Do hand tattoos hurt? – Know the truth before getting inked

One of the best hand designs on this list by far.
One of the best hand designs on this list by far.

Many people avoid getting tattoos on body parts which are visible. This is typically due to the fact that many employers frown up on them, that society is going to judge people, and that many people simply do not like to showcase a belief, religion, or other messages, clearly on visible areas of this skin. This is why individuals who tend to get hand tattoos are far more daring than others; in fact, many people who do have hand tattoos have them as a sign of rebellion, they choose religious symbols, and in many cases, hand tattoos are gang signs. But, do hand tattoos hurt?

For those who are considering the possibility of inking up their hands, you obviously want to know the answer to the question do hand tattoos hurt, and if so, how much? In short, yes the area of the body is one which is not padded at all, is extremely bony, and the skin is extremely thin. All of this leads to a more painful experience when getting tattooed on the hands.

Level of pain

skull-on-chestIn comparison to areas of the body which have higher fat content, such as stomach, calves, thighs, or other fatty areas, the level of pain one will experience on the hand is far higher than other areas of the body. But, for those who want to know do hand tattoos hurt, even though the answer is yes, the level of pain is going to differ based on a variety of factors. So, what will determine the answer to the question do hand tattoos hurt, and what will determine the level of pain? Some factors which will contribute to pain levels are:

  • Your personal threshold for pain – Some individuals have tattoos on all areas of the body, including face, lips, mouth, chest, and other very sensitive body parts. For these individuals, you have probably built up a higher threshold for pain, which will result in lower pain levels being experienced when tattooing the hands.  For those that are looking for the most attractive tattoos for a girl as their first tattoo, that rib tattoo is going to hurt!
  • Where it is – Areas such as the palms, fingers, or web in between your fingers (near the thumb and index finger), is more painful than other areas. This is namely due to the sensitivity of the area, the fact that there is little fat on the area, and the fact that there are several small bones in the area.
  • Padding level – Again, your hands have far less padding and fat than other areas of the body. This in and of itself is going to equate to higher levels of pain. So, areas which are thinner on the hands, and have less padding, will result in higher pain levels.
  • The size of the tattoo, whether it is color or black and white, the tattoo artist’s experience level, and the equipment being used, will all contribute to your pain levels as well. Further, some individuals tend to experience discomfort, more so than pain, so this is also something to keep in mind when you want to know the answer to the question do hand tattoos hurt.

Possibility for infection

Another reason why tattoos on the hands tend to be more painful than other areas, is the risk for infection. The fact that you use your hands regularly, that they sweat more than other areas of the body, and the fact that your hands come into contact with so many surfaces each day, all leads to an increased possibility for infection. So, it is not only the physical pain you have to concern yourself with if you choose to get a tattoo on the hand, but also the possibility for infection, swelling, rashes, and other complications which can occur.

One way to prevent, or at least minimize possibility for infection is to go to a trusted, reputable tattoo artist. Make sure they use clean needles, sanitize everything before tattooing you, and continually keep their shop clean. All of this is going to make the area safer for you to get a tattoo, and will reduce the risk of infection. It is also a good idea to leave your hands idle for a few days after getting the tattoo. Doing so is going to minimize pain and discomfort, will reduce the possibility of infection, and will allow the skin to quickly heal after you do get a tattoo on the area. Make sure you fully understand all risks prior to getting your hands tattooed, as well as the areas which are more prone to infection on the hands, so that you can better determine whether or not to get the tattoo, and if you choose to do so, where on the hands to have it placed.

Color ink

The blue Buddha really looks great in this simple arm design.
The blue Buddha really looks great in this simple arm design.

Believe it or not, the answer to your question do hand tattoos hurt will also differ based on the color of your tattoo. Since most color tattoos require more pressure to be applied, and typically do not enter the skin pigments as easily as black tattoos, the tattoo artist might have to go over certain areas of the hand several times. This is going to result in higher levels of pain and discomfort. And, depending on the color, and your skin type, it might require more pressure and going over the same area several times, for certain colors to penetrate the skin. So, if you are considering a butterfly hand tattoo, keep in mind that color tattoos will typically hurt more than a black tattoo on the hand as well.

Tattoos are painful, anyone who tells you otherwise is not being completely honest with you. Hand tattoos are one of the most painful you are going to get, simply because of the location, the thin skin layers, and the fact that your hands have little to no padding to provide an additional barrier of protection. So, for individuals considering a hand tattoo, and asking the question do hand tattoos hurt, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn they are painful. And, it shouldn’t surprise you that it is going to be one of the areas of the body which is going to experience higher levels of pain when the tattoo artist is working on your hands.