Do Thigh Tattoos Hurt?

April 3, 2022
Max Stevens
do thigh tattoos hurt

Planning to get a thigh tattoo and wondering do thigh tattoos hurt? Many celebrities and strangers may have shown off their stylish thigh tattoos. It looks cool and kind of badass as well, and we’re guessing you’re keen to get one.

But before you decide on a thigh tattoo, you need to know how much pain is involved? If you’re a newbie looking to get your first tattoo on your thighs, then you’re probably anxious about the answer to this very question.

Imagine getting a tattoo for the first time. You miscalculated the pain involved, so you back out and never try again out of pain. Not to mention the risk of hurting yourself if you squirm your way out of the tattoo chair while your artist is busy running the tattoo pen down your thigh.

So before you get that nice and stylish-looking tattoo, read this comprehensive tattoo guide we’ve written for you so you can decide for your best interests.

Thigh Tattoo: Does It Really Hurt?

illustration showing anatomy of thigh muscle with annotations
Anterior compartment anatomy of the thighs. 

Yes, thigh tattoos hurt, just as with any tattoo around. But there’s good news for people who dying to get this tattoo: the thigh area is one of the best places to get tattooed on. The thighs are full of large muscles that enable us to walk, sit, jump, run, and retain optimal balance.

The thighs are great for tattooing because of the large and powerful muscles found in that area. These muscles act as a cushion that eliminates the impact and pressure of the tattoo pen from reaching sensitive areas such as your bones and nerve endings. It’s also quite a ‘fatty’ area and that can help to reduce tattoo pain.

Tattoos on non-muscular and non-fleshy areas such as the ankles and fingers tend to hurt more since the tattoo pen can impacts bone.  However, thigh tattoos tend to heal faster because tattoo aftercare is much simpler. Not to mention the relative ease of hiding it if you deem it necessary.

Although the thigh is a great place to get a tattoo, pain sensitivities still vary from person to person because of several biological and psychological reasons. So if you want to play it safe and know some tips to manage thigh tattoo pain, continue reading below.

How To Manage Thigh Tattoo Pain?

Tanned girl with face portrait tattoo on upper thigh
Stylish portrait-style thigh tattoo.

Getting tattooed on the thigh is not as painful as getting tattooed on the neck, ankles, or wrists. Every tattoo hurts to some degree and their pain levels depend on the body area. So if you want to possibly reduce tattoo pain even further, heed these tips:

Eat healthily before your tattoo session. Hunger makes us irritated and unsettled. As tattoos sessions can last hours, it’s wise to make sure you have a full stomach before going into the studio. You can pick foods high in nutrients such as vitamin C to aid your skin healing properties and minerals such as zinc to reduce inflammation.

  • Have a good sleep the night before. Sleep for at least 7 hours the night before your tattoo procedure to properly prepare your body. Studies suggest a significant upward trend in pain sensitivity when a person is sleep-deprived. The more sleep-deprived you are, the more you’ll feel pain.
  • Think positively. People, particularly first-timers, can be somewhat nervous about what’s about to come. If you really want to get a thigh tattoo, remain steadfast with your decision and expect it to end on a good note. Expecting your tattoo session to feel and end badly will probably translate to real life. So think positively.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before the session. Aside from the fact that your artist will appreciate you coming to their shop sober-minded, drinking alcohol before your session will make things worse. You’re partly true and partly wrong if you think it dampens the pain. Alcohol indeed numbs pain, albeit minuscule, but it also thins the blood, so you’re more likely to bleed than if you’re sober.
  • Keep oral analgesics on hand. Painkillers can also help reduce thigh tattoo pain, but be sure to take it at least 30 minutes before the procedure so you can reap the effects. Paracetamol is one good analgesic, but be careful with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen since it can thin your blood, making your tattoo bleed more after the session.
  • Never forget about topical analgesics. If you fail to take an oral analgesic before your session, you can use topical analgesics. These are also available with your artist, so you can request to have one. However, artists usually use them for more painful tattoos. A word of caution, though, topical ibuprofen can also enter the bloodstream, so stay away from them if you do not want your tattoo to bleed more.

