Hand tattoos are all the rage these days, from rad finger tattoos to the classic wrist tattoo, to a badass rose or tiger design on the back of the hand or the palm. But how much do hand tattoos hurt, and how can you combat any hand tattoo pain for your next session?
This article will cover how much hand tattoos hurt and why they might hurt more than other places on the body. We will also provide some hand tattoo inspiration and ideas for your next piece of body art, as well as several protective steps to get you through prepping, sitting through your session, and caring for your tattoo after it is complete.
At HUSH, we don’t think pain should stop you from getting the tattoo you want, which is why we offer several different numbing solutions. If you are worried about the pain level you might experience with the hand tattoo, we have several different products to ensure your session is smooth as butta.
Later, we'll cover all our options for topical anesthetics that will make even the most traditionally painful tattoo spots a total breeze.
How Much Do Hand Tattoos Hurt? An Honest Pain Scale
We’re not going to beat around the bush: hand tattoos can hurt. This area of the body has a lot of nerve endings and bones, very thin skin, and next to no fat.
However, we have created a line of topical anesthetics that mean no matter where you decide to get tattooed; you're in for a smooth session.
Why Are Hand Tattoos Painful?
You might wonder why hand tattoos are more painful than other areas of the body, such as the thigh, bicep, or forearm. While tattoo pain can vary from person to person, the areas of our body that have the most nerve endings and the least amount of fat hurt the most.
Some areas of our body have thinner skin than others, which makes for a more painful tattooing experience. However, using HUSH topical anesthetics, you can ensure that no matter where you get your tattoo, you won't feel insane amounts of pain.
Tattoos on the Back of Your Hand
If you run your finger along the back of your hand, you will feel many different bones and tendons along the hand’s surface, extending to the wrist. There is not a lot of fat on the back of the hand, but there are a lot of bones and nerve endings, which means that tattoos in this location can be super painful.
If you are set on getting a tattoo on the back of your hand, it can help to use some sort of topical anesthetic before your session. If you don't use a numbing product, your hand might be extra twitchy because of all the nerve endings in this area. It goes without saying that a twitchy hand during a permanent tattoo session is not dope.
Take it from us: using an anesthetic product will reduce your pain and make it easier for your tattoo artist to complete their work.
Tattoos on the Palm of Your Hand
Some say that the skin on your hand is almost four times more sensitive than other areas of the body, meaning a palm tattoo can border on excruciating pain — not saying it’s not worth it.
Additionally, we use the palm of our hands to hold pens and pencils, swipe on our phones, or eat with utensils. This extended use can mean that tattoos on your palm are more likely to fade quicker than tattoos on other areas.
So, you might need a touch-up a few years after getting your palm tattoo. While sometimes shorter than your original session, these touch-ups can still be painful. Opt for a topical anesthetic like HUSH’s Numbing Cream or Numbing Gel to ensure your initial and touch-up sessions are a breeze.
Tattoos on the Fingers
Finger tattoos have become increasingly popular over the last several years. These tattoos are hiding in plain sight, so you can reveal them whenever you want, but they may not be as obvious as a tattoo on your palm or the back of your hand.
Finger tattoos can still feel gnarly, like other hand areas. Fingers tend to be quite bony and have thin skin with many nerve endings. Additionally, since we use our fingers all the time, these tattoos might fade quickly and require touch-ups every several years. However, since these tattoos tend to be tiny, we say go for it.
Tattoos on the Wrist
Unfortunately, wrist tattoo pain can also suck. Usually, people find that the inside of the wrist is the most painful because of the median nerve that runs through this part of the body. This area is extra sensitive to pain, so make sure you are well numbed up before your session — unless pain is your thing.
Tattoos on the outside of the wrist are also painful because of the bones that lie just under the surface.
Hand Tattoo Ideas and Inspiration
Hand tattoo designs can be super simple or intricate and complex depending on their size and location. While you might need to opt for a simpler design than other body parts with more surface area, even a simple design can be badass. You could even tattoo the entire hand leading up into a full sleeve.
While there are many great tattoo designs, the best tattoo for you is the one that means the most — or the one you think looks the sickest. It doesn’t matter if someone thinks your feather tattoo idea is silly: do you like it? If so, we say go for it.
If it is your first tattoo, a tattoo shop might advise you against a hand tattoo. However, if you already have other arm tattoos or are working on a sleeve, they will probably be more open to your request.
Tattoo shops always want to ensure their customers don't regret the decision to put a permanent piece of art on their bodies, so don’t feel bummed if an artist questions you about wanting a new tattoo on your hand — it’s often because they care.
Hidden Finger Tattoos
Hidden finger tattoos are some of the best hand tattoos for someone who might not always want to show off their fresh ink. You can get one of these small tattoos in black ink, or if you want them to be even more subtle, you can opt for a lighter color or white ink.
Many people choose to make their hidden finger tattoos something like a pen, pencil, feather, tree, or another image that’s a relatively straight line. Other people might make their hidden finger tattoo practical and put a few inch and centimeter marks on it for an easy way to measure things when they’re out and about. Genius.
