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Do Self-Harm Scars Ever Go Away?

March 19, 2020 Kim Berkley

Do self-harm scars ever go away? Let's discuss the answers to that question.

Some scars are a source of pride. We show them off; we point to them and say, "Look at what I survived." Some of us remember that iconic scene in Jaws when the boys sing old sea shanties and cheerfully compare their battle scars. But self-inflicted wounds aren't always so easy to share, and there are some scars we would rather not bear. Do these self-harm scars ever truly go away?

How Long Do Self-Harm Scars Take to Go Away?

How long it will take for self-harm scars to go away is different for everyone. Every body heals differently. Whether self-injury will result in scarring depends on the type and severity of the injury. Minor injuries often fade entirely after a handful of days; major ones are more likely to leave a lasting mark. Other factors—such as medical conditions or medications—may also impact the healing process. Some scars can take up to two years to fade completely.

Applying first aid to a fresh wound can promote healing and minimize scarring. But let's say it's been two years, four, perhaps even a decade or more—and the scars are still there. Will those self-harm scars ever go away?

The answer, unfortunately, is "probably not." Scars that don't fade within two years tend to be permanent.1 However, it's important to remember that:

  • You are not your scars. They are part of you, but they do not define you.
  • Scars are a sign of healing; they are your body's way of keeping old wounds closed.
  • You can cover your scars in a safe and healthy way, should you need to. 
  • However, you have nothing to be ashamed of.

It's up to you to decide who gets to see your scars. It's also up to you to decide how you see your own scars—and to do the hard work of healing the invisible ones that lie beneath them.

Living with Self-Harm Scars That Don't Go Away

The scars on my arm are hairline-thin, white and almost invisible against my pale skin—completely unnoticeable to the casual observer. But I see them every time I reach out to turn off my bedside lamp, and they still itch sometimes when life starts to feel overwhelming.

You don't have to love your scars—I certainly don't love mine—but you can learn to live with them, and to cope with the triggers and the urges you associate with them. It isn't easy, though; it takes constant practice and a lot of patience.

I don't wake up every day admiring the body I see in the mirror. But I don't fixate on my scars anymore, either. I see them, but they no longer blind me to the rest of who I am as a person, or who I might yet become.

Scars, after all, are a product of the past. You can't undo the past—but you can put it behind you, one day at a time.

 

 

Sources:

1. Scars, National Health Service. Accessed March 2, 2020.

APA Reference
Kim Berkley (2020, March 19). Do Self-Harm Scars Ever Go Away?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2020/3/do-self-harm-scars-ever-go-away



Author: Kim Berkley

Find Kim on Instagram, Facebook and her blog.

Jemma
February, 2 2023 at 7:52 am

I’m turning 14 this year I’ve been self harming since I was 10 I stopped because my mum found out but I didn’t actually stop I just moved from my upper arms to my thighs she didn’t notice for about 2 1/2 years. In may I got sick of doing in on my thighs it no longer hurt to see in the mirror it no longer hurt when I cut myself I didn’t feel a thing no matter how hard I tried so I started doing it on my upper arm again. It hurt It felt good then stopped hurting but I didn’t really care this time because I had a routine to follow ever since April I would cut myself every week I’d make a deadline for myself so if I did it on Thursday the next week I’d do it on Thursday again or before that cutting no longer felt good it felt like a chore but I didn’t care. Mum found out in December and has been trying to convince me to show her my arm I refuse. New School year started I have no friends in any classes I sit alone and no one talks to me I feel invisible to everyone. I can’t focus on my work because all I can think about is the appropriate time to ask to go bathroom for 10 minutes unnoticed so I could cut myself because I feel so shut I just want to feel something I’m so desperate I started on my wrist today for the first time and I love the burn but I’m worried about the long lasting scars and the fresh cuts that will keep coming because I can’t make myself stop for the life of me especially when I’m at school. I cook a lot I have cooking in school mums signing me up for cooking classes I need to roll up sleeves for cooking I’m screwed and I can’t decide to myself if I regret it or not if I could go back in time and change that decision would I do it?

