When dealing with overwhelming, painful emotions and a limited supply of ways to feel better emotionally, people may engage in self-harm behavior. This can take the form of cutting on one’s skin intentionally, punching walls, slapping or punching oneself, scratching or picking at one’s skin until the point of bleeding, or pulling out one’s hair. Typically, self-harming behavior connects to anxiety or depressive symptoms. It is essential to consider meeting with a therapist trained in teaching strategies to replace self-harming acts that are used to manage negative, painful, and overwhelming emotions with activities to distract, tolerate, and get relief from emotional pain.
In the moment, self-harm may make the person feel better. My clients frequently tell me how their scars bring them shame and embarrassment, making them want to hide their bodies out of fear of being stared at, judged, or ridiculed by others. People with scars from self-injury may feel compelled to wear long-sleeves or other clothing that doesn’t reveal the afflicted body part, even in weather that creates discomfort. Sometimes, the person may wear a lot of bracelets to hide their forearm.
But once a person learns how to change their emotional state in skillful ways, tolerate stress and the feeling of overwhelm, once they learn how to feel their emotions adaptively and heal their emotional scars, how do they make the scars go away?
Here are some options that could help hide scars or get rid of them to allow you to feel comfortable wearing tank tops, shorts, or whatever else you’d like to wear:
Flesh-colored waterproof stickers/scar concealing tape/makeup (do pros/cons)
These babies are affordable and seemingly easy to apply. You can purchase them on Amazon or search for the product in your internet search engine. The drawback? Although it is named ‘flesh-colored,’ unfortunately, it does not reflect in the colors available. This product may only help those who are of European descent or with very, very light-colored skin. If you’ve followed my work or other therapists who specialize in providing treatment for those who self-harm, you are aware that this phenomenon crosses color lines. Hopefully, the manufacturers of these products include deeper skin tones at some point.
Scar cover up tattoo
This is a long-lasting approach that could be desirable for those interested in tattooing over their scars or having their scars be the focal point of their body art. This route offers an experience of mastery in their ability to overpower their urges to self-injure. They turn an area of their body that once displayed their pain into a work of art. The possible downside of this idea is the permanency inherent in having a tattoo and the likelihood that the raised portions of the skin will still reflect self-injurious behavior. It can also be a little pricey, depending on what kind of tattoo you want, of course.
Also known as camouflage tattooing, this option is pretty cool. This technique has been proven successful for those with a history of self-harm. It is used for those who’ve experienced burns, those who have lost their breast tissue due to cancer, and for those who want to hide their stretch marks. This technique helps people of all skin tones and does a pretty good job of hiding the scar. The drawback is that it requires more than one trip to have the procedure done. If you are interested, please do your research to find a licensed professional who can help.
This medical intervention helps hide the appearance of scars by coloring the affected areas to match the pigment of your skin and will even out areas where self-harm has elevated the skin or has ‘depressed’ the skin, aiding in smoothing the affected area. The con of the procedure is the requirement to pay for several skin graft treatments to get the desired results.
Thank you for reading this article. I hope it is helpful to those curious about their options for concealing scars that have resulted from self-harm. If you are someone who would like to learn how to take self-injury off the table as a means to manage unpleasant emotions, please give me a call at 702.980.5036 to have a free twenty-minute consultation. Until next time, peace …