Ring-shaped tattoos that circle the finger are another great option for a hand tattoo. Often, people can choose designs for tribal tattoos around the finger that might reflect their heritage.
You could also do a flower hand tattoo like a daisy chain, a rose, or simple linework on your ring finger to symbolize your commitment to your lifelong partner.
Geometric Hand Tattoos
Many people are inspired by henna hand tattoos and get mandala tattoos on the palm of their hands. If henna is important to you, this can be a great permanent option.
However, your tattoo artist might advise against anything too detailed on the palm because it can bleed and fade over time, causing it to look muddy and messy if there are too many small details.
Small Hand Tattoos
If you want to dip your toe (or finger!) into the world of hand tattooing, start with a simple hand tattoo — just because a tattoo is small doesn’t mean it has to be boring. You can work with your specific artist on the type of design you want on your hand, from a watercolor piece to minimalist black line work.
Below, we’ve listed a few ideas for small hand tattoos that you can use as inspiration.
- Stars or moon
- Zodiac symbol
How Can I Prepare For a Hand Tattoo?
Using our prep products, you can ensure you’re primed and ready for your hand tattoo session. Let’s get into it.
Hand-ling Tattoo Prep
Before you head to your session, get your hand ready for tattooing. This means clean and shaven. If you experience hair growth on the back of your hand, gently shave it, making sure to avoid razor burn — most artists will also shave in-shop.
After your hand is free of hair, clean it thoroughly with our CBD Foam Soap to get it squeaky clean. Our hands are monsters — always getting into stuff. You don’t want that yuck to get all up in your tattoo.
What Can I Expect During a Hand Tattoo?
Your artist knows that the hand is not an easy place to get a tattoo. They will probably advise you not to move your hand too much, even though nerve twitching is common. Using a numbing agent will make it way easier to keep still so your tattoo artist can complete the piece.
Your artist might also ask you if you need to take a break throughout your session. However, if the artist is in the zone but you really need a break, advocate for yourself! It is perfectly acceptable to take a minute to get some water and take a short break before returning to the table. Just know that the pain will still be there when you come back.
Numb It Up
Using numbing products is a great way to ensure you can get through a hand tattooing session. We offer two forms of topical anesthetics you can use during your hand tattoos: our Numbing Gel and our Numbing Cream.
Both our gel and cream include maximum-strength lidocaine: a type of super-safe local anesthetic that prevents your nerve endings from sending pain signals to the brain. For a thin-skinned, high-nerve ending area like the hand, lidocaine is all but essential.
Both products are non-greasy, with a boost of beneficial botanicals to help you stay cool as a cucumber (and your skin, too). You will love our topical anesthetics so much that you might even tell your fellow tattooed friends, “Hands off” — but we know you’re nice and want to share, right?
Hand Tattoo Aftercare
Every single one of us uses our hands all day, every day. Because our hands go through so much daily, you gotta follow proper tattoo aftercare to keep your hand tattoo safe and protected.
We never want you to end up with something like a tattoo infection or inflammation that can harm your tattoo and the skin underneath it. Following proper aftercare steps using HUSH products can avoid these skin concerns as your fresh tattoo heals up.
It is important to ensure bacteria don’t get into your new hand tattoo. Healing tattoos are open wounds, so while your tattoo is healing, you might want to wear gloves while cooking, cleaning, or doing anything where you might get your hands dirty.
Also, you should wash your hands frequently with our CBD Foam Soap. Since it was developed specifically for tattoos, this gentle soap will clean up your hands while also delivering soothing, skin-supporting agents to your new tattoo.
Don’t Get Handsy
Tattoos can get super itchy during the healing process, especially on our hands. We might even go to scratch at our new tattoos without realizing it — the number one rule is resist the itch.
Scratching at itchy new tattoos can harm the design and the skin around them. If bacteria get into a healing tattoo, which is considered an open wound, this can lead to infection.
To beat the itch, use our Healing Spray. This antiseptic formula uses natural ingredients and lidocaine to soothe discomfort. You don’t have to go through the healing process alone!
Paired with our CBD Healing Balm, you can support your sensitive skin during the tattoo healing process, so your new hand tattoos continue looking just as good as they did the day of your session. You can even slap a little balm on existing tattoos to pump up their vibrancy and moisturize your skin. It’s truly a win-win sitch.
Always Use (Sun) Protection
Our hands are almost constantly in the sun, especially during summer. You will need to keep your fresh hand tattoo out of the sun while it heals using a fingerless glove or mittens.
After your tattoo has fully healed, make sure that you apply sunscreen to your hands every day to keep your tattoo looking vibrant and to prevent fading.
Unlike back tattoos, a tattoo on your hand is something that other people will see all the time. Before jumping into the world of hand tattoos, make sure that you think carefully about what you want to display to the world at all times.
Additionally, you should consider the season you are getting a hand tattoo. You will need to protect it from the sun for at least a little while during healing, and you don't want to walk around wearing gloves when it's a hundred degrees outside in summer.
We are all in favor of getting a tattoo wherever you want, but make sure you go through the proper prep, session, and aftercare steps. Since you use your hands so much, we want your hands to stay protected and heal nicely here at HUSH.