m
January, 29 2023 at 2:52 am

hi i am a 14 year old girl and i have been struggling with self harm since i was 12. i am doing ok and am stopping and i havent relapsed in months. i really want to help and talk to anyone else who is struggling through self harm or even if you are not struggling with it, but just need someone to talk to. i dont feel comfortable posting my name but if you ever want to talk to me you can reply with your discord or snap or something

C
February, 1 2023 at 11:56 pm

Hi, i'm 11 and i have been struggling with self harm since I was 8. I have scars up my arms and legs and it is weird and embarrassing. As a young girl people don't tend to understand I have problems too. I don't put forth that much effort to hide my scars because I know they are a part of me but I can still get subconscious about them. I told a few close friends and one of them told my school counselor and she of course had to tell my mom. Although my mom tries to understand I can tell she can't, I sometimes notice her looking at my arms and shaking her head. I just feel like i mess up so many things and tonight was very hard for me. We had an incident and now I feel worse than ever. I feel like life would be better here on earth for my single mother is I was gone. She has me and my brother and I feel like a rock holding her down. I feel like my brother and mom hate me and I'm not OK. I want to get better so when I got a very deep urge I resisted since I have been sober for a month now :) I just want help.

kenna
January, 25 2023 at 8:16 pm

hey, im 14 and have been self-harming since I was 13 and these scars wont fade and im really scared that they are going to be there forever and that people are going judge me for it especially because everyone ive known has already judged me for drug addiction. I really just dont want another reason for people to talk about me or laugh, can you please tell me how to make them fade quicker?

m
January, 29 2023 at 2:44 am

hi kenna im also a 14 year old girl with self harm scars and i really want them to fade. i have done some research and apparently bio oil, which you can buy at the chemist and silicone scar sheets can help fade scars. im not really sure how well it works but it definitely made my scars less raised. I bought my silicone scar sheets off aliexpress because its really cheap and i didnt want to ask my parents.

January, 31 2023 at 3:56 pm

Hi Kenna,
I'm sorry you're hurting and I'm sorry you're scared. Every scar and every body is different; it's possible your scars may still fade, but sometimes they don't, so know that it's possible some of yours might not fade all the way on their own. The best thing you can do is take really good care of your skin. For fresh wounds, practice good first aid -- keep the wound clean, use bandages, etc. For actual scars, you can use lotions and other skin care products that promote healing and general skin health (I like aloe vera gel; some people swear by products containing Vitamin E). If you can, it would be good to talk to a dermatologist about it--but I can imagine that might be difficult to do without a parent present, so if your parents don't know already, that might not be an option right now.
You may also want to check out some cover up options for the scars that may not fade:
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/7/self-harm-scar-cover…
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/9/self-harm-scars-in-t…
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2022/1/is-self-harm-scar-re…
I hope that helps. If you have more questions, I'll be able to reply for as long as I am still writing for the blog.
Take care,
Kim

Kai
January, 21 2023 at 9:56 pm

Hi,
I’m 13 years old and have been self harming for about a year now. Life got to its deepest darkest point and I felt like I had no where to turn. I’m not completely alright now, I’m about a week clean. Some of my scars faded and other are still here. I never felt like i ever went that deep though. I’m going on vacation in march and I need to be able to wear short sleeves and shorts. I don’t know what to do, I want help but I feel like I would be ashamed, or embarrassed if my parents find out about my scars.

T
January, 23 2023 at 10:43 pm

Hi, I am so sorry that you have gone through that, and i'm proud that your starting to heal. Please don't be ashamed to ask for help. Your parents are there for you and want to help, so allow them too. Also if you relapse it's okay, this isn't something that will just stop right away, but it will definitely help if you have family supporting you. I believe in you and am here if you need anything

January, 31 2023 at 3:42 pm

Hi Kai,
A week clean is fantastic; here's to keeping the streak going. :)
I understand about being worried to tell your parents. I don't know your parents or your relationship with them, so I can't say this for certain, but if you ever feel ready to talk to them about it, it can be a huge weight off your shoulders to not have to keep this secret from them. That being said, not everyone has parents who understand these things, so it will have to be up to you to decide if and when (if ever) to open up to them about this. But I do hope you have someone you can talk to--if not them, perhaps a friend, or a therapist or counselor.
In any case, it is true that sometimes it just makes more sense to cover your scars than show them. I've written a few posts about cover up options; hopefully you'll find some ideas there you can use:
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2022/3/hiding-self-harm-sca…
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/9/self-harm-scars-in-t…
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/7/self-harm-scar-cover…
Take care and best of luck,
Kim

