Foot Tattoo Pain: How Much Do Feet Tattoos Hurt?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on August 12, 2019
    Last Updated: February 28, 2021

Some tattoos hurt more than others depending on different factors. One factor happens to be where the tattoo is located. In this piece of our tattoo pain series, we will be discussing foot tattoo pain and how much foot tattoos hurt.

Do Foot Tattoos Hurt?

Yes, foot tattoos do hurt – but so do all other tattoos. You must remember that all tattoos hurt to some extent, and foot tattoos are no different.

However, generally, foot tattoos are described as being much more painful than other areas of the body.

The are many factors as to why this may be the case, but the main problem is that the area of skin surrounding the whole foot is very thin and full of nerve endings.

When the skin is very thin, especially when on top of bone, the pain caused by the tattooing needles can be very discomforting.

Unfortunately, the feet are generally bony everywhere – and even the places that aren’t particularly bony are very sensitive (such as the bottom of your feet). 

As the tattooing needles will almost-certainly be getting close to the bone during the foot tattooing process, you will likely feel quite a strong rattling/vibrating sensation where the needles are entering, and this feeling/pain can be quite uncomfortable.

Saying all of that though – many people have also had foot tattoos and didn’t think the pain was that bad at all.

What a tattoo feels like however, is generally decided based on how you personally are able to cope with pain and discomfort.

The pain suffered in various situations is completely different from person-to-person, and therefore you may be able to get a foot tattoo and not feel too much discomfort at all, so don’t let the past experiences of a select few people put you off. Besides, you’ll never know how bearable the pain is until you try getting a foot tattoo.

How to make tattoos hurt less:

Foot Tattoo Pain Spots

Top of Foot Tattoo Pain

The top of the foot is extremely bony with very thin skin and many nerve endings. If you decide to get a tattoo here, be prepared to suffer some pain.

Side of Foot Tattoo Pain

This area of the feet is a bit more soft and cushioned, and therefore the pain shouldn’t be as intense as it is on the top of the feet.

However, due to the small surface area of the side of your feet, the tattoo will likely creep towards the top of the feet anyway, which as mentioned, could be quite a painful area to get inked on.

Bottom of Foot Tattoo Pain

This area of the foot isn’t tattooed much due to a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the skin is awfully wrinkled, and this can make it difficult for the artist to draw a perfect looking tattoo.

Secondly, the tattoo isn’t going to look nice for very long. The amount of wear that the bottom of your feet suffer from means that the tattoo will likely fade very quickly.

With regard to how much bottom of the foot tattoos hurt – they will likely still be as painful as tattoos on the top.

Although this area isn’t at all bony, the skin is generally very sensitive, and again, has many nerve endings towards the surface which can intensify the pain caused by the tattooing needles (have you ever accidentally stepped on a LEGO brick!?).

Toe Tattoo Pain

The toes are very bony, and toe tattoos do hurt a lot for the vast majority of people that are crazy enough to get them. Generally speaking, the higher up the toe the needles go, the more painful it’s going to be for you.

However, as your toes are not very big in terms of area, the tattooing process is going to be over quite quickly, so as long as you can fight through a short amount of intense pain, you should be good to go.

How to Make Foot Tattoos Hurt Less

Choose a Small/Simple Design

The feet have become very popular areas to get tattooed on. Many tattoos being placed onto the foot area are small and relatively basic, but a large amount of them still manage to look amazing.

The smaller the tattoo, the less amount of time you will be in pain for.

Pick a Gentle Artist

When tattooing an area as bony the foot, you will want an artist who is experienced and isn’t too rough & heavy-handed.

Remember though, it doesn’t matter which artist you pick, you will still, unfortunately, have to suffer some amount of pain due (it’s still a tattoo, after all), but some artists are generally more gentle than others.

Use a Tattoo Numbing Cream

If you’re worried that you may not be able to fight through the pain during your tattoo session, then it may be worth trying to apply a numbing product to your foot before your session.

Although the effectiveness of most numbing products can vary a lot between people, many are extremely happy with the amount of numbing that their chosen product achieves.

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.

How to Care for a Foot Tattoo

You will have to be extremely careful when looking after your new foot tattoo due to how much the feet are normally used day-to-day.

When your tattoo is finished, you’re going to have to ensure you do everything you can to prevent any rubbing against the inked area.

It will definitely help to stay away from wearing any footwear for a few days if possible, although this may, unfortunately, mean taking a few days off work to ensure the tattoo heals as best as possible. Your foot may also swell up for a day or two, making it difficult to walk.

To help prevent any scabs from being torn off when you wear socks or footwear, it will best to keep the area well moisturized with a good tattoo lotion to ensure the scabs don’t become too dry and cracked.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing. Click here to buy from Amazon.


Foot tattoos can definitely be very painful, but on the other hand, lots of people also advise that getting inked on the feet isn’t as bad as others describe. Obviously, however, amounts of pain will always vary from person to person.

In terms of foot tattoo pain – when compared to other areas of skin covering the body, the pain is regarded as being higher than average for most people, but not so painful that you should stop thinking about getting one. You must remember though, how much foot tattoos hurt is all dependent on the person getting the tattoo!