Self Harm Healing: Reducing the Appearance of Scars

By: Danni Peck

Updated February 10, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Sonya Bruner


It is difficult to learn coping skills that will allow you to stop engaging in self-harm. However, it is possible with hard work, dedication, and practice. And once you have learned these coping skills, you are on the road to mental and emotional healing. But you may also need to have some physical healing from self-inflicted injuries. Having scars from past injuries appear less visible can be an important part of the healing process. For some, constantly seeing the scars or knowing that others see them makes it hard to move on emotionally. Please know that this is a normal feeling and there is nothing to be ashamed about. If that's the case for you, you may benefit from this advice for how to reduce or eliminate the appearance of any self-harm

How to quickly minimize the appearance of scars

It may be hard to hear, but the truth is scars of any kind are difficult to get rid of entirely. And most scar treatments take a lot of time and consistent usage to be effective. You'll find many over-the-counter and prescription scar gels that will help newer scars to heal and fade. Some treatments may even make older scars fade, but the older a scar is, the less effective scar treatment with topical gels will be. You can also use natural scar treatments, like coconut oil or olive oil for healing new scars to make them less noticeable. For scars that are red or brown, lemon juice may also help them to fade, even if they are older. Cocoa butter is another natural option that many have chosen to use in their beauty regimen that has some success. Additionally, you may want to look into utilizing essential oils to reduce the appearance of scars. Oils such as rosehip seed oil, Vitamin E oil, and almond oil may be beneficial. Be sure to consult your physician or dermatologist prior to beginning any new skin care regimen, particularly when it comes to scars, as there is always the potential for an allergic reaction.


That being said, none of those solutions will get rid of your scars sooner than a few months. That leaves you with only two options for quickly getting rid of your scars. The first option is surgery. Multiple surgeries are used to reduce the appearance of scars. Skin grafts and scar revision surgery are options, but you will be left with different scars, not no scars at all. And you may have to wait several weeks to get scheduled for surgery. Surgery may also be expensive, and some insurance company consider surgeries to reduce the appearance of scars as "cosmetic surgery" and may exclude this option from coverage. Be sure to do thorough research into the details of your insurance plan.

That leaves the final option for getting rid of self-harm scars fast. And that is to cover up your scars.

How to cover up self-harm scars

Ways to cover up self-harm scars range from inexpensive and temporary to pricier and more permanent options. However, any of these options are less expensive and faster than surgery.

Wear clothes or accessories that cover scars

Not wanting others to see your scars doesn't mean missing out. Choose clothes that cover the scarred area. Or if that's difficult, you can find watches, scarves, bracelets, or other accessories that cover the area. For instance, if you have scars on your wrist and don't want to wear long sleeves, a wide wrist cuff or wrap bracelet may conceal the scars. If you're going swimming, a surf shirt or board shorts cover more skin than other swimsuit options. For ladies, a stylish bathing-suit cover-up is also an option. There is a large range of prices for these types of clothes and accessories, so finding something to fit your budget should be relatively easy.


Use makeup over the scars

You can cover up scars on any part of your body with concealer, foundation, or concealing powder made for your face. This can reduce the appearance of your scars when clothing doesn't cover them. But the makeup may fade throughout the day if it gets wet or you sweat. Using a makeup primer can help keep it from smudging or running off. For a waterproof option, you can purchase tattoo concealer, which is made to fully cover tattoos and is less likely to rub off. For a longer-lasting option, consider using makeup that is specifically made for theater actors. This makeup is created to withstand the heat from spotlights on the stage and the heat and sweat from the actors with minimal rubbing off/disappearance. There are several specialty cosmetic stores that are usually found in malls and shopping centers that carry a variety of brands and shades of cosmetics, and most employees would be happy to assist you in finding the correct shade for your skin tone. If you do not have access to these stores, there are several stores online that sell this type of makeup as well.


Get a tattoo over the scar

Covering scars with a tattoo is probably the most permanent and cost-effective option over time. It costs more upfront than makeup or tattoo concealer, but you don't have to keep rebuying it like you would with those options. You can expect a tattoo to cost as little as $50 for a small tattoo to well over thousands of dollars for a large, intricate area. Of course, pricing also depends on geographical location, design, tattoo placement, etc. You can make a plan with the tattoo artist to get a design you like that will also function to conceal your scars.


You can make a plan with the tattoo artist to get a design you like that will also function to conceal your scars. Be sure to take the time to find an artist whose style and work that you admire. In terms of a design, remember that it will likely be on your body forever - while tattoos can also be removed, the process is expensive and painful. Take the time to research different designs, color palettes, fonts, etc. Most tattoo artists are more than willing to work with you to come up with a design that you love, even if it takes a few revisions. Remember that while friends and family may offer their input, the final design decision is ultimately yours and should be chosen carefully. Additionally, ensure that you are choosing a highly qualified artist who has been through infectious disease control training, works from a clean shop, and can tell you the process that he or she uses to sanitize the tools used. All replaceable instruments (such as tattoo needles) should be opened in front of you. Bottom line - if you do not feel comfortable in the shop, leave! Your tattoo artist should also thoroughly explain tattoo aftercare to you to help prevent infection and damage to your skin.

Taking away the physical reminders is only one step in the process of healing from self-harm. Consider reaching out to a professional therapist for guidance throughout the healing process.

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