Living with your self harm scars
Although you may not love your scars, accepting and even embracing them is possible
Written by spunout
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
If you have self harmed in the past, or are currently self harming, you may have scars or marks on your body. Over time scars can fade, or even disappear, but you may find some stay with you, and that’s okay. Feeling more comfortable with these scars or marks can be an important part of healing and accepting your body as it is. Although you may not love your scars, accepting and even embracing them is possible.
Caring for yourself and your self harm scars
People can feel many different ways about self harm scars on their body. It’s important to remember that self harm scars are nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. They can be a physical reminder of having survived a difficult period in your life.
You never need to hide or keep your scars a secret, unless you want to. Although a scar may seem noticeable to you, they are often a lot less obvious to other people. Remember, explaining to others how or why you have scars is completely up to you.
Accepting your scars
How a person feels about their scars will be completely personal to them. If you are feeling under pressure to hide your scars or ashamed of your scars this can take a toll on your mental health and opening up to someone about this can help. Your mental health and recovery are the most important thing, and you should always try to focus on that over the scars themselves.
It’s important to choose whatever approach to your scars feels best for you at the time. This may mean covering them up, or embracing and showing them. Learning to accept your scars can help you to feel better about your body and appreciate it more. Speaking to a counsellor about how you feel about your scars can help you to work through any negativity you might feel about them. Your scars may be a reminder of a difficult time in your life, but they are also a sign of strength and resilience.
Practising self-love is one of the best ways you can help care for your scars. Take some time to focus on yourself and the positive things that you like about yourself. Remember that regardless of the appearance of your scars they do not reflect or define you as a person.
Ways to reduce the appearance of self-harm scars
If you chose to reduce the appearance of your scars, there are several ways you can try to do so.
Using oils and creams
If you would like to reduce the appearance of your scars, speak to a pharmacist about the best creams and oils that you can use. They will be able to guide you on what is available and what type would work best for the scarring that you have. For some rubbing cream on the scars can also be a way to help feel more connected to the body, helping you to accept it the way it is.
Speak to your GP
There are some treatments available for scars through prescription from your local doctor (GP). If you feel comfortable doing so, talk to your GP about treatments that may be available to you to help reduce the appearance of scars.
There are concealers made specially to cover serious scars, marks or burns. These concealers are much heavier than regular makeup and are normally waterproof so you can swim with the makeup on without it washing off. If you would be interested in using makeup to cover your scars, you should speak to a dermatologist and see if they have advice on the type that would be best for you. There is information online on the different types of makeup available. You can also find online accounts of people covering up their scars with makeup and their experience of what type of makeup has worked best for them.
Some people who want a more permanent way to cover their scars choose to get tattoos. Not all scars can be tattooed over, but there are tattoo artists who work specifically on scarred skin. Getting a tattoo is permanent so you should be certain it is the right choice for you before getting one. Search for a tattoo artist you would like online and contact them letting them know you have scars you would like covered and if they would be suitable for the job.
Supports for self harm
Learn more about
There are several different ways to reduce harm and find support for self harming. You may need to try a few different methods and supports until you find the one that works best for you. For information on self harm reduction and finding supports visit our Mental Health section.
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