Tattoos and Pain: A Practical Guide to Managing Discomfort


Tattoos are an increasingly popular form of personal expression. From intricate designs to symbolic representations, the motivations behind getting inked are as diverse as the designs themselves. But there’s one thing almost everyone thinks about before getting a tattoo: the pain. In Bristol tattoo shops, and indeed anywhere around the globe, managing discomfort during a tattoo session is a common concern for clients. This article provides practical tips to guide you through the process and make it as comfortable as possible.

Understanding Tattoo Pain

Firstly, it’s important to know that pain is a subjective experience and can vary greatly from person to person. However, certain universal factors can influence the level of discomfort you might feel during a tattoo session. These factors include the location of the tattoo, the size and complexity of the design, and your personal pain threshold.

Areas with a lot of nerve endings or close to the bone, such as the ribs, feet, hands, and face, tend to be more sensitive. Larger and more detailed designs may require longer sessions, which can also increase discomfort.

Preparation is Key

Before your tattoo appointment, there are several things you can do to help minimise pain. Try to get a good night’s sleep, as fatigue can lower your pain tolerance. Eating a nutritious meal before your session can stabilise your blood sugar levels, preventing dizziness or fainting.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can thin your blood and make the process more painful. Drinking plenty of water is also recommended to ensure you’re well-hydrated.

Pain Management During the Session

During the tattooing process, employing some mental strategies can help manage the pain. Deep, controlled breathing can have a calming effect and help your body relax. You could also distract yourself by listening to music, watching a movie, or talking to your tattoo artist or a companion.

Topical numbing creams can also be used, but it’s best to discuss this with your tattoo artist beforehand, as some believe it can affect the quality of the tattoo.

Aftercare and Healing

Once your tattoo is complete, proper aftercare is crucial to minimise discomfort and promote healing. Follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist. This generally involves cleaning the tattoo with mild, unscented soap, applying a thin layer of healing ointment, and keeping the tattoo moisturised with a non-scented lotion.

Avoid scratching or picking at the tattoo as it heals, as this can cause additional pain and might damage the tattoo. Wearing loose clothing over the tattooed area can also help minimise irritation.

Embracing the Tattoo Journey

Getting a tattoo involves more than just enduring pain – it’s about embracing a journey of self-expression and transformation. Understanding and preparing for the discomfort associated with tattooing can empower you to handle the process with grace and resilience. Remember, every tattoo tells a story, and the process of getting it is part of that narrative. With these tips, hopefully your tale will be less about the pain and more about the beautiful piece of art you now carry with you.