Anonymous
January, 12 2023 at 7:59 pm

Hi,
I am 11 years old and started sh when I was 10.
Life got so hard and I was at my lowest point of my life. Im still in pain but I'm just to tired to sh I feel like there's something deeply wrong with me because I'm to tired to hurt myself. I've tried to quit many times but just can't, although most of my cuts healed I still always seeing them when I put on my sweater or put on my bracelets and i just get scared if anyone would see them like my oldest sister. Seeing my scars make me remember bad things but knowing I healed from it more then ever really helps. If you ever need help with anything or need to talk with someone there will always be someone with you that cares for your truly. Decide who you feel comfortable telling.

Hi
January, 19 2023 at 9:07 pm

I feel so awful for all of these young kids saying they've self-harmed and I want to say it can get better but it's not fast. you will relapse and break down but you will eventually get better I can promise you that. there will be times when you relapse after being clean for so long but if you try and have a view of trying in life you can do it. I know what it's like to self-harm, I started when I was 10 years old and at 13 I'm still struggling with self-harm I have permanent scars and it hurts to see them. but what matters is your scars do not define you. things can and will get better and it may be a month, a year, or a day, but it can get better if you try. what has helped me is to write about how I feel or read. I wish you and everyone who struggles with this luck in their recovery.

January, 31 2023 at 3:26 pm

Hi,
Thank you for this comment. It's always inspiring to read about other people's healing journeys, and I hope yours inspires others to start healing too. I absolutely agree that our scars do not define you--and that it can and DOES get better with time. I wish you luck as well; thanks again!
Sincerely,
Kim

January, 31 2023 at 3:12 pm

Hi,
I'm so sorry you're hurting, but please believe me when I say that it's GOOD that you're not hurting yourself. SH feels like a solution, but it creates more problems than it solves in the long run. Quitting can be very difficult; it's not uncommon to try multiple times before finally succeeding, but please know that it IS still possible for you to get better. Letting your scars heal is a good first step. So is reaching out here on the blog. If you can, please reach out to others in your life who you can talk through your feelings with -- ideally a mental health professional, but even trusted friends or family members can lend an empathetic ear and make all the difference.
Since you didn't ask for advice, I'll stop at that for now—but if you have any further questions/comments/etc, just ask. I'll be able to reply for as long as I'm still posting on the blog.
Sincerely,
Kim

Nick
January, 12 2023 at 10:50 am

hi uh so my name’s nick & ive been sh for almost a year now.. the scars are pretty deep since the first time & I was once clean for 5 months before I relapsed. My teacher found out & now my entire class knows abt it & even my mom. She often checks my wrist but she doesn’t know about my thighs or my shoulder or legs, etc. im clean for 2 months rn but im so close to relapsing a 2nd time bro.. i don’t know what to do.

January, 31 2023 at 3:08 pm

Hi Nick,
I'm sorry to hear that you're struggling. Two months is a huge step; whether you relapse or not, please know that two months clean is something to be proud of. If you've already relapsed, know that it doesn't have to mark the end of your healing; you CAN come back from it and get back on track. And if you haven't, know that there are things you can try that may help you avoid relapsing altogether—or at least mitigate the repercussions.
1- Talk to someone. Reaching out here was a great step. It would be even better if you can talk to your mom about how you're feeling, or your teacher, or a trusted friend. If you have a therapist or counselor, you can and ideally should talk to them and let them help you sort through what's going on.
2- Reconnect with WHY you want to get clean. Write about your reasons. Draw about them. Do whatever you can to remind yourself of what you're working toward, and that it's worth it. Believe me, it IS worth the work.
3. Minimize stress. See if you can figure out anything in particular that's making you feel like you need to SH, and then identify whether it's something you can change (e.g. going to bed earlier so you get more sleep and feel better) or something you can't, but can still control your response to (e.g. you have to go to school, but maybe you can learn some stress reduction techniques to make it a more positive experience -- or at least a less negative one).
For me, journaling, breathing exercises and meditations (especially urge surfing), and CBT workbooks have been a huge help.
I hope this helps. If you have more questions or comments, I'll be able reply to them here for as long as I continue posting on the blog.
Take care,
Kim

