Home Tattoo Behind the Ear Tattoo Pain Level: Tips for a Better Experience

Behind the Ear Tattoo Pain Level: Tips for a Better Experience

pain at the back of the ear
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It's common knowledge that tattoos can be quite painful, especially when inked in the area behind the ear. The degree of pain can vary due to the limited flesh in this area.

Based on anecdotal evidence, experts estimate the pain level of tattoos behind the ear to be around 5+ on a 10-point scale.

To help manage this pain, many people use numbing creams like Dr. Numb, which can significantly reduce the discomfort during the tattooing process.

This article will delve deeper into the pain associated with tattoos behind the ear. We will also explore why some people experience more pain than others and provide tattoo pain tips on making the experience less painful. We will also discuss the proper care for your new tattoo.

Pain Levels Behind the Ear Tattoos: How Painful Are They?

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Pain is subjective and varies from person to person. Most people agree that getting a tattoo behind your ear is more painful than getting one on other body parts.This is because:

  • The skin behind the ear is thin and sensitive: There is little fat or muscle tissue to cushion the needle, so you will feel every poke and prick more intensely.
  • The area behind the ear is close to the bone: The mastoid bone that sits behind your ear will amplify the vibration and noise of the tattoo machine, which can be unpleasant and irritating.
  • The area behind the ear has many nerve endings: The nerves that run through your ears and neck are responsible for transmitting sensations to your brain. When stimulated by the tattoo needle, they can cause sharp pain and stinging behind the ear.

Based on anecdotal evidence from experts, behind-the-ear tattoo pain is usually rated 5 or 6 on a 10-point scale. Some factors that can influence how much pain you feel are:

  • Your personal pain tolerance: Some people have a higher threshold for pain than others, which means they can endure more discomfort behind the ear without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Your pain factor: This is how you perceive and cope with pain, which can be affected by your mood, stress level, expectations, and previous experiences.
  • Your placement: The exact location of your tattoo behind your ear can make a difference in how much pain you feel. Sometimes, you feel an ache behind your ear. For example, if your tattoo is closer to the hairline or the jawline, it might hurt less than if it is closer to the ear canal or the lobe.
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Small and Cute Behind the Ear Tattoo Ideas

Tattoos behind the ear are exciting. Yet the experience might be more intense due to the sensitive skin and nearness to the bone. Pain thresholds differ among individuals. Tattoos placed behind the ear are typically petite and intricate. Here are some trendy ideas to consider:

  • Stars: Simple and elegant, stars are a classic choice.
  • Flowers: Tiny floral designs can be both beautiful and meaningful.
  • Symbols: Hearts, anchors, or initials are great for a personal touch.

Behind the Ear Tattoos for Males

Men often choose strong designs for their behind-the-ear tattoos. Some popular choices include:

  • Geometric Patterns: Sharp lines and shapes that stand out.
  • Tribal Designs: Traditional patterns that carry deep meaning.
  • Animals: Small animal tattoos like lions or eagles can symbolize strength.

Behind the Ear Tattoos for Females

Women often prefer more delicate and intricate designs. Here are some favorites:

  • Butterflies: Symbolizing transformation and freedom.
  • Feathers: Representing lightness and flight.
  • Music Notes: Perfect for those passionate about music.

Additional Tattoo Ideas

tinnitus tattoo pain under ear
  • Music Tattoos: For music lovers, small notes or symbols can show your passion.
  • Question Mark Tattoo: A question mark can symbolize curiosity and a love for learning.
  • Skull Tattoo: Skulls can represent strength and bravery.
  • Lips Tattoo: Lips can be a playful and bold choice.
  • Gemini Tattoos: Gemini symbols can show off your zodiac sign for those who believe in astrology.
  • Kiss Tattoo: A kiss tattoo can symbolize love, romance, friendship, and intimacy. It can also remind you of a significant moment in your life.

Behind the Ear Tattoos: Why Get One?

There are many reasons why people choose to get a tattoo behind their ears. Some of them are:

  • Body modification: Some people enjoy altering their appearance with tattoos, piercings, and other forms of body art. A tattoo behind the ear can be a subtle or bold way to modify your look and show off your personality.
  • Symbolic significance: Behind-the-ear tattoos can have a personal meaning for the wearer, such as representing their zodiac sign, favorite animal, or a loved one’s name. It can also be a reminder of a special memory, a goal, or a mantra.
  • Aesthetic appeal: Behind the ear, tattoos enhance your facial features and complement your hairstyle. It can be easily hidden or revealed depending on your mood and occasion.

Why Is Behind the Ear a Painful Tattoo Area?

As we mentioned, behind the ear is a painful tattoo area because of its thin skin, proximity to bone, and abundance of nerve endings. These factors make it more sensitive to touch and pressure than other body parts.

