Do Finger Tattoos Hurt?

April 3, 2022
Max Stevens
do finger tattoos hurt

Ahh it’s getting close to the tattoo time but the dreaded question keeps popping up in your head – “do finger tattoos hurt?”.

You may have seen your favourite artists gracefully show off their finger tattoos, or you might have seen your friends have one, so you want it too. It’s nice to look at, so it’s nice to have, right?

But before you follow through, there are important things you need to consider. One of those is the biggest concern of getting a finger tattoo: pain. Pain is a given in every tattoo, but you need to be up and ready for finger tattoos.

If you can’t handle the pain of getting a finger tattoo, chances are, you will ruin your tattoo, and you may also have a skin injury if you aren’t ready and composed. Imagine you left off with an unfinished tattoo, and you can’t use 100% of your finger’s mobility because of the pain.

Worse, you may leave the tattoo chair behind with a negative experience and a major possibility of never trying out any kind of tattoo again, ever.

We don’t want you to have a negative experience in the tattoo chair, and we don’t want to leave you uninformed of the risks a finger tattoo elicits, so we made this guide to help you out.

Are Finger Tattoos Painful?

If you want a quick answer whether finger tattoos hurt, yes, they do hurt. As pictured above, the fingers are bony structures with soft connecting tissues such as the tendons and ligaments to support the versatile movement of the fingers.

illustration showing all finger bones and tendons
The internal structure of the finger.

The skin in the fingers is so thin you could see through some of your finger’s bones if you shine a medium-powered torchlight there. You can go ahead and try that little experiment and see for yourself how thin the skin in the fingers is.

Since the finger has a bony structure, the tattoo pen will impact the bones and connective tissues, making the area being tattooed more painful, if not much more painful as other parts of the body. The same holds for the thinness of the skin: thinner skin means less protection and cushion from the tattoo needle, which then translates to more significant pain.

However, if you’re asking how much finger tattoos hurt, we’re afraid we cannot give you a definite and convincing answer. If you ask why every person has different pain thresholds, and if a finger tattoo hurts for you, it may not hurt that much for some and vice-versa.

The consensus in the tattoo industry is that finger tattoos hurt more than fleshy and muscular areas such as the forearms, thighs, legs, and tummy. The fingers do not have the luxury of having many muscles, fats, or thick skin to protect it from the tattoo needle.

How To Make Finger Tattoos Less Painful?

detailed finger tattoo in henna method on left hand
Hand and finger tattoo with eccentric patterns. Photo by Mehndi Training Center from Pexels.

Since we already discussed that finger tattoos indeed hurt, you may wonder how can you reduce the pain you can encounter. Here are some tips to reduce pain:

  • Use a numbing gel or cream. Using a numbing gel or cream can reduce the pain you may encounter mid-session. Your artist may have these gels or creams on hand, and you can request to have one, but sometimes they might give you one without you asking if they deem it necessary, especially for sites renowned for their severe pain.
  • Have a healthy sleep the night before your session. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation or the lack of sleep can cause your nervous system to mess up, leading to an uptick in your body’s pain sensitivity. Aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before to prepare your body.
  • Make sure you’re 100% prepared mentally. Before you get a finger tattoo, it helps to be 100% prepared mentally. That means you’re excited to have the tattoo, you’re aware of the possible pain, and you’re not letting that possibility stop you from getting a tattoo. People with negative expectations tend to be in much pain compared to people who have positive expectations before tattooing, so it helps to be prepared.
  • Get a professional to do your finger tattoo. Imagine this: you need surgery, and you have two options: get an experienced surgeon to do it or get an intern to do it. Who would you choose? We’re guessing you’d prefer the experienced one. You should always select pro artists, given their trusted skills and experience in the tattoo industry. Simply put, fewer skills and experience translate to more pain and vice-versa.

How Long Does A Finger Tattoo Heal?

