Is it worth using painkillers during tattooing?

Is it worth using painkillers during tattooing?

A tattoo hurts. Although the level of discomfort experienced always depends on the location, session length, tattooing technique, our mood and overall pain tolerance. Is the use of ointments or other painkillers advisable? What are their risks?

In this article you will find out:

  • Whether it is advisable to use analgesics
  • How analgesics affect the tattooing process
  • What are the risks of inadequate skin anaesthesia

Tough as a stone

There are hundreds of analgesics. We always have at least two to three types in our medicine cabinet. Most often for a headache or a cold. So will they work well during a tattooing session?

To reduce the pain, we can swallow one or more tablets and we've got it... off our chest. But it is better to avoid them during the session. This is especially important for the first tattoo. As it may turn out that thanks to too large dose of painkillers we won't be able to judge whether the session should end already. This is important when tattooing sensitive areas such as the sternum and ribs, sides or back. In these parts, the prolonged vibrations caused by the vibration of the razor and the tension of the muscles can take their toll on our internal organs. The result? Weakness, fainting, spasms of the intestines, stomach or kidneys. For those who know what intestinal or renal colic is, the sensation is at least cruelly painful.


Ink after cream

Another way is analgesic creams. Useful and extremely effective pain killers. With them, the effect is similar - they can make our skin absolutely immune, so that we serve ourselves an overly long session, the effects of which will be felt in the evening and at night. Their advantages include full anaesthesia. Which is important for those who have already exceeded their pain tolerance threshold. Because let's remember - the more sessions the harder it is to endure them. And tattooing is not about making us suffer, but about being done correctly and not in a hurry.

There are two types of painkilling creams and sprays - used before the tattoo and during. The first one needs only to be kept under wraps for an hour, so that their effect lasts for another half a day, which is practically an all-day session. The second type of them have a more localised effect and are applied to the damaged skin, i.e. the first layer of the tattoo - usually an outline - must be applied first, so that once they have penetrated the skin, they begin to take effect. Their effect lasts for a shorter time, is more localised and does not give a feeling of full anaesthesia, which can be shocking when the needle invades the skin without anaesthesia, intensifying the sensation of pain.

Most importantly - nothing lasts forever, so it is important to remember that even the best analgesic may stop working in the middle of a session. And reapplying it will not be possible on damaged skin. On the other hand, adding another specific can cause interference and an allergic reaction from the body. Here the rule is simple - the more ruptured the skin, the worse the anaesthetic.

The first session is a test of strength

During it both we and the tattoo artist assess the strength of our organism. Small tattoos are usually done in one session - outline, black, colours, white. Larger compositions may have additional stages - the first contour, the so-called water mark, then the contour proper and its possible additional thickening, black, colours and finally white underdrawing. Then the layers are created in successive sessions. The exception is the realistic tattoo, which is created not in layers but gradually. That is why you can sometimes see someone with a finished part of the design when the skin next to it is still clear.

However, the technique of tattooing has little effect on the use of analgesics. Here the rule is simple - the later we use them, the better. Because no one should tell us that even the first tattoo has to be done in one session. Succumbing to stereotypes that a tattoo must hurt, three sessions are enough for the whole sleeve, etc. are most often uttered by people who want to boast about their endurance or are simply lying. Because they too will reach the point where the session is ghastly painful after just the fifth minute. It happens to everyone. If anyone says it doesn't... they are either telling the truth or suffering from a disease associated with nerve endings damage.

What are the risks of anaesthesia?

If we lie for the fifth hour under the needle tattooing our stomach or kidney area without feeling absolutely no discomfort, because our skin is covered with pain cream, we can be sure - the pain will come when the agent stops working. And it will be several times worse. Why? Because we are serving ourselves hours of vibrations that take their toll on our internal organs. It's a bit like motion sickness with delayed onset. The sensations - similarly - are dubious in their pleasure.

We do not advise against the use of painkillers. On the contrary. They allow a much higher level of comfort for both tattooer and tattooed person. Why? Because the body does not tremble and shrink in a natural spasm of desire to move away from the instrument of pain. It is important that anaesthesia is used judiciously. Preferably when we are already experienced and know our body enough not to overstep its limits.

Let us also remember that we are not always able to assess and predict our body's reaction to the composition of a particular drug. And the last thing we need is to be under the influence, with severe skin damage and in anaphylactic shock. Therefore, let's be careful with the use of painkillers. Because we can always make an appointment for another session.


Tattoos hurt, but they don't have to. Purists claim that this barrier separates the rookies from those who deserve a tattoo. But who is to judge who wants to adorn their body and in what way? This opinion is typical of newcomers to the subject. Who have not yet felt on their own skin the piercing pain that occurs after a few minutes of the thirtieth or subsequent session. Those who have covered the vast majority or all of their body with patterns in a short space of time know perfectly well that there is nothing wrong with painkillers. Because they allow you to enjoy your next session minus the huge sense of discomfort. However, we advise against using painkillers at the beginning of tattooing. You should feel at least once what it is like to get a tattoo.

Back to blog