Despite the pain, getting an ear tattoo has some benefits:

  • It is relatively quick: Because behind-the-ear tattoos are usually small and simple, they don’t take too long to complete. This means you won’t have to endure the pain for hours.
  • It heals fast: Tattoos behind the ear are exposed to less friction and sweat than other tattoos. They tend to heal faster and with fewer complications. The average healing time for behind-the-ear tattoos is about two weeks.
  • It looks cool: Behind-the-ear tattoos are trendy and stylish, and they can add some flair and charm to your appearance.

What’s the Pain Level Like?

ear tattoo pain chart

The Numerical Rating Pain Scale is a simple pain scale that grades pain levels from 0 (No pain), 1,2, and 3 (Mild), 4,5 and 6 (Moderate), 7,8, and 9 (Severe) to 10 (Worst Pain Possible). When it comes to behind-the-ear tattoos, the pain level differs for everyone.

Most people describe it as annoying rather than truly painful. Some common sensations that people report feeling are:

  • Burning: This is caused by the heat generated by the friction of the needle on your skin.
  • Stinging: This is caused by the inflammation of your skin due to the trauma of the needle.
  • Vibrating: The needle movement and the machine on your skull cause this.
  • Throbbing: Throbbing pain behind the ear is caused by the increased blood flow to your skin due to the injury of the needle.

Some people also say they feel more pain after their tattoo session than during it. This is because their skin becomes more swollen and tender as it starts to heal.

Can Behind-the-ear Tattoos Hurt?

The answer to this question is yes, behind-the-ear tattoos do hurt. The pain is not unbearable and worth it for many people who love their tattoos. The pain is also temporary and will fade away as your tattoo heals.

If you are very sensitive to pain or have a medical condition affecting your pain perception, you should consider tattooing behind your ear. You should also consult your doctor before getting tattoos, especially if you have allergies, infections, or blood disorders.

Why Do Some People Find Behind-the-Ear Tattoos Extra Painful?

Some people find behind-the-ear tattoos extremely painful

Due to their skin sensitivity, certain people experience discomfort with behind-the-ear tattoos, fear, anxiety, or other factors. Here are some examples:

  • Skin sensitivity: Some people have more sensitive skin than others, which means they feel more pain when their skin is touched or injured. This can be due to genetics, age, skin type, or environmental factors.
  • Fear and anxiety: Some people have a phobia of needles, blood, or pain, which makes them more nervous and tense when getting a tattoo. This can increase their pain perception and make them more likely to panic or faint.
  • Other factors: Some other factors that can make behind-the-ear tattoos more painful are dehydration, hunger, fatigue, menstruation, alcohol consumption, or medication use. These factors can affect your physical and mental state and make you less able to cope with pain.

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How Much Do Behind-the-Ear Tattoos Hurt?

The level of hurting experienced during an ear tattoo varies based on many factors, such as your personal pain tolerance, pain factor, placement, artist, health, and mood. The pain level is usually moderate to high based on general feedback from people who have gotten behind-the-ear tattoos.

Some ways to reduce the pain and make the experience more comfortable. Here are some tips:

  • Choose an experienced tattoo artist: The more skilled and experienced the artist is, the less time they will take to finish your tattoo and the less damage they will do to your skin. They can also adjust their technique and pressure according to their comfort level.
  • Don’t drink alcohol: Drinking alcohol before getting a tattoo can make you more sensitive to pain, increase your bleeding, and impair your healing process. It can also dehydrate you and make you feel worse overall.
  • Try relaxation techniques: Relaxing your mind and body can help you cope with pain better and distract you from discomfort. You can try deep breathing, meditation, music, or talking to someone.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water before and after getting a tattoo can help you prevent dehydration, which can make you more prone to pain. It can also help you flush out toxins and promote healing.

How Long Does the Pain Last?

Time for behind-the-ear tattoo pain

The pain of a behind-the-ear tattoo will last as long as your tattoo session lasts. This can vary depending on the size and complexity of your design, but it usually takes between 15 minutes to an hour.

After your tattoo session, your skin will still feel soreness and tenderness for the next few days or weeks as it heals. The pain should be mild and manageable with proper aftercare and pain relief methods.

If the pain worsens or persists longer than expected, it could indicate a problem, such as an infection or an allergic reaction. In that case, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Tattoos Behind the Ear: Pros and Cons

Tattoos behind the ear have become increasingly popular due to their discreet yet stylish appeal. However, like all tattoo placements, they come with their own set of advantages and drawbacks. Below, we explore the pros and cons of behind-the-ear tattooing.


Choosing a tattoo behind the ear presents a subtle and chic method of self-expression. This distinctive placement enables effortless concealment while adding a personal touch near the heart. Uncover the reasons behind the growing popularity of this spot among tattoo aficionados.

