Do Forearm Tattoos Hurt?

April 3, 2022
Max Stevens
do forearm tattoos hurt

The forearm is probably the most popular area to get tattooed on, as evident on strangers and celebrities alike.

If the day is warm, you’ll probably see people wearing tank tops, and you’ll also see their forearm tattoos. After all, it’s the most common tattoo area, so it makes sense if you want to get one on your forearm.

But before you make your decision, get to know the single biggest concern about tattoos first: pain. Knowing how forearm tattoos hurt is a great deal of knowledge if you’re a newbie and you would like to get this tattoo.

Imagine if you didn’t have any single clue about how much do forearm tattoos hurt. You would probably ask your tattoo artist to pause for a minute to catch your breath because of pain, or you may leave the shop with a half-complete tattoo.

These kinds of scenarios suck and are embarrassing to experience in real life. So this forearm tattoo pain guide was made to get you psychologically ready for your time in the tattoo chair.

Do Forearm Tattoos Really Hurt?

caucasian male with forearm tattoo
Slick-looking Japanese-style forearm tattoo. Photo by Kevin Bidwell from Pexels.

If you’re looking for a quick answer, yes, forearm tattoos hurt. But the good news about having a tattoo on your forearm is that they’re known as one of the least painful areas to get a tattoo.

The forearms are fleshy and muscular, making tattoos less painful. What makes tattoos hurt badly is the constant pressure and impact of the tip of the tattoo pen in the bones, making it feel more painful.

The bones, blood vessels, and nerves in the forearms are comfortably protected by the flesh and muscles, so they will be safe and sound during the tattoo procedure.

However, numerous factors can still influence the amount of pain you can experience from a forearm tattoo aside from the actual structure of your forearms, and we’ll discuss it down below.

Do Forearm Tattoos Hurt? Pain Factors

caucasian male with small planet forearm tattoo
Person with a minimalist forearm tattoo. Photo by SHVETS production from Pexels.

Forearm tattoos don’t hurt that much compared to other non-fleshy and non-muscular body parts. Although, anatomy alone is not the sole factor behind forearm tattoo pain experience. Here are some of the more nuanced pain factors involved:

Location of the Tattoo

The forearm is a long body part, and the wrist is part of the forearms too. That’s why the specific location of your forearm tattoo is a factor: where exactly do you want your tattoo to be? The area near the elbows or the area near the wrists?

Getting tattooed on the wrists and elbows hurt because they’re sensitive parts. The wrists, bones, tissues, nerves, and blood vessels expose you to the pain pricking of the tattoo pen.

You don’t have to worry about too much pain for the elbow area if you refrain from tattooing the pointy part of your elbow. If you want to tattoo the elbow joint, the pain problem kicks in. Meanwhile, the arm crease is relatively less painful since it is fleshy.

Tattoo Artist Skill and Experience Level

Even if the forearms don’t hurt as much as wrist, finger, ankle, or neck tattoos, if you use an amateur tattoo artist, you can still get hurt pretty badly.  

Getting tattooed by a professional will give you assurance and confidence that everything will go as planned and that your tattoo session will end well.

Another point is that professional tattoo artists probably have better customer service and customer satisfaction rates than amateur artists.

Pros, after all, have dedicated their time, efforts, and whole-being to be the professionals they are today. It takes those kinds of sacrifices to deliver such high-quality, safe, and great tattoos.

So if you want to settle for the best, then going to the chair and under the tattoo pen of a professional is best the way to go.

Initial Tattoo Experience

Are you a newbie? If you are, prepare to be in pain just a bit more than veterans who have multiple tattoos. This is because tattoo veterans already know how much getting tattooed hurts, so they know how to adjust their expectations and preparations.

Newbies, or those people getting forearm tattoos as their first tattoo, don’t have that luxury of the initial experience, which can probably make your very first tattoo painful. So tread and prepare carefully.

