Do Wrist Tattoos Hurt?

March 15, 2022
Max Stevens
do finger tattoos hurt

Wrist tattoos are cool and stylish, and if you strongly agree with us, then we’re guessing you’d like to have one. The question is, are you willing to be in pain to get this beautiful piece of art for your wrist? 

If you’re someone who hasn’t got any tattoo before, there’s a big problem: the uncertainty of what’s ahead. If you don’t know what and how much pain a wrist tattoo entails, you risk ruining the tattoo and your skin itself, and you may leave the tattoo chair with a ruined skin and a ruined tattoo experience which can make you despise tattoos. We don’t want that to happen. 

We don’t want you to leave the chair with a negative tattooing experience as tattoo enthusiasts. Read our wrist tattoo pain guide so you may avoid a tattoo pain nightmare. 

Do Wrist Tattoos Hurt?

anatomy of the wrist

Yes, wrist tattoos hurt. Although every tattoo, in general, would hurt, wrist tattoos are one of the most painful tattoos to have. Unlike the calves and forearms, the wrist does not have the luxury of having thick skin, fat, and muscles to protect from external trauma. 

So, anatomically speaking, the wrist is destined to hurt from the tip of the tattoo pen. The wrist is home to several nerves, muscles, and carpal bones which makes it vulnerable to pain.

And since the wrist is made that way, you would most likely feel the tip of the tattoo pen vibrating through your carpal bones for outer wrist tattoos and through your wrist’s tendons for inner wrist tattoos—we know, it looks grim.

Unfortunately, it’s just the way it is. However, there are still numerous factors in play that will determine the severity of the pain you’ll most likely experience in a wrist tattoo session. 

Tattoo Pain Factors

As mentioned earlier, factors in play determine how painful your wrist tattoo would be. These are some of the factors involved: 

  • Gender. Studies confirm that women generally have more painful tattoo experiences than men. The study also confirmed that women are more likely to have higher stress before the session than men. 
  • Psychological Readiness. People with negative expectations, higher stress, and lower confidence before the tattooing session are more prone to experiencing higher pain than counterparts with positive expectations.
  • Initial Experience. People with tattoos will have more leverage against pain than newbies, as people who have been tattooed before have a more positive outlook and confidence because of their prior experience. Initial experience and knowledge of caring for a tattoo also help reduce the pain. 
  • Tattoo Detail. A more detailed wrist tattoo would probably take longer than usual. In contrast with minimalist tattoos, a detailed one would require more strokes of the tattoo needle in one particular area repeatedly, making it more painful. Not to mention, your artist may do some reruns and revisions to gain more detail. 
  • Artist Skill Level. A professional tattoo artist will give you more confidence and assurance that every part of the tattooing process will be flawless and as quick as possible, making you hurt less. They also know the nuances of tattoo aftercare and can advise you thoroughly on how to take care of the tattooed area much better.

How to Make Your Tattoo Hurt Less

There are several ways to make your wrist tattoo hurt less. Here are some: 

  1. Opt for a smaller and less-detailed tattoo. More extensive and high detail tattoos take longer because of touch-ups and revisions. Detailing processes such as outlining, shading, and colouring also put much pressure on the same area of the skin, again and again, making it hurt more and possibly bleed more. 
  2. Get a professional to do it. Your wrist is a delicate body part, and you can’t be more vigilant than making sure pros do it. It’s a safer option which gives you more confidence and assurance that things wouldn’t go wrong. Professionals also finish tattoos quicker, which lessens the pain.
  3. Use a numbing gel or cream. Before your tattoo session starts, you can opt to use a local anaesthetic gel or cream to numb the area, so you get to enjoy reduced pain. Some artists also have gels and creams on hand, so you can request them applied before the tattooing session. 
  4. Distract yourself in session. Distracting yourself can reduce your attention to the pain itself. You can have a chat with your artist, listen to a favourite song and sing your hearts out (provided the artist is okay with your voice), or have a conversation with a companion if you have one.

Do Tattoo Placement Matter?

wrist anatomy

Yes, it does. Parts of the body with more nerves and bones tend to hurt more than fleshy and muscular ones because of the impact of the tattoo needle.

As mentioned earlier, in the case of the wrists, the area is full of nerves, muscles, and bones that make our hands mobile and useful. If these parts are subjected to the impact of the tattoo needle, it will hurt badly, especially the nerves, since they connect the hands to the brain, which senses pain and discomfort. 

Learn more about hand tattoo pain.

Do Inner Wrist Tattoos Hurt?

Yes, inner wrist tattoos do hurt because it directly impacts several nerves, muscles, and soft tissues such as the tendons. On the other hand, outer wrist tattoos hurt because it impacts the bones.

Studies have even documented a case of hyperalgesia—a heightened sense of pain and discomfort after an inner wrist tattoo session. The condition is known to affect people who undergo painful procedures or situations which can cause tissue damage, two of which are tattoos and piercings.

Do Wrist Tattoos Fade?

Yes, they do. Every tattoo fades at some point, so the real question is, when will a tattoo fade. To answer that, the wrist is just the extension of our hands, which means every time we wash our hands, our wrists often get washed as well. 

The wrist is also exposed to harmful sun rays, making colours fade faster than usual. Simply put, wrist tattoos may fade faster than other tattoos because they’re constantly washed with water and exposed to the sun. 

There is no specific timeline about when your wrist tattoo will fade. This depends on your practices, including regular touch-ups with your artist, sun protection, not letting the area get scrubbed too often, and giving the tattoo tender loving care. 

One way to prolong the vibrance of your tattoo is to diligently reduce washing and scrubbing the area with soap and apply sunblock every time you need to go outside. 

Are Wrist Tattoos Worth It?

It depends. If you’re determined to get one as a newbie, go for it. If you aren’t, you can always try somewhere else, like the forearm or the thighs. 

But as with any tattoo tattooed on any part of the body, wrist tattoos have pros and cons you need to consider before getting one:

Pros and Cons of Getting Tattooed on The Wrist


  • Wrist tattoos are visible tattoos allowing you to be yourself by showing off your unique and stylish tattoo. 
  • Wrist tattoos are cheaper than most tattoos since they’re smaller.
  • Wrist tattoos can be easier to conceal by wearing long sleeves, bracelets, or a watch.
  • Wrist tattoos are conveniently placed—you can see them often if you like to look at your body art. 
  • The wrist can be great for minimalist tattoos, given its smaller surface area. 


  • The wrist contains sensitive areas such as nerves, muscles, tissues, and bones, making the tattoo more painful than other parts of the body.
  • The wrist is constantly scrubbed and washed from handwashing, making it fade faster.
  • Wrist tattoos are easily exposed to the sun making vibrant colours dull faster. 
  • The wrist is exposed to the environment, making tattoo aftercare longer than usual. 
  • Wrist tattoos may hinder your job application, as some companies aren’t too happy with visible tattoos.

The Takeaway

Wrist tattoos are great tattoos to have: they’re stylish, minimal, and even unique, depending on your choice of art. But while they’re great to have, it’s good to know the nuances of wrist tattoos, particularly the pain. 

Wrist tattoos can be less painful, moderately painful, or incredibly painful for some. So it pays well to understand what risks, advantages, disadvantages, and benefits your tattoo may have. 

In summary, wrist tattoos hurt. Although we can’t say for sure how much pain it can bring since every person has different pain thresholds, you can know how much if you take into heart the factors we talked about, and you’re determined to get that pretty-looking slick wrist tattoo. Enjoy your tattoo!



Max Stevens

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