Discreet Placement

  • Hidden When Needed: It is easily concealed by hair or accessories such as hats or headbands, making it a good choice for those who want a tattoo that’s not always visible.
  • Professional Settings: Less likely to interfere with professional or formal settings where visible tattoos might be frowned upon.

Unique and Stylish

  • Appealing Aesthetic: Offers a unique placement to enhance personal style and stand out subtly.
  • Trend Factor: It is currently on-trend, making it a fashionable choice for those who follow tattoo trends.

Smaller Designs

  • Less Time-Consuming: Typically features smaller designs, which means shorter tattoo sessions.
  • Minimalistic Appeal: ideal for those who prefer minimalistic or delicate tattoos.


ear tattoo pain chart

An ear tattoo can be interesting, but it's crucial to consider downsides like heightened pain levels, aftercare challenges, and infection risks before choosing this unique placement.

Pain Factor

  • High Sensitivity: Behind the ear is a susceptible area, making tattooing more painful than other body parts.
  • Thin Skin: The thin skin in this area can increase discomfort during the tattoo process.

Healing Process

  • Challenging Aftercare: Limited air circulation can complicate healing, potentially leading to longer healing times.
  • Risk of Infection:Cleanliness of the area and free from irritation can be more challenging because of its location.

Visibility and Fading

  • Limited Visibility: While discretion is a pro for some, others might find the tattoo's limited visibility a downside if they wish to showcase their ink more frequently.
  • Faster Fading: Tattoos in this area may fade faster because of exposure to elements, hair products, and friction from clothing or accessories.

Potential Employment Concerns

  • Workplace Restrictions: Some workplaces still have strict policies against visible tattoos, and even a tiny tattoo behind the ear might be problematic in certain professional environments.

Inner Ear Tattoo Pain Level

Another ear tattoo that has gained popularity recently is the inner ear tattoo. This is when the ink is applied inside the ear canal or on the cartilage of the ear. While this might sound cool and edgy, it comes with risks and challenges.

Why Get an Inner Ear Tattoo?

There are some reasons why people opt for an inner ear tattoo. Some of them are:

  • Unique location: An inner ear tattoo is only very common or visible if you show it off intentionally. This makes it a great way to stand out from the crowd and express your individuality.
  • Personal significance: An inner ear tattoo may symbolize the wearer's favorite sound, music, or word. It can also be a way to honor their hearing or overcome hearing loss.

Are Inner Ear Tattoos Painful?

Does having inside-ear tattoos look unprofessional?

Inner ear tattoos are painful, involving tattooing on the cartilage or inside the ear canal. These areas are very tender and have many nerve endings that transmit pain signals to the brain. The pain level of inner ear tattoos is usually rated 8 or 9 on a 10-point scale.

Some of the reasons why inner ear tattoos are so painful are:

  • The skin inside the ear is thin and delicate: There is no fat or muscle to cushion the needle, which means the pokes and pricks are more painful.
  • The cartilage of the ear is hard and dense: Tattooing on the cartilage requires more pressure and depth from the needle, which can cause more trauma and bleeding to the tissue.
  • The area inside the ear is near the eardrum: A tattoo machine's vibrations and noise can be very loud and annoying, potentially damaging your hearing.
  • Ear canals are prone to infection: The ear canal is a warm and moist environment that can harbor bacteria and fungi. Tattooing inside the ear can introduce foreign substances and irritate the skin, increasing the risk of infection.
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Risks of Getting an Inner Ear Tattoo

Getting an inner ear tattoo is not only painful but also risky. Before getting inked in this area, you should know the potential complications and side effects. Some of them are:

  • Hearing damage: Tattooing inside the ear can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, tinnitus, or vertigo. This can happen due to the loud noise of the tattoo machine, the pressure of the needle on the eardrum, or the inflammation of the inner ear.
  • Infection: Tattoos can introduce bacteria or fungi into the ear canal, leading to otitis externa (swimmer's ear) or otitis media (middle ear infection). The pain registers at a level above 6 on a scale of 10. These infections can result in swelling, fever, pain, hearing loss, and spreading to other parts of the head and neck.
  • Allergic reaction: It is possible to have an allergic reaction to the ink or the numbing cream. This can cause itching, rash, swelling, redness, or blisters in or around the ear. In rare cases, it can also cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Are Inner Ear Tattoos Unprofessional?

Does having inside-ear tattoos look unprofessional?

Whether inner ear tattoos are unprofessional or not depends on your personal opinion and your workplace policy. Some people might find inner ear tattoos cool and creative, while others might find them weird and inappropriate.

Some workplaces might have strict rules about tattoos and piercings, especially if they involve customer service or public relations. In that case, you might have to cover up your inner ear tattoo with your hair or a bandage or avoid getting one altogether.

