How Much Do Shoulder Tattoos Hurt? - Pain Guide

Tattoos can be done anywhere on the body. Some places hurt more than others. For example, the feet are considered one of the most painful areas. We will look at one of the most popular areas—the shoulders. Why is this area so popular? Maybe because shoulder tattoo pain isn't too bad? Let’s find out.

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How Much Do Shoulder Tattoos Hurt

How Much Do Shoulder Tattoos Hurt?

The shoulder is a very popular place for a tattoo. Not only does it look good, but it's also very easy to cover up, if you have to. Many workplaces frown upon body modifications, such as tattoos and piercings. However, that shouldn't hold you back, as long as it can be covered.

Let's take a look at some basic anatomy to understand what actually happens under the skin as the tattoo takes place.

There are important nerves and muscles located in the shoulder region. These muscles and nerves are what enable us to move our heads and shrug our shoulders.

To know how much a shoulder tattoo hurts, we need to be more precise. The sensitivity of the shoulder differs from area to area. The rounded part of the shoulder is the least painful place. Many choose this location for their first tattoo for this very reason.

As we move up towards the neck, there will be more pain. The clavicle bone runs along the top of the chest, out to the shoulder—you can feel it if you use your hand to pull your shoulder down. The clavicle is notorious for being a very painful location. The skin is super thin, and there is little fat here to cushion the bone.

The top part, at the back of the shoulder and neck area, is not as painful. The skin is thicker here, and there is more fat.

Shoulder Tattoo Pain

What Does the Pain Compare To?

Everyone will experience the pain differently, but one way some people describe the shoulder pain is that it resembles a sharp pulling motion. Others say it compares to being cut with a dull instrument. Comparing the pain to other things, however, is not really accurate, and differs with each person’s perception.

How to Make Shoulder Tattoos Hurt Less

The pain in the shoulder area is manageable. Do not take aspirin-based painkillers or drink alcohol beforehand. This will not benefit you in any way, it will only make you bleed more. How should you deal with the pain? Let’s find out.

Take Deep Breaths

Knowing how to control your breathing can help you to relax, even if the pain becomes close to unbearable. If you have a low tolerance for pain, I suggest practicing a few breathing and relaxation exercises before the appointment, to help you cope.

The most important thing to remember is to stay still. Twitching and turning will only prolong the pain and the whole process, you may also end up with a distorted tattoo.

Choose Morning Appointments

Scheduling an appointment as early as possible can help you. The morning is when our tolerance for pain is generally the highest, this is due to adrenaline which is at its peak in the early hours of the day. With a later appointment, you are likely to feel increased anxiety as the time draws near.

Stay Hydrated

Increasing your daily water intake beforehand will help the skin to prepare itself. Hydration is key to healthy skin, and if the skin is at its peak, the tattoo will be as well.

Healthy skin will accept the ink much better than dry, tired skin. Being hydrated will also help your mind to focus during the tattooing process.

Shoulder Tattoo

Request a Numbing Spray

Numbing sprays are not so common, but when you plan the appointment, ask your tattooist if a spray can be used. Most times when people choose to use an anesthetic cream or spray, they have to buy it themselves.

The anesthetic will usually be applied 30 minutes before the tattooing starts. It will help to dull the pain, but it won’t fully eliminate it.

Many tattoo parlors avoid using numbing sprays because the spray can slow down the healing process. The local anesthetics make it harder for the larger molecules, such as collagen, to heal.

The FDA does not recommend any anesthetic spray or cream to be used for cosmetic procedures. Overuse of these sprays or creams can cause them to enter the bloodstream, which could lead to seizures.

Anesthetic products should be used only by medical professionals. Some tattoo parlors, as well as laser hair removal clinics, use the creams or sprays, despite this advice. It's not illegal, but I recommend you make sure the artist knows how to use it properly.

Pain is part of getting a tattoo, and some people are even said to be addicted to it. Think twice before choosing to use a numbing product. After all, the shoulder tattoo pain should be bearable, depending on the tattoo location.

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