It depends. Because fingers are often used in daily life it makes finger tattoos harder to care for and take longer to heal. And since the fingers are considered contact areas together with the palm, infections can occur within the site if you’re not careful what and where you touch things which effectively prolongs the tat’s healing process.

However, finger tattoos generally heal in 4 to 6 weeks, and this period depends on how careful you are with your finger tattoo. To make it heal faster, do these aftercare tips:

  • After the finger tattoo session, keep your tattoo covered with bandages for at least 8 hours to protect it from debris and microorganisms.
  • Wash it daily with mild soap and warm water to keep germs at bay. Remember to only use mild soap as using the opposite will sting a lot.
  • After washing, you can use a protective moisturiser in cream or gel type like petroleum jelly to lock in moisture to the site, promoting healing. It also protects against germs and debris since the cream and gel are germ traps or barriers.
  • If possible, avoid long sun exposure so your tattoo will heal optimally. Sun exposure can also fade your finger tattoo prematurely, so we encourage you to cover the tattoo while healing.
  • When your tattoo has developed scabs, don’t pick at it. They’re there for a reason, and they signify the tattoo is indeed healing. Aftercare is naturally allowing the tattoo to heal.
  • If you see unusual things like rashes, blisters, bumps, or swelling in the area, contact your GP for appropriate medical advice.

How Long Does A Finger Tattoo Last?

We don’t know for sure, but finger tattoos start to fade 6 to 8 months after it has completely healed, and colour may fade away after a full year.

Related Read: Do Wrist Tattoos Hurt?

This has to do with our extensive use of the fingers: we people handwash often, it gets scrubbed and exfoliated too often, it gets exposed in the sun and many more factors that fade the tattoo over a short amount of time.

Since finger tattoos don’t last that long, artists recommend regular touch-ups so you can retain the beauty and colour vibrance of your finger tattoo.

Do Ring Finger Tattoos Hurt?

Yes, they do. The ring finger is just like every single finger, for that matter: they are bony and have thin skin that makes it susceptible to impact from the tip of the tattoo pen, more specifically, the tiny needles that prick the skin so the ink would stick.

Ring finger tattoos generally hurt the same as thumb, index finger, middle finger, and pinky finger tattoos since they are all bony and have thin skin.

Do Fingernail Tattoos Hurt?

No, they don’t. You might feel a little amount of pressure from the tattoo pen, but there’s nothing more than that. The nails have hard surfaces made of keratin—the same substance our body uses to produce hair follicles. And since the nails are hard, most people would most likely not feel a single ounce of pain.

The downside of fingernail tattoos is that they don’t last long. They only last about 3-6 weeks, considering the fingernail’s growth and other fading factors such as handwashing. But the upside is that they’re also quick: your artist might only take 3 hours at most, but it still depends on the tattoo detail level.

Tattoo Pain Takeaway

Getting tattooed in the fingers can be painful, if not more painful than other body areas. But let’s face it, getting a finger tattoo is satisfying since it is placed in a part of the body where people would see it without any difficulty.

It’s also easy to look at, and we know that looking at your body art leaves a good feeling of happiness and pride, knowing that you endured pain just to get this beautiful piece of body art.

Now that you know the pain involved, how to reduce it, and how to care for it, you’re now ready to rock, knowing you are equipped with the right knowledge of taking on a finger tattoo! Rock on, and enjoy your tat!


  • The Finger Joints.

  • Evaluation of the S-Caine Peel for Induction of Local Anesthesia for Laser-Assisted Tattoo Removal: Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Multicenter Study.

  • Total sleep deprivation increases pain sensitivity, impairs conditioned pain modulation, and facilitates temporal summation of pain in healthy participants.,to%20cold%20and%20pressure%20pain.

  • Emotional and Cognitive Influences on Pain Experience.

  • Postoperative wound care after dermatologic procedures: a comparison of 2 commonly used petrolatum-based ointments.

  • All About Scabs.

  • Keratin – an overview.


Max Stevens

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