How to relieve tattoo pain or how to make a tattoo hurt less are questions that bother the majority of people who are planning to get inked. Unfortunately, it is impossible to totally avoid pain during the tattooing process. But you can reduce the sense of discomfort you feel when getting inked by following our tips.
Tattooing is the process of plunging a needle with ink into your skin. The skin, like any other organ, responds to this by making you feel pain (article: Does it hurt to get a tattoo?).
1. Can you take pain pills before getting a tattoo?
2. Tattoo painkillers in pharmacies
3. Things not to do before getting a tattoo
4. Things to do before getting a tattoo
5. How to reduce pain while getting a tattoo
Why it is not advised to relieve tattoo pain with painkillers? Can you take pain pills before getting a tattoo?
“NO! Painkillers influence blood coagulability.“
Painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen increase the blood flow. Blood and lymph nodes expel ink during the tattooing process which complicates a tattoo artist’s work. As a result, they will spend more time on the procedure, the tattooing will be more traumatic and the tattoo healing process will be worse.
“You should have a consultation with your tattoo artist about using an anaesthetic gel beforehand because many artists are against medication usage while tattooing. Any additional substance which interferes with the skin can negatively influence the quality of your tattoo and the tattoo artist’s work.”
Tattoo painkillers in pharmacies
“There is no painkillers for tattoo pain.“
However, there are special gels and creams for tattoo pain relief but usually they ARE NOT widely available and recommended. If you have a low pain threshold or are planning to get a tattoo in a sensitive area, you have to ask your tattoo artist about using a numbing agent.
Things not to do before getting a tattoo:
- Drink alcohol (the day before and on the day of an appointment). Alcohol increases the blood flow during the tattoo process. When the blood discharges, it complicates the tattoo artist’s work.
- Take painkillers. Many painkillers are developed for particular types of pain (for example, to reduce a muscle spasm) and can’t help with tattoo pain. Also, like alcohol, many medicines increase blood flow which can damage your tattoo.
“I read a lot of opinions about tattooing on the internet before my tattoo appointment and decided to take painkillers, but I didn’t tell my tattoo artist about this. Of course, it was impossible to conceal it because blood was flowing intensely and it prevented him from working. I was uncomfortable and felt ashamed. A good tattoo artist will see the truth. Pain while tattooing isn’t as intolerable as many people write in their posts on the internet.”
- Drink a lot of coffee, strong tea or energy drinks. These can lead to feeling sick during the tattooing process, and they can even cause fainting.
- Sunbathe or go to a tanning salon. You could get sunburnt, and even the smallest flush or skin irritation can impact the tattooing process.
Important: Women shouldn’t get inked during their period because blood coagulability is reduced.
Things to do before getting a tattoo:
- Have a good rest and sleep. The fresher you feel, the easier your tattoo experience will be.
- Have a meal several hours before your appointment. Avoid spicy or salty food so that you don’t have to drink much water. You should try to create comfortable conditions for both you and your tattoo artist, and try to avoid too many distractions like having to use the bathroom.
- Speak with your friends who have already got a tattoo. People who have the experience of getting a tattoo can support you and give you confidence.
“When you ask people who have a tattoo, they tell you that it isn’t as painful as they expected. Nobody says that it is the last tattoo they’ll ever get. Of course, there can be some unpleasant sensations, but they aren’t so terrible that they’d make you give up on the idea of getting a new tattoo.”
- Ask your tattoo artist all questions you are interested in, specify the time and place for the procedure, and discuss all the edits made to your sketch. Make sure that everything is 100% ready before you get your tattoo.
- Create comfortable conditions for your tattooing procedure. Put on clothes that you aren’t afraid to mess up. It is better to be dressed in something dark. Take a bath or shower beforehand because it is not advised to shower directly after getting a tattoo. The more thorough preparation you do, the fewer worries you will have during your tattoo appointment day.
What helps with tattoo pain? How to reduce pain while getting a tattoo?
There is a very important factor that you should understand about getting a tattoo: your body can cope a certain amount of pain.
When you start to feel pain or discomfort, your brain receives signals, and analgesic mechanisms start working. While getting your tattoo, you will feel comfortable within several minutes, and you won’t feel the same level of discomfort as at the beginning of the procedure. That is thanks to the pain defense mechanisms in our body.
- There are special analgesics (for example, TKTX, Dr. Numb, Painless Tattoos Cream). These are usually applied to big tattoos. It is necessary to have a consultation with your tattoo artist to find out more about analgesics because many artists think that these medications prevent ink deposition. It is possible that you won’t need analgesics during the tattooing process, but it is good to be ready for any circumstances that might arise.
- Take a friend with you. Ask your tattoo artist whether he or she minds if you bring a friend with you. A person you are close to can help to take the heat out of the situation and help you relax.
“My best friend is also friends with a tattoo artist. She recommended him to me and also offered to come to my appointment with me. I didn’t have time to think about pain as we were speaking and laughing all the time. I have only only pleasant memories of the tattoo process”
- Keep calm, relax and breathe deeply. If you find strolling helps you relax, why not walk part of the way to your tattoo artist’s salon?
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a break. Speak with the tattoo artist and tell him/her about how you are feeling during the procedure. Don’t worry about the process taking too long – knowing you can take a break will help you manage the pain as well.
- Hold something in your hand. Fidgeting with something in your hand helps to relax you on a psychological level and can also distract you from the pain.
- Listen to your favorite music. Listening to your favourite playlist can also be an effective way to relax.
- Choose one of the least painful areas for your tattoo. Read about this in more detail in our article.
“If you worry a lot about tattooing, don’t get inked on any of the most painful places the first time. Once you have one tattoo, you will soon start planning to get another one. That is why it is better to choose a small picture for the first tattoo and get it on a less painful area like your shoulder or thigh.”