Rib Tattoo Pain - How Much Do Rib Tattoos Hurt?

Some tattoos hurt more than others depending on many different factors. One of the many factors happens to be the location of the tattoo. In this part of our tattoo pain series we'll be talking about rib tattoo pain and how much rib tattoos hurt for most people.


Rib Tattoo Pain

Do Rib Tattoos Hurt?

For the vast majority of people, yes, they do... But not everyone. 

As already mentioned, tattoo pain is different for everyone, and just because the majority of people tend to agree that rib tattoo pain is somewhat worse that most other areas.

This isn't to say that you're going to feel the same amount of discomfort though.

How Much Do Rib Tattoos Hurt

However - you must also remember that you will feel at least some pain and discomfort.

After all, you're getting multiple needles jabbed into your skin many thousands of times a minute - but this goes for all areas of your body, not just your ribs.

In terms of how much rib tattoos hurt - as stated above, many people do find the rib cage a particularly painful place to get tattooed.

​This is for a couple of reasons.

One of the reasons is that the skin is generally extremely thin and sensitive around many areas of the rib cage. The thinner the skin, the more sensitive it generally is.

​When the needles puncture the thin areas of skin around the ribs, the pain can feel quite sharp and intense when compared to the regular scratching and burning sensation that comes with being tattooed on many other areas of the body that have 'averagely thick' skin (such as forearms, thighs and chest areas for example).

The second reason is that fact the the needles will be penetrating so close to bone.​

When this happens, the tattooing sensation can feel very intense, and it often feels like your whole body is vibrating and rattling from the needles.

Although it's not always that painful when a tattoo is being placed close to the bone, it is normally quite uncomfortable due to the rattling feeling.

You must remember though, that what getting a new tattoo feels like is totally dependent on how you personally can deal with the pain and discomfort.

How to make a tattoo hurt less:

Rib Tattoo Pain Spots

Side of Rib Tattoo Pain

This is the most popular area for rib tattoos and is unfortunately one of the most painful areas.

The skin is normally quite thin around the area and many nerve endings are situated quite close to the surface. 

There are mixed comments about the pain however. Whilst some people describe the experience as 'agony', others say it's not too bad and easily manageable.​

Side of Rib Tattoo Pain
Front of Rib Tattoo Pain

Although still potentially quite painful, there are a few areas towards the front of the rib cage that harbor a little more fat. This can cushion the needles slightly and damped the pain.

Sternum Tattoo Pain​

Again, the amount of pain experienced in the sternum area appears to be quite mixed amongst people who were previously inked there.

What you must be aware of is that this area contains such ​little fat and such thin skin that it could be one of the more painful areas for you to get tattooed on.

On the other hand though, plenty of people have said that the pain isn't too bad, and there are areas much worse (again, these areas vary from person-to-person).

Therefore, you may just have to get a tattoo there yourself in order to see just how painful (or hopefully painless) it will be for you.​

How to Make Rib Tattoos Hurt Less

Choose a Small Design

The ribs are very popular places to get tattooed on, and many of the tattoos being placed onto the rib area are quite small and delicate, and these still manage to look extremely effective while minimizing the amount of pain you must go through to get them.

Small Rib Tattoo Pain
​Pick a Gentle Artist

When tattooing an area as delicate as your ribs, you'll want an experienced artist who won't be too rough/heavy handed.

No matter which artist you pick, you will of course experience at least some form of pain/discomfort due to the obvious nature of getting tattooed. Some artists though, are generally more gentle than others (and visa-versa).​​

Use a Tattoo Numbing Spray/Cream​

If you're still worried that you might not be able to make it through the pain, then you might want to try applying a numbing product to the area before/at the beginning of your tattoo session.

Although the effectiveness of many numbing products will vary between people, many users are very happy with the numbing effect that their chosen numbing spray/cream achieves.

My Favorite Tattoo Numbing Product

Vasocaine Numbing Spray Painless Anesthetic Numb, 4 Ounce

​One of the most effective tattoo numbing products currently on the market is a spray called Vasocaine. The feedback left by hundreds of customers for this product is nothing short of sensational.

The fact that you can continue to 'top up' the numbing effect throughout your entire tattooing session without any negative effects to the outcome of the tattoo means that this spray is truly one of the most effective numbing products around today.

The 4oz bottle also ensures that you will have more than enough spray for a tattoo no-matter how big.

Give it a try, and I'm extremely confident that you will not be disappointed.​

Read more about Vasocaine Numbing Spray here. Have a quick look at some of the customer reviews and you'll see why it's so popular.​

Here's a selection of my other favorite tattoo numbing products.

How to Care for a Rib Tattoo

In terms of looking after a rib tattoo, the aftercare isn't too difficult, and is much easier than many other areas if the body.

The lack of joints in the area means that you don't have to worry about you tattoo constantly being bent and moved, which can delay healing times.

As the rib area is also covered up most of the time when in the sun (besides at the beach), your healing tattoo shouldn't be too affected by sun damage either.

One of the main problems you might come across when looking after your rib tattoo is that it may sometimes stick to whatever you're wearing during the scabbing process.

You can get around this problem by ensuring that you don't do anything to make your clothing press against the tattooed area for prolonged periods of time.

Finally, you will want to keep the area well moisturized with a good tattoo lotion to ensure that scabs don't become too dry and cracked, which can cause you tattoo to lose small amounts of ink and become patchy.

Thinking Of Getting A New Tattoo?

REMEMBER - Tattoo aftercare is extremely important, and a good quality tattoo lotion is vital to ensure fast and proper healing of your new ink.

Hustle Butter Deluxe – Tattoo Butter for Before, During, and After the Tattoo Process – Lubricates and Moisturizes – 100% Vegan Replacement for Petroleum-Based Products – 5 oz

The best tattoo lotion I've ever personally used is a (vegan) tattoo aftercare product called Hustle Butter. This stuff works amazingly during the healing process - not only to keep your tattoo really well hydrated but it's also very good at soothing that annoying itching.

Many other users of the product also advise that when using it from the very start of the healing process it appears to decrease healing times and seems to reduce heavy scabbing.​

Read more about Hustle Butter here. Have a quick look at some of the customer reviews and you'll see why it's one of the most popular tattoo lotions.​

Here is a selection of my other favorite tattoo lotions and ointments that are currently on the market. Be organised and make sure that you have your lotion before you get your tattoo.


Rib tattoos can definitely be painful, but many people also advise that getting tattooed on the area isn't as bad as many describe. Obviously however, the pain will always be different from person to person.

In terms of rib tattoo pain - when compared to other areas of the body, the pain is definitely higher than average for most people, but not so excruciating that you should stop yourself from getting one. You must always remember that how much rib tattoos hurt is all dependent on the person getting the ink!

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