Wrist Tattoo Pain: How Much Do Wrist Tattoos Hurt?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on July 10, 2018
    Last Updated: May 17, 2023

Some tattoos hurt more than others depending on multiple factors. One of these factors happens to be the location of the tattoo. In this part of our tattoo pain series, we will be talking about wrist tattoo pain and how much wrist tattoos hurt for most people.

Do Wrist Tattoos Hurt?

What must be said first before getting into wrist tattoo pain specifically is that all tattoos hurt. It doesn’t matter if you’re an American football pro or an 18-year-old beauty therapist, every tattoo will hurt somewhat.

As already mentioned though, some tattoos do hurt more than others, and the general consensus is that wrist tattoos are pretty high up on the pain scale, although how a tattoo feels generally depends on you and your pain threshold.

The skin around your whole wrist is very thin, meaning that the tattooing needles require little effort in order to reach bone in a lot of areas of the wrist. As the needles hit close to the bone, you may feel quite an uncomfortable vibrating feeling.

Also, when tattooing needles puncture very thin areas of skin, the pain can feel quite sharp and intense when compared to the regular burning/scratching sensation that comes with being tattooed on most areas of ‘averagely thick’ skin (such as forearms, thighs and chest areas for example).

How to make a tattoo hurt less:

Wrist Tattoo Pain Spots

Different areas of the wrist will result in different amounts of pain due to different thicknesses of skin and varying amounts of bony areas. Essentially, the more fat and underlying tissue, the less painful a tattoo will be.

Below are common wrist tattoo areas along with a description of why they might hurt.

Inner Wrist Tattoo Pain

Inner wrist tattoos can be quite painful due to the soft and sensitive nature of the skin around this area.

Not only this, but the insides of your wrists generally have more nerves running through them when compared to the outsides – this can heighten the amount of pain you may feel in this area.

The pain will likely feel quite intense and ‘deep’,  but should be manageable. The overall area of the inner wrist is relatively small, and your artist shouldn’t have too much work to do there, so you should be able to see through the relatively short duration of pain.

Wrist tattoo pain

Outer Wrist Tattoo Pain

The outer/top of wrist tattoo pain is normally not too bad until the bony lumps right next to your wrist joints are hit by the tattooing needles.

All other areas around the top area of the wrist tolerable, but personally, when those bony lumps where being struck by the needles during my tattoo sittings, it was the closest that I have come to asking my artist for a break.

Not nice.

Side of Wrist Tattoo Pain

Like the tops of your wrists, the sides are also quite bony so can therefore be pretty painful places to get tattooed.

How to Make Wrist Tattoos Hurt Less

Choose a Small/Simple Design

The wrists are extremely popular areas to get tattooed, and lots of tattoos placed onto the wrist area are small and relatively basic, but many still manage to look extremely effective.

The smaller and less intricate the design, the less the tattoo will hurt.

Pick a Gentle Artist

When tattooing an area as delicate as the wrist, you will want an experienced artist who isn’t too rough/heavy-handed.

No matter which artist you pick, you will experience some form of pain and discomfort due to the obvious nature of the tattooing process, but some artists are generally more gentle than others.

Use a Tattoo Numbing Spray/Cream

If you’re really worried that you won’t be able to make it through the pain, then you may wish to try applying a numbing product to your wrist area before/at the beginning of the session.

Although the effectiveness of most numbing products will vary from person-to-person, many users are extremely happy with the numbing effect that their chosen cream/spray 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. Click here to buy from Amazon

How to Care for a Wrist Tattoo

You will have to be very careful when looking after your new wrist tattoo as the area is in a very vulnerable location.

Due to the high amount of usage that your hands go through day-to-day, any tattoo on your wrist is likely to be quite susceptible to bumps and scrapes, so you must be careful not to knock your tattoo against any objects or accidentally scrape the area against anything sharp.

Also, due to your wrist being a joint, the tattoo may generally taker a longer amount of time to heal when compared to other areas of the body that aren’t located around a joint.

This is because if the tattoo has been placed over a jointed crease, then it is likely to be moved very often and not get as much of a chance to heal quickly. Should you get a wrist tattoo, try to keep the area as still and rested as possible for the first couple of weeks.

When your tattoo starts to heal and scab over, it may begin to crack if it’s placed over a joint and starts to become too dry.

Therefore, it’s recommended to keep the tattooed area well moisturized to ensure it stays soft and supple and to prevent any scabs from cracking which could potentially cause loss of ink and patchy areas within your tattoo.

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.


Wrist tattoos can definitely be quite painful, but due to the relatively small area of the wrist, the pain should be short-lived, so you should be able to see it through.

In terms of wrist tattoo pain – when compared to other areas of the body, the pain is probably higher than average, but not so excruciating that you should be put off from getting one. You must also remember that how much wrist tattoos hurt is all dependent on the person getting the ink! Everybody’s pain thresholds are different.

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