No name
January, 1 2023 at 7:57 pm

Hi. I am not saying my name but I am a 15 year old female. I have been doing sh since the start of my freshman year. I’m now a sophomore. My sh was never deep enough to have super obvious scars and because of that, it made me feel like my problems didn’t matter. I am still doing sh and I don’t know what to do. I promised my bf that I would stop but I just did it 10 minutes ago. My cuts are only deep enough to scar but not show too much. I still have my scars from freshman year however. What do i do? Can someone help me? I’ve had a couple failed attempts as well. But I’m not in that position anymore. I just continue to sh. I have scars on my legs, thighs, and wrists. What do I do, please help

No Name
January, 6 2023 at 9:38 pm

Hey, I’m a 14yo boy and my advice might not work for you but I’m around 80 days clean and am currently not fighting the urge to cut.
I usually did it all 1-2 weeks when I was extremely anxious, my scars are kinda deep and will most likely be permanent.
What helped me was:
1. antidepressants
2. I usually had a goal in mind like not injuring myself for a month, and I always tried to increase the goal even though it was difficult, at some point I had an extreme urge again and told myself that it’ll be the last time, surprisingly it kinda motivated me and actually worked
3. I talked to someone online about it and I often vented when I had the urge or was feeling anxious, to this day no one knows about it in real life
I wish you best of luck in the future, and it gets better :)
If you need someone to talk to reply and I’ll give you my discord
AGAIN I‘M JUST SOME KID AND IM NOT SURE IF IM PROVIDING HELPFUL INFORMATION BUT I TRIED MY BEST

January, 31 2023 at 3:01 pm

Hi,
Thank you so much for this comment. I'm glad that you felt able and willing to reach out and share these tips; I'm even more glad that they helped you, and I'm sure others will find them helpful as well. :)
Take care!
Kim

January, 7 2023 at 5:02 pm

Hi,
I understand feeling like your scars and your pain aren't significant enough. I also understand feeling lost in all that hurt. I'm sorry that you're still hurting, and that you're still hurting yourself. Have you tried reaching out to a therapist at all? At the very least, your school should have free counseling services that you could possibly take advantage of. A medical professional can be a huge help here.
If that's not an option, it sounds like maybe your boyfriend is someone you can talk to about this? Instead of making promises (and then being afraid to break them and disappoint him), maybe try and set up some goals with him. (You can also try this with another friend, if you have someone else you would rather talk to about this, or even on your own). Start small—instead of "I will never hurt myself again," which can seem too big a promise to keep and therefore not worth trying to, start with "I will not hurt myself today." If that's too much, it's okay to break it down into hours or even minutes if you have to.
Then, once you pass a goal, take a moment to acknowledge it. Pretend you are your own friend; wouldn't you be proud of them for trying to get better? Wouldn't you forgive them if they made mistakes along the way? Wouldn't you love them just the same? If you make progress, take a moment to pat yourself on the back (maybe even reward yourself for big milestones) before move on.
And then... do move on. Push the bar just a little bit further. Once you make it through one day, see if you can make it through two. And so on. Try not to be hard on yourself if you relapse; it happens. DO try and understand why you relapse, if and when you do, and use that knowledge to try and avoid it happening again.
Above all, know this. You are not alone, and you CAN do this. Recovery is possible. I myself am over 10 years clean now. It's not easy, but it gets easier and easier as you go.
Let me know if you have any more questions or comments. Take care.
Sincerely,
Kim

Tucker
December, 5 2022 at 8:04 pm

Hi, my name is Tucker. I just self harmed and I regret it. Im 14 and I am having a rough go at life. I wanna stop because I hate the scars but I dont know, its just an irresistable urge that I dont want to satisfy because of the outcomes, but I dont know how to stop.
Please help me.

