9 most important hand tattoo question – a must read before getting one!


I am sometimes approached by clients interested in getting a tattoo on the hand. I advise against this place as a choice for your first tattoo, in this article I will try to answer the most common questions about hand tattoos.

What answers you will find in this article about a hand tattoo?

  • What is the meaning of the tattoo on the hand?
  • Does the tattoo on the hand hurt a lot?
  • Tattoo on the hand and the gym
  • Does a hand tattoo swell?
  • Does a hand tattoo fade?
  • Do hand tattoos affect jobs?
  • How much a tattoo on a hand cost?
  • How long does a tattoo on a hand heal?
  • How to care properly for a tattoo on your hand?
tattoo on hand for woman small
Small tattoo on hand made by me

If you are looking for inspiration before your hand tattoo, check out my portfolio – you can find my works and projects here – on Instagram.

What is the meaning of the tattoo on the hand?

As with most places on your body, the design, not the location, will be important for a hand tattoo. When deciding on a specific design, think carefully as it will be a lifetime choice, and hand tattoos are very visible and virtually impossible to hide (except wearing gloves).

For example, a swallow hand tattoo was a symbol used historically by sailors to show off their sailing experience. It is also said that if the sailor drowns, the swallows will carry his soul to heaven.

The design does not always have to matter, I often make tattoos that customers like – flower patterns, animals, etc., but there are also people for whom symbolism matters. It can be the name of a loved one, an inscription that means something to you or, for example, your zodiac sign.

tattoo on hand for woman rose
Rose tattoo on the hand made by me

Does the tattoo on the hand hurt a lot?

Does a hand tattoo hurt? Often, before the final decision is made, the question is asked about the pain of having a tattoo on the hand. As always, pain is a very individual matter, but most of my clients agree that the tattoo on the hand hurts much more than on other parts of the body.

Remember, however, that tattoo pain is a very individual matter – you know your pain threshold best, so think about whether such a place will suit you. There is very little muscle and fat on the hand, the skin is close to the bones, and the pain will always be greater than on the forearm, for example.

Below you can find a body map with a pain scale for different locations if you would like to know where it would hurt less:

pain chart for woman tattoo on hand
Pain scale for women for tattooing from healthline.com
pain chart for man tattoo on hand
Pain scale for men for tattooing from healthline.com

Tattoo on the hand and the gym

With a freshly made hand tattoo, we should limit the intensity of training in the gym. The tattoo on the hand should not be exposed to irritation, we can limit ourselves to, for example, jogging.

Does a hand tattoo swell?

You can be surprised how a healing tattoo can swell, especially in an area like a hand. Hand tattoos tend to be more sensitive, more likely to lose ink during healing, and more prone to infection.

To make sure that your tattoo will be healing properly follow aftercare instructions given to you by your tattoo artist.

Does a hand tattoo fade?

The best location for hand tattoos is the top of the fingers and the top of the hands. Tattoos on those two locations will heal well and will not fade quickly.

A small tattoo on your palm could very easily fade within a few weeks just from daily “tear and wear”. The top of the hand and knuckles are much better sites to consider if you’re have decided on a hand tattoo.

Do hand tattoos affect jobs?

Sometimes, before having a tattoo on your hand, the question is whether it is really hard to find a serious job with a tattoo? In the case of hands, there are professions in which finding a job may be difficult or impossible due to the visible tattoo.

In my opinion for sure, some hand tattoos affect employment. Perhaps a lot has changed now and maybe no one officially will tell you that with a visible tattoo you will be limited to find a job, but there are some professions and more conservative professions where they might take a visible tattoo under consideration when you will be applying.

In some countries, a visible hand tattoo is a limitation for example when you want to work in the Police force or military.

How much a tattoo on a hand cost?

The cost of a hand tattoo may vary, so when asked about the price, each tattoo artist will answer you – it depends. Most often on the size, and thus the time needed to complete it. The average price of a hand tattoo will vary between $100 and $200.

When calculating the price of making a hand tattoo, the tattooer must take into account that even with a small design, certain activities during the preparation of the body and the design itself are independent of its size, it is always important when checking the price of a tattoo on a hand.

How long does a tattoo on a hand heal?

Usually, hand tattoos take about 3-4 weeks to heal, but it takes up to three months for full healing below the skin’s surface. If you’re planning on getting both hands tattooed, consider making only one hand at a time.

How to care properly for a tattoo on your hand?

First of all, follow the instructions for caring for the tattoo on your hand received from the tattoo artist.

Avoid water and sun, and keep your new tattoo clean and give it fresh air frequently. Hear when the tattoo artist gives care tips, they are really important and help reduce pain after getting a tattoo.

Here are some ideas I have tested for taking care of your hand tattoo:

  • Fresh tattoos on the hand are covered with a thin foil for the first 3-4 days, then it is good for them to have air access, which speeds up healing.
  • A new tattoo on your hand should be washed every day – but gently, do not scrub, just spray it lightly with water, preferably dry with a cotton pad.
  • During healing, which usually takes 3 to 4 weeks, you should avoid swimming, visiting a sauna, or bathing where the tattoo on your hand would be completely submerged in water.
  • Be careful not to scratch it as you may accidentally remove some ink by scraping off the scabs.
  • The skin at the site of a hand tattoo often dries out more, so ointments such as Bepanthen or Alantan can be used on it.
  • The new tattoo on your hand should not be exposed to the sun. Even after it heals, make sure you protect it with adequate sunscreen at all times.

Some of my favourite designs, tattoo books and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Deasign and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my Clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my Clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):

Looking for more info about tattoos? I might have them covered!

I have written almost 100 articles about tattooing – with details about each body part, problems that you might have with your tattoo, designs, styles, aftercare, and much more.

Have a look at the search option and see if you can find what you need here.

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Some of my other articles, check them and see if you could find what you are looking for!

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