Is The Thigh A Good Place For A Tattoo?

If you’re asking this question with other tattoo placements in mind, then yes, thigh tattoos are a good idea. What makes the thigh an ideal place for a tattoo is its anatomical features, with large and powerful muscles residing in that particular area of the body.

Upper front thigh tattoo on girl with black shorts
A minimalist text-based thigh tattoo. Photo by cottonbro from Pexels.

Thigh tattoos do not hurt as much as areas of the body with little flesh and muscles, so it would be an excellent place to get a tattoo if you’re really concerned about pain. The thigh can also be easily cared for, especially in tattoo aftercare. It can be conveniently accessed with no difficulty.

You can easily bandage your thigh tattoo, wash it clean, and pat it dry with no problems. You should avoid UV rays on your tattoo, especially in its healing period. You can wear long trousers or shorts if you want the wound to have some fresh air, but always protect it from the sun.

As for workplace issues, tattooing your thigh is also advantageous since you can just wear trousers or some shorts to conceal it if your company isn’t too happy with noticeable tattoos.

The bad part about tattooing the thigh is that you will not be able to show it off gracefully and confidently instead of more noticeable tattoos such as hand tattoos, forearm tattoos, neck tattoos, face tattoos, and finger tattoos since it’s normally covered by legwear.

Do Thigh Tattoos Fade?

Definitely. Your thigh tattoo will start fading gradually as the years pass, and this is why it’s always worth going back to the studio for a top-up.

One positive factor about thigh tattoos is that they don’t have as much contact as areas such as the neck, hands, fingers, and wrists. This means it should last longer than those other body areas.

The thigh is safe from usual and constant friction, moisture, and sun exposure (the leading cause of premature fading). However, if you like wearing shorts all the time, make sure you get an SPF 45+ sunblock to prevent sun rays from fading your tattoo too fast.

Do Upper Thigh Tattoos Hurt?

Yes, upper thigh tattoos still hurt. But it does not hurt as much as the inner thigh or back of the thigh. This is because this area is well-padded with fat and muscles, which cushion the pressure and impact a tattoo pen produces while pricking the skin with ink.

You May Like: Do Calf Tattoos Hurt?

A good experiment to gauge the pain is running a pointed pen down your thigh with minimal pressure. From there, try running it down with more pressure if you don’t feel anything at all.

Do Outer Thigh Tattoos Hurt?

Yes, outer thigh tattoos also hurt. The outer thigh is just the same as the inner thigh: they’re packed with fat, flesh, and muscles that reduce the pain from the tip of the tattoo pen.

But just as with any tattoo, outer thigh tattoos will still hurt no matter what. Traditional tattoos always hurt, unless it’s a henna tattoo where dyeing compounds are applied with a pen rather than a tattoo needle.

The Bottom Line

Overall, thigh tattoos definitely hurt. As we said before, no traditional tattoo is pain-free, only henna ones. But the good part is that thigh tattoos do not hurt as much because of their anatomical features.

Thigh tattoos, in a nutshell, are:

  • easy to conceal
  • does not hurt much compared to other body areas
  • easy tattoo aftercare
  • easy to protect from premature fading
  • and cool as heck.

Thank your big and powerful muscles, fat, and skin when you get a thigh tattoo. They’ll be the ones who will absorb and reduce the pain you’ll most likely feel.

Rock on and enjoy your new thigh tattoo!


  • Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb, Anterior Thigh Muscles

  • Individual Differences in Pain: Understanding the Mosaic that Makes Pain Personal

  • Vitamin C and Skin Health

  • Zinc Therapy in Dermatology: A Review

  • Health Effects of Sleep Deprivation

  • Ibuprofen Uses, Dosage, & Side Effects


Max Stevens

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