How Long Should a Tattoo Hurt and Be Sore For?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on October 1, 2021
    Last Updated: February 18, 2022

Having a tattoo can be a painful procedure and this pain can, and probably will continue for a few days after it’s completed. A tattoo is an open wound and should be treated as such. It should be looked after correctly with the right aftercare and this will help to ease any pain or discomfort that you are feeling.

The length of time that your tattoo will be sore can depend on the location of the tattoo on your body and the size. It can also depend on the intricacy of the tattoo design. 

We will let you know in more detail just how long it should hurt and be sore for. We will also share with you some tips to reduce any pain.

How Long Will the Pain of a Tattoo Last?

Getting a tattoo can be a daunting experience, especially if it’s your first one. You will be unsure about the pain of getting the tattoo and also about looking after it after the tattoo is completed. Both of these processes are equally as important as each other.

An average tattoo will hurt for around three days as this is when the healing process is starting. However, it can continue to be sore and tender for up to two weeks. 

If you are concerned about the tattoo pain or worried about infection, you should speak to your tattoo artist and then see your doctor for advice.

How Long Should a Tattoo Hurt and Be Sore For?

Getting a tattoo shouldn’t be a spontaneous decision as there are lots of factors to consider. You need to find the best tattoo artist for the work, the right design, and also understand the aftercare of a tattoo.

A tattoo is an open wound from a medical procedure of inserting needles into your skin so it’s expected to hurt. Once the tattoo is completed it will continue to be painful until it starts to heal. It will then still be sore and tender for a while as your body recovers and repairs itself following the procedure. 

The pain from the open wound should last for around three to four days. Once this starts to heal the skin will become dry and flaky and should be moisturized regularly to stop the skin from cracking. At this point, it shouldn’t cause you pain but will be sore and tender to touch. 

The soreness can last up to two weeks. It may be less than this depending on the size of the tattoo and the location on your body.

Are Different Body Areas More Painful?

The short answer to this is yes. The pain from your tattoo will increase when completed on different areas of your body. One of the reasons for this is the nerve endings in specific parts of your body, such as the feet, neck and face. 

Other areas could be more painful as they are joints that are moved regularly, such as the elbow, shoulder blades and hands. Moving the joints regularly will pull the skin and may damage the tattoo.

If the area of your body is painful to tattoo, it will be painful afterward when healing.

Why Is It Sore?

The tattoo process involves penetrating the skin with multiple needles, time and time again. As such, it will be a painful procedure and will cause slight trauma to your skin. The skin also needs to be stretched when getting a tattoo and this can also cause pain.

The needles don’t go deep into your skin but they still penetrate the skin at a rapid movement, which will cause some pain.

Is It Infected?

You should choose a tattoo studio with strict hygiene procedures. However, you still can’t be 100 percent sure that you won’t get an infection.

If your tattoo is showing abnormal signs of weeping after the first few days, is red or swollen you should speak to your tattoo artist and then your doctor. This could be infected and can then be easily treated with antibiotics.

What Can I Do To Make It Less Painful?

It’s normal for a healing tattoo to hurt and be sore and you should avoid putting anything on the tattoo to try to ease this. Adding creams or ointments may damage the tattoo or cause infection which will increase the pain.

It will only last for a few days, so try to toughen it out. Remember, no pain, no gain!


We hope that we answered your question and helped to put your mind at ease regarding the levels of pain from getting a tattoo.

Remember that it’s normal for it to be painful for a few days and it will continue to be sore and tender for up to two weeks. 

Anything beyond this or signs that your tattoo isn’t healing correctly, speak to your tattooist. They are the professional and see this every day, so would be the best person to seek for initial advice.

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