You’ve narrowed down your placement and decided on your thighs. 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.
Table of Contents (clickable)
Thigh Tattoo Pain
Most parts of your thigh experience mild to very minor pain sensitivities from tattooing. Though this differs slightly for men versus women due to muscle formation, in general, it’s less painful because:
- Your thighs have thick skin that makes narrowing down where to deposit ink much simpler.
- Your thighs are generally fattier, thicker, or fleshier than other parts of your body, with less nerve endings to react to pain.
As evident from the chart above, different parts of your thigh experience varying levels of pain.
Inner and Back of Thigh
This is one of the most sensitive spots on the thigh to tattoo, and most people feel that it is nearly unbearable. This is due to increased nerve sensitivities as you get closer to your groin region, and the skin there is far more thin.
You also need to consider that the inner and back of your thigh rub up against skin and clothing often, which may result in your tattoo fading faster. Check out our article, Help! How Do I Stop My Tattoo From Fading? - A Complete Guide for more information on tattoo placement affecting fading.
Upper and Outer Thighs
This is prime real estate for a large tattoo if you wish to get through a session with the least amount of pain. This is due to a large storage of fat and muscle in your upper and outer thigh area.
In fact, your quadriceps, which are at the front of the thigh, are the largest muscles in the body. This makes it easy for your artist to not only narrow down where in your dermis to stop and deposit the ink, but it also means that the muscle provides a pillow-like conditioning for nerve reactions.
Your upper and outer thighs also have significantly thicker skin, and are familiar with more friction due to rubbing up against clothing, your body parts when you cross your legs, and due to more exposure in warmer seasons.
There are a few other things to consider when tattooing your upper or outer thighs.
- Tattoos here are easily hidden. By wearing pants, long shorts, or a skirt, tattoos on your thigh can be easily hidden for work or personal reasons. This makes it a great location for a first tattoo.
- Tattoos on upper and outer thighs experience less fading. With less exposure to things like UV rays, the number one enemy of tattoos, ink in these locations generally experience less fading.
- This is a big space for little pain. If you want a large piece in a place where it’s easily seen by you (unlike a back piece), but you also want to sit through the session with the least amount of pain, upper and outer thighs are the best choice.
Check out our Tattoo Pain Chart for more on tattoo pain based on area
How to Manage Thigh Tattoo Pain
Getting a tattoo will never be a painless experience, but choosing a placement that is less painful and learning additional ways to manage the discomfort are the keys to a more enjoyable tattooing experience.
Here are some of the best tips for managing tattoo pain.
Find a Professional
The number one suggestion for combating the discomfort of tattooing is to find, and be ready to pay for, an experienced artist. Tattoo artists with extensive experience can turn the stinging sensation of tattooing into a light scratch. They know exactly where to deposit the ink so that they don’t overwork your skin. This also results in a better healing process.
A good night’s rest means your immune system is ready to take on the trauma of a tattoo session. This will minimize the overdrive reaction and will slow down inflammation, which increases sensitivity.
Eat Well & Hydrate
Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and the best way to keep it healthy is to avoid alcohol and caffeine, drink water, and eat nutritional, vitamin-packed foods. This also prepares you for a quick healing process after you’ve been tattooed.
Use a Numbing Cream
If you wish to minimize the pain of a tattoo on your skin, you could use a topical, over-the-counter numbing cream. Keep in mind that some artists will not tattoo skin that has used numbing cream due to the fact that it may alter how your skin holds the ink, and may also increase the pain after it wears off. Have a look at our article of The 5 Best Tattoo Numbing Creams For A Painless Tattoo Experience.
Though you should avoid blood thinners like aspirin, some people say taking Tylenol prior to a tattoo session slows down the skin’s swelling and inflammatory response, which helps with sensitivity.
Our Final Thoughts
A thigh tattoo is a prime spot for both the minimal pain and the large real estate, allowing you to create spectacular pieces with fewer session breaks. Any tattoo placement is a personal choice, and you can always ask your artist to do a stencil on your thigh prior to committing to this location. Have a look at other articles in our pain series if you are still debating on placement.