Some workplaces might be more accepting of piercings and tattoos related to your field of work or expression. In that case, you can show off your inner ear tattoo without problems.

Before getting an inner ear tattoo, consider your career goals and your employer’s expectations. You should also be prepared to face judgment or criticism from people who might not appreciate your body art.

Care Tips for Tattoos Behind the Ear

Ear Tattooing is a big decision that requires proper care and attention. You should follow some basic aftercare techniques to ensure your tattoo heals well and looks great for years.

Proper Behind-the-Ear Tattoo Aftercare Techniques

Here are some steps that you should take to care for the tattoo behind your ear:

  • Clean your tattoo: You should gently wash your tattoo with warm water and mild soap at least twice daily for the first week. This will help remove dirt, blood, ink, or plasma from your skin and prevent infection.
  • Moisturize your tattoo: You should apply a thin layer of unscented moisturizer or tattoo aftercare cream to your tattoo after each wash. This will help keep your skin hydrated and prevent scabbing and cracking.
  • Protect your tattoo: You should avoid exposing your tattoo to direct sunlight, heat, water, sweat, dirt, chemicals, or friction for at least two weeks. This will help prevent fading, irritation, infection, or damage to your tattoo.
  • Don’t pick or scratch your tattoo: You should resist the urge to pick or scratch your tattoo, which can cause scarring, infection, or ink loss. If your tattoo feels itchy, add ice or a cold compress.

Tattoo Pain Relief Tips

Tattoo behind the ear pain relief tips

Here are some tips that you can use to relieve the pain of the tattoo behind your ear:

  • Use topical creams: You can use over-the-counter numbing creams or sprays to reduce the pain before or after getting your tattoo. You should always consult your tattoo artist before using them, as some of them might interfere with the quality of your tattoo or cause allergic reactions.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medication: You can take some over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to soothe tattoo pain and reduce inflammation and swelling post-tattoo. You should avoid aspirin or other blood thinners as they can increase your bleeding.
  • Apply cold compresses: You can apply some ice packs or cold compresses to your tattoo to numb the pain and reduce the swelling. you should not apply them directly to your skin but wrap them in a clean cloth or towel.

Signs of a Problem

Here are some signs that you should look out for that might indicate a problem with your tattoo behind your ear:

  • Excessive bleeding: It is normal for your tattoo to bleed a little bit for the first day or two, but if it bleeds excessively or continuously, it might be a sign of a deep wound or a blood disorder.
  • Excessive swelling: Tattoos usually swell a little for the first few days, but an infection or allergy might occur if it swells excessively or persistently.
  • Excessive redness: Your tattoo will likely be red at first, but a skin infection or allergy may occur if it stays red for a week or spreads beyond the tattoo area.
  • Excessive pain: Normally, tattoos are sore and tender initially, but if the pain becomes unbearable or lasts longer than expected, there might be an infection or allergies.
  • Fever: Experiencing a fever along with symptoms such as pain above the ear could signal a severe infection that demands prompt medical intervention.
  • Pus: If you notice any pus, yellowish-green discharge, or foul odor from your tattoo, it might indicate a bacterial infection requiring immediate medical attention.

If you experience any of these signs of a problem, you should contact your tattoo artist and doctor as soon as possible. They can diagnose and treat the issue and prevent any further complications.

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In conclusion, behind-the-ear tattoos can be both beautiful and painful. The pain level can vary depending on factors such as your pain tolerance, the tattoo artist's experience, and the tattoo's size and design.

While it is impossible to eliminate the pain, there are ways to minimize it and ensure that your tattoo heals properly. Always choose an experienced and reputable tattoo artist and follow their aftercare instructions closely.

And most importantly, don't let the fear of pain stop you from getting the tattoo you want. You can enjoy a beautiful, meaningful tattoo behind your ear for years with proper preparation and care.

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Matt Callard
I am a passionate traveler, as if traveling were my full-time job. I like to change my surroundings and environment, like changing desktop wallpaper. Nature increases the concentration in my writing, which helps brainstorming flow in my blood. I have a cat named Kitana. She is the most desperate about traveling, more than any other cat. How do I know? If I miss any tour in any week, she literally destroys my clothing with her wolverine nails.

I and my cat also participate in extreme activities like surfing, biking, hill tracking, paragliding, boating, etc. She was always there in my accidents, injuries, and stitches. She always sits on my lap when it hurts me most. The funniest part is that she has experienced all my tattoos. She sleeps on my blanket when I go through any painful experience.

My hobbies and lifestyle added many pain and injuries to my life. That is why I have a lot of experience in dealing with different levels of pain and burn. It influenced me to become a pain expert and share primary suggestions to handle any unwanted situations that hurt.


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