Everybody knows that tattooing is an inherently painful event. After all, there's no way that constant bodily intrusion from a small group of needles is going to tickle. That said, not all tattoo locations are created equal. People's individual pain tolerance – not to mention the vulnerability of different areas of the body – can result in drastically different experiences under the needle.
While it's important to have an understanding of what your personal level of pain management is, if you're considering a round in the tattoo chair, here are a few areas that tend to be widely known for being particularly tender.
Recent fashion trends have highlighted an emphasis on the ribcage as the new en vogue tattoo location du jour. Unfortunately for many unwitting tattoo recipients, while the ribs may be a hot new tattoo trend, the location is also known for being fairly high on the list of body real estate for the faint of heart to avoid. It seems deceptive – after all, the torso is a hearty part of the body, as any boxer can tell you – but don't be fooled. The relatively thin skin covering your ribs and their fairly close proximity to the surface makes them a veritable magnet for tattoo pain, bringing a whole new kind of tattoo regret to the table for those who are unprepared. A similar area to watch out for, not surprisingly, is the spine. This other torso tattoo hotspot is best avoided due to the high concentration of nerves in the area.
You may think people would have to be crazy to tattoo their face, but the truth is, it's not nearly as uncommon an occurrence as you might believe. In fact, far from the province of inmates and gangsters, facial tattoos come in a wide variety. From around the eyes to behind the ears to even inside the lower lip, practically the only thing these tattoos have in common is that they're incredibly painful to have administered. The thin skin and lack of significant muscle tone north of the neck means that there's little in place to cushion nerves from needles, amounting to a bone-rattling session in the chair.
People are usually quick to dissuade others from getting tattoos on their hands due to the difficulty they're bound to experience if and when it comes time to try and cover them up. But there's another reason you may want to rethink that decision to get your hands inked – it hurts. While not traditionally a sensitive area like underarms or the bikini zone – another ill-advised tattoo spot for many – to a tattoo needle, your hands are little more than a collection of tiny bones wrapped in a thin layer of skin, with a high concentration of nerve endings to boot. When you stop and think about the fact that your hands, specifically your fingers, are the primary way you experience sensation, this starts to make a bit more sense.
Those in-between spaces
Think about the last time your older brother or sister tried to tickle you under your arms, or behind your knees or even behind your neck, and how uncomfortable that was. Now imagine that instead of tickling, they're tattooing you, and you'll have a sense of what getting inked in these hotspots can feel like. Not only is there thin skin to contend with, but the constant movement your joints experience means these areas tend to take longer to heal as well, making tattoos in such areas an even more unpleasant prospect.
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