Can You Get a Tattoo if You Have a Fear of Needles?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on March 22, 2023
    Last Updated: April 7, 2023

Tattoos have become increasingly popular over the years, but the thought of getting a tattoo can be daunting for those who have a fear of needles. However, there are several ways to overcome this fear and get the tattoo you’ve always wanted.

Why Tattoo Needles Aren’t as Scary as Regular Needles

Although tattoo needles may seem daunting to those with a fear of needles, they are not the same as regular medical needles. There are several reasons why tattoo needles aren’t as scary as regular medical needles.

Tattoo Needles are Smaller

Tattoo needles are considerably smaller than regular medical needles. The needles used for tattoos are typically between 1 and 3 millimeters in diameter, while medical needles can range from 16 to 22 gauge or larger. This difference in size can make the tattoo needle less intimidating to those with a fear of needles.

Tattoo Needles are Not Hollow

Unlike medical needles, which are typically hollow to allow for the injection of fluids or the extraction of blood, tattoo needles are solid. This means that the tattoo needle does not penetrate as deeply into the skin as a medical needle, making it less painful.

Tattoo Needles are Not Used for Injections

Tattoo needles are not used for injections, which can be a source of anxiety for those with a fear of needles. Instead, the tattoo needle is used to deposit ink into the skin. This means that the sensation of the tattoo needle is different from the sensation of a medical needle.

Tattoo Needles are Part of a Creative Process

Finally, it’s important to remember that tattoo needles are part of a creative process. Unlike medical needles, which are used for clinical procedures, tattoo needles are used to create art on the body. The process of getting a tattoo can be a positive and exciting experience for many people, which can help to alleviate any fear or anxiety associated with the needle.

Coping Methods

Choose a Less Painful Spot for Your Tattoo

When getting a tattoo, the placement of the tattoo can play a significant role in the level of pain experienced. Some areas of the body, such as the ribs or feet, can be more sensitive to pain than others. Consider getting a tattoo in a less painful spot, such as the upper arm or thigh, if you have a fear of needles.

Communicate with Your Tattoo Artist

Communication with your tattoo artist is essential when getting a tattoo, especially if you have a fear of needles. Inform your tattoo artist of your fear so they can provide additional support and reassurance throughout the process. Many tattoo artists are willing to take breaks during the tattoo session if you need a moment to relax and calm down.

Ask Your Tattoo Artist to Show You the Needles

For some people, the fear of needles may stem from not knowing what to expect. If this is the case, consider asking your tattoo artist to show you the needles they will be using. This can help demystify the process and alleviate any anxiety about the unknown. It’s important to note that tattoo needles are not the same as medical needles and are designed to be less invasive.

Try Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques can be beneficial when trying to overcome a fear of needles. Deep breathing, visualization, and meditation are excellent ways to help calm your mind and body during the tattoo process. It’s also a good idea to bring a stress ball or other item to squeeze during the tattoo to help distract from the sensation.

View Topical Anesthetic Cream

If you’re extremely anxious about getting a tattoo, you can consider using a topical anesthetic cream. These creams can help numb the skin and reduce the level of pain experienced during the tattoo process. However, it’s essential to discuss this option with your tattoo artist beforehand as it can impact the quality of the tattoo.

Bring a Support Person

Having someone with you during the tattoo process can be a great way to overcome a fear of needles. A supportive friend or family member can provide encouragement and help distract you during the tattoo process.

Remember the End Result

Finally, it’s important to remember the end result of the tattoo. Tattoos are a form of self-expression and can hold significant personal meaning. Focusing on the end result can help alleviate any fear or anxiety associated with the tattoo process.

We also have some extra tips to help give you the best chance of getting the tattoo you’ve always dreamed of:

  • Research Tattoo Shops and Artists: Take the time to research different tattoo shops and artists in your area. Look for artists who have experience working with clients who have a fear of needles, and read reviews from previous clients to get a sense of their bedside manner and how they handle nervous clients.
  • Prepare Yourself Mentally: It can be helpful to mentally prepare yourself for the tattoo process by visualizing a positive outcome and reminding yourself of why you want the tattoo. You can also try talking to a therapist or counselor to work through any underlying anxiety or fears.
  • Consider Distractions: Distracting yourself during the tattoo process can be a useful technique to help manage anxiety. Consider bringing headphones and listening to calming music or an audiobook, or bringing a book or puzzle to focus on during breaks.
  • Take Breaks: It’s okay to take breaks during the tattoo process if you need to. Communicate with your tattoo artist beforehand about how you’re feeling and make a plan for breaks if needed.
  • Bring a Comfort Item: Bringing a comfort item, like a stuffed animal or blanket, can help provide a sense of security and comfort during the tattoo process.
  • Use Positive Affirmations: Repeating positive affirmations, such as “I am strong and capable” or “I can handle this,” can help calm your nerves and give you a sense of control during the tattoo process.
  • Consider Small Tattoos: If you’re still feeling nervous about getting a tattoo, consider starting with a small design to test the waters. You can always add to it later if you decide you want more ink.


Getting a tattoo can be intimidating for those with a fear of needles, but there are several ways to overcome this fear. Choosing a less painful spot for your tattoo, communicating with your tattoo artist, trying relaxation techniques, considering topical anesthetic cream, bringing a support person, and focusing on the end result are all effective ways to make the tattoo process more manageable.

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