Knowing When to Cover Your Self-Harm Scars

January 30, 2019 Kayla Chang

Do you cover your self-harm scars or not? Sometimes, who you're with and what you're doing plays into that decision. Get some guidelines on what to do at HealthyPlace.

In an ideal world, no one would feel the need to cover self-harm scars, and no one would be made uncomfortable by their exposure. But as it is now, many people struggle in their daily lives to judge whether, when, and to what extent they should cover self-harm scars.

Some people do not feel pressured to cover their self-harm scars under any circumstances ("Not Hiding Self-Harm Scars Is an Option"). Maybe they believe their exercise in self-acceptance takes precedence over other people’s social comfort — which, of course, it does. And this is certainly a valid way of coming to terms with your scars.

Not everyone, however, is wired in the same way, or may simply be at a different stage in their self-harm recovery. One can arrive at a place of self-acceptance and still want to practice discretion around others, for reasons of privacy or otherwise.

For those of us who want or need a little direction when making these decisions, it can help to have a loose, general set of guidelines to follow.

Self-Harm Scars and School

Know that up to and including high school, the adults around you — including teachers, counselors, and coaches — have a professional obligation to say something if they notice your scars. Keeping you safe is part of their job. They are obligated to not only say something to you but in many cases also to your parent(s) or legal guardian. Often, this will result in you receiving coordinated, professional mental health treatment.

Self-Harm Scars and Work

While workplace environments vary greatly, visible self-harm scars can be a distraction and/or give people the wrong impression of you during job interviews. The same applies to the first few weeks at a new job.

If you have your own business, potential and newer clients may find self-harm scars off-putting. If you work online or from home — any job in which your physical visibility is limited — this may not pose much of an issue.

Self-Harm Scars and Parties/Gatherings/Events

Why would you cover self-harm scars at gatherings? This depends on the nature of the event. A small get-together with your closest friends is not the same as a company holiday party or a distant relative’s funeral. The main factors to consider when making a decision around these events are: 

  • The people -- Who will be there? How comfortable do you feel around them? What is the nature of your relationship with them?
  • The context -- Is this a celebratory occasion? Professional or personal? Big or small? For you, for someone, or for something?
  • The reason for attending -- Obligation or enjoyment? To make a good impression and network, to accomplish a goal, or just to have fun?

This is not a perfect guideline about when to cover your self-harm scars, nor is it an instructive one. But hopefully, it acts as a rubric to help you practice weighing your options in a more manageable way when relying on intuition is not enough.

APA Reference
Chang, K. (2019, January 30). Knowing When to Cover Your Self-Harm Scars, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Kayla Chang

You can find Kayla on Google+.

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