People who have been tattooed before also have the necessary knowledge and experience on adequately taking care of their tattoo, which reduces their overall tattoo pain experience.

How To Prepare For The Tattoo Procedure?

If you’re a newbie, here are some tips so you can prepare for your very first tattoo:

Have an adequate sleep the day before the procedure.

Sleep deprivation affects the way our brain processes discomfort and pain. Studies suggest that sleep deprivation increases our pain sensitivity, making you hurt more if you get yourself tattooed while having less sleep.

To go around this, make sure to sleep for the recommended 8 hours, so your mind and body are prepared for the procedure, reducing pain.

Painkillers can help subside the pain.

If you’re unsure whether you can tolerate the pain, you can have painkillers in advance to reduce the pain mid-session.

You can either use oral or topical painkillers. But don’t take them both together as it can pose an overdosage risk if the same ingredients, but a different absorption mode, is taken together.

Paracetamol is good for the oral route, while lidocaine is suitable for topical application. Use painkillers at least 30 minutes before, or you can request to have one if your artist has them on hand.

Eat a healthy meal before the procedure.

Hunger can make us irritated and upright moody, not to mention, we feel weak and fatigued when hungry.

Tattoo sessions can also take hours, and we know it’s embarrassing to hear your own tummy growl like a wolf aiming to threaten and intimidate its foe while getting your tattoo.

So before your session, make sure you eat a complete healthy meal to fuel your mind and body. You can pick foods high in minerals and nutrients such as vitamin C to augment your body’s natural healing properties.

Refrain from drinking alcohol before your session.

Though alcohol has minor pain dampening effects, it is harmful to drink alcohol before your session.

Apart from the fact that it’s not nice to come to your artist while drunk, your tattoo will probably bleed more than when you’re sober.

This is because alcohol has a blood-thinning effect, making your tattoo bleed more than usual. When your tattoo bleeds more, your artist may have to do needed revisions to ensure the tattoo ink sits within your skin.

Instead of alcohol, drink lots of water before your session, so your skin is plump and easier to work with.

Pros and Cons of a Forearm Tattoo


  • Easy tattooing since the area is relatively flat and easy to work with
  • Tattoo art is easy to show off since it is unobscured
  • Forearm tattoos are less painful compared to other tattoos
  • Forearm tattoos heal faster since you can conveniently clean and carefully observe their healing process


  • Forearm tattoos are hard to conceal. Jackets and long sleeves are the only options you have
  • As the tattoo is exposed, premature colour fading may occur due to sun exposure

Do Inner Forearm Tattoos Hurt?

If you want a quick answer to the question “do inner forearm tattoos hurt?” then yes, inner forearm tattoos hurt. Every single tattoo hurt anyway. But it doesn’t hurt that much compared to other sensitive areas such as the wrist, fingers, ankles, or neck.

The inner forearm has muscles that act as impact absorbers and paddings. This makes inner forearm tattoos not hurt as much since the muscles absorb the impact of the tattoo pen pricking the skin.

It might be more painful if you’re skinny since fat or muscles are too thin to absorb the pressure, and all that pressure is absorbed by the bone, making the tattoo procedure hurt.

The Tattoo Takeaway

Tattooing the forearm is relatively less painful than tattooing other sensitive body parts. So this is good news for you people who want to get this kind of tattoo.

It’s stylish and slick, and it really looks good as heck. Since this kind of tattoo is less painful, you can get it if you’re confident you can handle the factors we’ve listed above.

We wish you good luck and enjoy your fresh forearm tat!


  • Elbow and Forearm

  • Wrist Joint Anatomy

  • Total sleep deprivation increases pain sensitivity, impairs conditioned pain modulation and facilitates temporal summation of pain in healthy participants

  • Using medication: The safe use of over-the-counter painkillers

  • Vitamin C and Skin Health

  • Acute alcohol effects on conditioned pain modulation, but not temporal summation of pain


Max Stevens

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