Thoughts

The conversation around the pain level of behind the ear tattoos is quite divided. Some consider the pain to be extensive, but most just say it’s short lived and annoying. Considering medical studies proved the location to be pretty average on the pain threshold, and knowing how cool behind the ear tattoos look, we think it’s definitely worth the brief annoyance.

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