January, 7 2023 at 4:19 pm

Hi Tucker,
I'm so sorry to hear you hurt yourself again, but know that it is not something you need to feel ashamed of. We all have difficult times in our lives, and we all have trouble coping sometimes—for self-harmers like you and me, sometimes we go back to hurting ourselves even when we wish we wouldn't. Stopping is hard, but it isn't impossible and it IS worth it.
If you haven't yet, try reaching out to a therapist or other professional if you can. It can make such a big difference to have someone like that in your corner. If nothing else, your school should have some sort of free counseling option; see if you can find out more about that, if you haven't already. Even if that's not an option right now, try and talk to someone else if you can, someone you trust and who will be supportive and really listen. Please also check out this resource page when you have a moment:
https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
I am not a therapist, nor do I know the full details of your situation. So unfortunately I can't give you a list of steps that will definitely lead to your being able to get clean. But know that you CAN do it, even if you have to do it on your own (I did). I can't say if this will work for you, but for me the first big step was figuring out WHY I wanted to get better. Not wanting scars is good, but I'll bet you have other reasons too, probably even more compelling ones. Think about it for as long as you need to. Once you find your answers, remind yourself of them often and especially whenever you want to hurt yourself. Write them down, draw pictures, whatever it takes to keep those reasons fresh in your mind.
It's also important to recognize WHEN you're hurting yourself and specifically WHY. If there are triggers you can avoid or change, do so. (For example, I used to hurt myself most often when I stayed up super late. Going to bed earlier was one thing that helped deter my urges.) For the triggers you can't avoid or change, you'll need to find some coping methods. If you don't know any offhand, for now start simple. For me, urge surfing is really helpful:
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/2/using-self-harm-urge…
Journaling and finding other creative outlets for your feelings is also a big help for most people. If you're not sure what to try, just try whatever sounds interesting. Worst case scenario: you won't find a particular option helpful, in which case you can stop (after giving it a fair chance) and try a different option. Some people like art therapy, some like music, others like writing; I use whichever of the three appeals to me most in that moment.
These are all just ideas to get you started. I hope this helps. Feel free to reply here or elsewhere if you have more questions or concerns; I'll try to respond as soon as I can.
Take care,
Kim

Dan
December, 5 2022 at 9:55 am

Hello! My name's Dan.
First of all, it's a really good that people address this issue. Hope everyone who came here found something that helped them. Thank you, Kim Berkley.
I have a lot of scars that many years old. I've been self-harming myself since I was 16, now I'm 22 and still do it sometimes. I'm not ashamed of it. I'm not ashamed of my scars. It helps me concentrate, dissociate from unwanted emotions. Most of the times it's light cuts or even just scrapes, but when I feel especially bad it can as far as second degree burns.
I perfectly understand that it isn't normal and unhealthy, but who is? I still wear long-sleeves even in hot weather, because I hate pity looks people give me.

January, 7 2023 at 4:28 pm

Hi Dan,
Thank you for your comment and your kind words. I do hope what I write here is helpful!
I'm glad you're not ashamed, although I do hope you are able to stop hurting yourself someday when you are ready. It's not for me to tell you to stop, so instead I will just gently remind you that there ARE healthier (and more effective!) ways to cope when you are ready to try them. I've shared some of the ones that have worked best for me in other blog posts here on this site; let me know if you want me to dig any up for you.
I do think becoming healthy, at least your own version of it (everyone's looks a little different) is worth striving for. But "normal"? Yeah, normal is an illusion. :)
Best,
Kim

Liz
November, 2 2022 at 5:04 pm

Hi!
I’ve been clean for almost a year and you van still see the scars. I know I shouldn’t be ashamed of that but I am. People have made comments and pretty mean stuff about my scars. Like it makes me feel weak. I’m mad at myself bc I should have stopped myself. The scars make me really insecure and weak. I always think what others think of me bc of my scars. I know I should be proud of myself not doing it again but there’s still the quilt. I’ve been hiding my scars, only some people have seen it and it made me really anxious. Idk what to do and how to make them disappear so that I can finally be brave to wear whatever I want.

