Behind The Ear Tattoos: How Much Do They Really Hurt?

One of the main reasons the majority of people stay away from tattoos is the pain issue; every tattoo, regardless of where it is placed or how talented and careful the tattoo artist is, will cause a certain amount of pain, or at least discomfort. Sure, the pain levels are an individual thing; not everybody experiences pain in the same way, and not everybody manages or reacts to pain in the same way either. What is painful to one person is considered a mere discomfort to the other.

Of course, some tattoos and notoriously more painful than the others, which is why people fear them in the first place. And one of such painful tattoos is considered to be the one you can get behind the ear. If you’re considering getting a behind-the-ear tattoo, but you’re unsure about it because of the pain rumors, make sure to keep scrolling. In the following paragraphs, we’ll talk about how painfully behind-the-ear tattoos really are and whether you should get one. So, let’s jump right in!

Do Behind The Ear Tattoo Hurt: Everything You Need to Know

behind the ear tattoo hurt
Saved Tattoo @victoria.tattoos

Why Is Behind The Ear a Painful Tattoo Area?

One of the main reasons people use the word ‘painful’ when describing their behind-the-ear tattoo experience is because of the location, of course. The skin behind the ear is super thin, and if you know anything about tattoos, that usually means bad news.

The thinner the skin, the more accessible the nerves underneath the skin are, which means the tattoo will surely be more painful. When the skin is super thin, the needle can easily hit the nerve endings in the skin, which is surely going to hurt.

Furthermore, because of the thin skin, as well as being located on one’s head, the needle working and buzzing can create a pretty uncomfortable effect, causing people to either develop a headache or to even become super sleepy. The fact that the buzzing of the tattoo machine is right next to your ear can cause those sensitive to noise to lower their pain threshold and experience the tattoo as more painful than it would have been anywhere else.

And there is also the notion of the tattoo being placed so close to the skull bone. Tattoos done around bones hurt significantly more than those done on more tender areas. Generally speaking, areas around bones are filled with nerve endings, and the vibration of the tattoo machine hits the bones as well, not just the nerve endings. Therefore, the pain immediately elevates and causes significant discomfort throughout the tattooing process.

Read More: Tattoo Pain Chart: What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (A Comprehensive Guide)

So, Are Behind The Ear Tattoos Painful?

Generally speaking, yes; behind-the-ear tattoos are considered to be one of the most painful tattoos you can get. However, you have to keep in mind that some people have a greater pain tolerance than others, and therefore experience pain differently. As we previously mentioned, what is painful to one person doesn’t have to be as painful to the other.

Sure enough, the painfulness of a tattoo can be determined by a few factors;

  • Individual pain tolerance
  • Individual health and mental well-being
  • Tattoo artist’s technique
  • Whether you’ve been drinking or taking drugs days prior to getting tattooed, etc.

To elaborate; people who are experiencing some kind of illness (let’s say you just had a terrible cold), as well as people who are going through some emotionally stressful times, are more likely to describe their tattoo experiences as super painful and uncomfortable. That is because the body isn’t ready to deal with pain, and tattooing is known to cause your body to go into injury mode.

That causes the body to exhaust all of its energy to heal the ‘wound’ or the tattoo. Therefore, if your immune system is low due to illness or stress, getting any kind of tattoo will definitely be a more painful experience than it would have been otherwise.

Moreover, drinking and taking drugs several days prior to your tattoo appointment is definitely a bad idea. Both will lower your immune system and make you more reactive to even the slightest pain experience. It is highly recommended to refrain from drinking and taking drugs at least two weeks to a month before one’s tattoo appointment (especially if you’re planning on getting tattooed on some of the most painful body areas).

And finally, the way your tattoo artist is handling the tattooing can make your behind-the-ear tattoo super painful or super pleasant. Sure, even with the most talented and experienced tattoo artist you will experience some levels of pain, but generally, it would be a more pleasant experience compared to a heavy-handed, inexperienced tattoo artist. Therefore, always make sure to book an appointment at a good tattoo parlor where the artists are highly skilled and experienced.

behind the ear small tattoo
Credit: @mountainlaurelfiberco

How Long Does The Pain Last?

Depending on the size and type of the tattoo, behind-the-ear tattoos can be done in one session, ad they generally are so. As soon as the tattoo artist is done with the needle, you should stop experiencing pain. However, the consequences of the tattooing can be felt several days after the tattoo is done. Generally, you might experience soreness in the area, as well as swelling, discomfort, and other symptoms indicating the tattoo has started healing.

After the first few days, your tattoo should be in full healing mode, so the pain should gradually go away. At this point, you may go through some itching sensations, but if you’re following the aftercare instructions properly, this too should go away soon.

If your tattoo continues to hurt even after a few days from the appointment, or if it’s still red and swollen, you may be experiencing some complications like an allergic reaction or tattoo infection. In this case, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Make sure to also contact your tattoo artist to seek further information on what to do next.

Can I Make Behind The Ear Tattoo Less Painful?

Yes, there are some tips and tricks people utilize to make their tattoo experience as painless as possible. But, before we get into those we need to talk about the following thing; your mental state during the tattooing process can make it or break it for you. You need to be prepared to go through the tattoo machine buzzing and potentially throbbing, as well as stinging and potentially burning sensations.

These are all the things every person experiences during the tattoo process. So, try to disregard it completely; focus on something else, and try to distract yourself from the noise. If allowed, we recommend you listen to some music, or simply talk to your tattoo artist or your friend; anything that will keep your thoughts away from the tattoo work going on behind your ear.

Here are some of the other tips and tricks people utilize to go through a behind-the-ear tattoo as comfortably as possible;

  • Taking plenty of rest prior to one’s tattoo appointment is a must! Get enough sleep and avoid partying before getting tattooed. If you’re tired or restless, your tattoo will hurt more, 100% guarantee.
  • Staying away from booze and drugs is highly recommended, for multiple reasons; both lower the immune system, make you more sensitive to pain, cause blood thinning which could make tattooing a living hell for both you and your tattoo artists, make you jittery and restless during the process, etc.
  • Staying hydrated and consuming a healthy diet is essential; prior to your tattoo appointment try to drink plenty of water and eat energy-boosting food filled with protein, vitamins, minerals, and all the things your body will need to handle the tattoo.
  • Choosing an expert tattoo artist can make your overall tattoo experience so much better and more pleasant, even if you’re getting one of the most painful tattoos possible. The more skilled and experienced a tattoo artist is, the better your experience will be. Also, expert tattoo artists move quickly, so you will also spend significantly less time in the chair, which means, less pain overall.
  • And finally, following the aftercare instructions is essential for proper tattoo healing. This lowers the risk of complications, like tattoo infection, and ensures the tattoo is healing properly and timely.

Final Thoughts

Now, we are well aware that behind-the-ear tattoos are considered to be rather painful. However, they usually aren’t as bad as people tend to describe them. Sure, you will feel a certain level of pain, but by taking care of your body, and your mental health, and by going to an expert tattooist, you will minimize the pain levels and ensure your tattoo experience is pleasant. We wish you good luck and happy tattooing! Don’t let a bit of pain discourage you from getting an awesome tattoo!

Also Read: 24 Amazing Behind The Ear Tattoo Design Ideas (and What They Mean)

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