How Bad Do Armpit Tattoos Hurt?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 22, 2020
    Last Updated: January 3, 2021

As you would expect, the armpit area is one of the most painful places to get a tattoo. No wonder many tattoo artists advise people against getting underarm artwork.

However, the results may be worth it. Many armpit tattoos are beautiful and can complement your other body art really well. Ornate flowers and patterns are particularly popular choices for this kind of tattoo. Other striking armpit tattoo designs include 3D designs, dragons and eyes.

How Bad Do Armpit Tattoos Hurt?

Getting armpit tattoos can be a painful yet ticklish experience. 

On a scale from 1 to 10, armpit tattoos are generally a solid 9. It is on par with head and knee tattoos and even more painful than face and neck tattoos. Forearm and lower arm tattoos, which are some of the least painful tattoos to get, are probably closer to a 3.

The process of getting a tattoo on this area of your body can be intimidating for some, especially if you’re planning your first tattoo. On the other hand, if you have gotten tattoos before, particularly on your head, knee, face and neck, you will probably be able to handle getting an armpit tattoo.

For people wanting a little extra assistance for dealing with the pain, a good tattoo numbing cream can really help to take the edge off.

One of the most effective tattoo numbing products currently on the market is Zensa Numbing Cream, which contains the highest level of Lidocaine allowed by the FDA for over-the-counter use. The feedback left by thousands of customers for this product is nothing short of exceptional.

Just follow the instructions supplied with the cream and apply shortly before your tattoo appointment is due to begin so that you can look forward to a less painful and more comfortable tattooing experience. The amount of cream you get in a tube also ensures you have more than enough for a large tattoo. Click here to buy from Amazon

You should also keep in mind that it can take a long time for armpit tattoos to heal due to the enclosed spacing and constant friction. During the healing period, you cannot shave your tattooed armpit, wear tight shirts or apply deodorant to the area. 

Why Does It Hurt So Much To Get an Armpit Tattoo? 

One of the reasons armpit tattoos hurt so much is because of the presence of the axillary nerve.

The axillary nerve is the main nerve going up and down your arm and is connected to many nerve endings in your armpit, making your armpit sensitive to pain. This means that tattoos in this area can be painful, though it can also be ticklish. 

Another reason why it hurts to get an armpit tattoo is that it is hard to stay still when getting a tattoo there. Not only will you have to keep your arm in a certain position as the tattoo artist works out the design, you will also have to resist the urge to flinch when things get incredibly painful or ticklish.

Armpit tattoos also hurt because of the presence of lymph nodes in your armpit. Lymph nodes are small “filters” that remove harmful substances throughout your body. Packed with immune cells that can help fight infection by targeting and wiping out foreign material, lymph nodes are particularly sensitive to pain. This is because your arm usually covers these nodes. 

The Very Real Risks of Getting an Armpit Tattoo

Armpit tattoos aren’t only painful, they can also be risky because of the presence of lymph nodes in your armpit. 

Getting an armpit tattoo may irritate and enlarge your lymph nodes as they may interpret the ink from your armpit tattoo as foreign material that needs to be removed from your body. 

Accordingly, your lymph nodes will dispatch immune cells to attack the ink in your armpit tattoo. These immune cells will then carry the ink back to the lymph node for processing, causing them to darken and enlarge. 

Swollen lymph nodes are not fun to deal with. They feel like tender lumps in your armpits and can cause sharp pains when you make sudden or strained movements. As such, you need to consider the possibility of getting swollen lymph nodes before deciding to get an armpit tattoo. 


To sum it up, it is painful to get an armpit tattoo. Not only does it hurt, but it comes with the risks we have covered above. If you think you won’t be able to handle the pain, perhaps an armpit tattoo may not be for you, since nobody wants a partially-finished tattoo.

Nonetheless, if you are still raring to get one of those ornate armpit tattoos, you should do so with caution. If you can handle the pain and the risks, and you are looking for a striking yet discreet tattoo, an armpit tattoo may be a good option for you.

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