November, 9 2022 at 11:07 am

Hi Liz,
First off, try not to minimize what you've accomplished. Staying clean for almost a year is massive progress. :)
I'm sorry that others have made you feel bad about your scars. I know it's hard not to internalize that, even though you're right—you don't need to be ashamed of your scars. (For what it's worth—you may feel weak, but you're not. It takes strength to survive and to heal.)
Unfortunately, if your scars are more than a year old, I'm not sure that you can force them to fade much more at this point, short of scar removal surgery—which I would recommend saving as a last resort. I wrote about that here:
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2022/1/is-self-harm-scar-re…
You might have to consider other options that will allow you to leave them uncovered—is there a believable cover story you could use anytime someone asked about them? (Maybe you tried to help a feral cat, or hurt yourself in the kitchen by accident?) This option really depends on what your scars look like, and how well the person knows you and your life.
Some folks also use tattoos to cover them, although some have expressed concern that tattoos can also be a form of self-harm for some folks. This would be entirely up to you. Instead of a real tattoo, you could maybe use temporary tattoos or even other forms of body art, like henna or body paint—this of course depends on your personal style/preferences as well as dress code requirements in different situations, like work or school.
Finally, makeup can be a pretty versatile option—if your scars aren't too puffy or raised, see if you can find a good foundation and/or concealer that matches the skin tone where the scars are. If the scars are in a place they might rub off, you might look at theatrical body paint options—makeup that is made to resist wear and tear and sweat.
I've written a few articles about cover-up options in the past:
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/7/self-harm-scar-cover…
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2022/3/hiding-self-harm-sca…
Ultimately though, if your scars don't go away (and I suspect they won't), the best thing would be to try and work through that guilt you're feeling. I know it's not easy, but if you're interested, I've written a bit about this too:
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2022/7/feeling-guilty-about…
I hope all of that helps. If you have more questions or concerns, feel free to reply here or elsewhere on the blog. Take care!
Sincerely,
Kim

Terri
October, 15 2022 at 3:24 pm

Hi I'm Terri.
Love what I read because I did self harm one day this month because of stress and a slight Uti so when you feel too emotional 😢 and feel like it's something besides Depression see if it's a Uti . I hate that I did it but it doesn't define me and I shouldn't feel guilty or ashamed. I guess I feel that way sometimes like I might be judged wrongly because some people think that you're trying to kill yourself and take the easy way out. Not true anyways it's pretty long and deep had to be sewn up with sutures. Sorry for anyone that self harms due to how bad mine is I promised people and myself that I would never do it again

October, 17 2022 at 1:02 pm

Hi Terri,
Thank you for your comment. I'm sorry for what you've been going through, but I'm glad if what I wrote helped you at all. It's good to hear that you're trying your best to stay away from self-harming in the future. We have a resources page if you need any help connecting with information or services related to recovery:
https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
Take care. If you have any further comments or questions, feel free to reply here or elsewhere on the blog. I'll be reading. :)
Sincerely,
Kim

Poison
September, 22 2022 at 11:44 am

I have some self harm scars now which I am proud of I survived but it also really makes me want to try and get more scars for some reason. I dont know why tho

October, 10 2022 at 6:04 pm

Hi Poison,
You should absolutely be proud to have survived. That being said, I do understand that feeling of wanting more scars—I've felt that too, in the past. The important thing is recognizing that this feeling will fade with time, and that it is not worth gaining more just to satisfy that urge.
Wishing you all the best,
Kim

Makayla
August, 22 2022 at 8:38 pm

Hey im 15 im going to school and i cut my wrisk and arm because im mad and sometime im deperresse and i cut myself idk what to do do i have to talk to one. Of my teacher at school

September, 12 2022 at 3:36 pm

Hi Makayla,
I'm sorry about what you're going through. I know it isn't easy, and it can be really overwhelming at first when you want to get better but aren't sure how or where to start. I definitely think reaching out to someone would be a good first step. Many schools (at least in the U.S.) have free counseling programs; if your school has something like this, I think that would be a great place to start. Even just talking to a teacher, if you have one you trust and like well enough to talk to about something like this, could be a good first step.
You might also want to check out our resources page, which includes some websites and even some hotlines you can go to for information and guidance:
https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
I hope that helps! If you have more questions or concerns, feel free to reply here or elsewhere on the blog, and I'll try and get back to you as soon as I can. Take care.
Sincerely,
Kim

Anida
July, 28 2022 at 10:14 am

It's been about 2.5 years since I last self harmed. The light coloured scars are easily visible on my tanned skin. Every time people see them they expect an explanation. The most annoying part is when my family forgets about it and they want me to explain again. I don't own anyone an explanation. I've been telling people my cat is responsible because it's easier. When ever I say that they don't have follow up questions. They have no idea the weight they might carry. I just hope that all of those who are recovering stop getting shamed for their past.

