How Much Tattoo and Piercing Pain Is Normal?

When getting your first tattoo or piercing, you want to know that you’re in good hands and that the process will be as painless as possible. Unfortunately, if you’ve never had this procedure done before, it can be difficult to know what level of pain you should expect.

What does normal mean?

For most people, normal is a relative term. You might have normal blood pressure when your doctor measures it, but if your neighbor has elevated blood pressure, then you might be diagnosed with hypertension. When it comes to pain during tattooing or piercing, normal really means how much pain do you feel compared to other people in a similar situation as you? For example, if someone who’d never had any tattoos before got a large back tattoo, they’d probably feel more discomfort than someone who was just getting another small tattoo on their wrist.

What should I expect after each session?

If you’re looking to get a tattoo or a piercing, you probably have some questions. What will it feel like? How long will it take? And how much pain should I expect? It can be helpful to ask these questions ahead of time so you know what to expect after each session. Here’s a list of answers for some common questions about tattoo pain and piercing pain.

Who is most likely to have issues with their tattoo or piercing?

For many people, getting a tattoo or piercing hurts—and to varying degrees. It depends on many factors like your body type, your pain tolerance, and even which specific area of your body you’re getting pierced or tattooed. Piercings in certain parts of your ear are typically more painful than piercings in other areas. And tattoos in certain places can be particularly painful as well (think spots like your ribs). Whether you’re worried about your own experience with a piercing or tattoo or you know someone who is going to get one, it helps to have an idea of what kinds of sensations are normal so that everyone involved knows what to expect and has realistic expectations for how much it will hurt.

What can I do to prevent problems from happening?

Sometimes people think they can jump right into a piercing or tattoo project without preparing their body, but it’s never a good idea to do that. The more you educate yourself on how to get your piercing or tattoo done properly, you can feel better about getting your ink or getting pierced. But before we dive into an in-depth discussion of how to get these piercings done right, let’s talk about how not to prepare for them. First of all, don’t try to rush through healing. It may seem like it takes forever and you want your new piece ASAP, but forcing yourself to wait is actually going to make things go smoother overall. It will be worth it in the end!

How long will it take until my skin completely heals?

Like any surgery, it is important to follow aftercare instructions to ensure your tattoo heals properly. These instructions may vary slightly based on your artist’s technique, but a typical tattoo should be fully healed in 8 weeks. If you feel pain or irritation more than 6 weeks after your procedure, contact a dermatologist. There are many possible reasons for continuing pain (infection, improper aftercare, nerve damage), so you will need to have an exam done to determine whether they are present. Additionally, while some people do experience soreness during their initial healing period, excessive itching or extreme pain indicates an allergic reaction to either a chemical component of the ink or a material used in your aftercare kit.