July, 29 2022 at 12:18 pm

Hi Anida,
Thanks for your comment. You're absolutely right that you don't owe anyone any kind of explanation; your scars, like your story, belong to you and no one else. I'm sorry it's been so frustrating for you, but I'm glad at least that it's been so long since you last self-harmed. 2.5 years is huge! In cases like yours, cover stories can definitely be helpful; while it can be important to talk to others about what you've been through, not EVERYONE needs to know, and you shouldn't be forced to disclose it to anyone you don't want to. Especially if you have good reason to believe they won't be understanding or supportive.
Maybe it would be possible to get a little healthy distance from the people in your life who are constantly questioning you—if you live together, for example, maybe you'll eventually be able to move out so that you don't have to deal with their questions as often. Or if you'd like some ideas for covering up your scars (NOT that you should have to, but it might be convenient to do so until your circumstances change), let me know!
Sincerely,
Kim

aaliyah
November, 5 2022 at 4:07 pm

hey ive been going through something similar and my dad saw my scars, he asked me to explain everything. i didnt want to and he grounded me. my life has been kinda tough and when i tried to talk to my “friend” she compared my life to hers. she was spewing all these lies saying “oh why are you sad you have a dog and parents i dont even have parents” meanwhile on snap she was posting her mom and her dog. it sucks having my feelings invalidated and im so sorry for anyone who has to go through this and its been getting hard to hide my scars. i have some on my upper forearm and on my shoulder. they make me very insecure and i hate having to hide them every time i go to my dads house. i hope anyone else who goes through this recovers and i wish them the best.

November, 9 2022 at 11:21 am

Hi Aaliyah,
I'm sorry to hear about the situation with your dad and especially with your friend. It was kind of you to reach out to others and wish them well; I want you to know that I wish you well too, and I hope you can find someone more suitable to talk to about what you're going through. If not your father or your friend, perhaps someone else in your life? If nothing else, you can always try and see if your school has free counseling services you can check out—even if you don't tell them everything up front, just being able to talk about the fact that you're struggling can be a good first step.
Thanks again for your comment. If you have any further questions or suggestions, feel free to reply here or elsewhere on the blog.
Sincerely,
Kim

Sarah
June, 28 2022 at 9:00 am

Oh my gosh I didn't expect to cry when I read the line 'You are not your scars. They are part of you, but they do not define you.' but here I am with tears in my eyes! I haven't self-harmed for maybe 7/8 years now, but I still have small silver scars on my forearm - no one seems to notice them as I am naturally very pale, but they always catch my eye.
I've come a long way since those days (thank you medicine and support systems), and I try to see these as battle scars and a reminder of how far I have come, however I do struggle sometimes with the thought of always having a reminder of my darkest days etched into my skin.
But, as you said, they do not define me. I am more than my mental health issues and my past struggles, but they made me who I am today, so I am trying to learn to accept them as just a part of me and to not feel shame - I wouldn't pass judgement on anyone for their scars, so what makes me so different?

July, 18 2022 at 11:51 am

Hi Sarah,
I'm so glad that my words meant so much to you, and I'm very glad to hear about your recovery! Your scars sound a lot like mine, and your struggles with them sound awfully familiar too. But you're absolutely right—there's no reason to judge others for their scars, and no reason to judge yourself so harshly, either. You deserve your own compassion as much as anyone else does. :)
Thank you so much for sharing this, it means the world to know I'm able to help at all, even a little. Take care!
Sincerely,
Kim

Alice
June, 23 2022 at 7:33 am

Hi,
I self harmed for a few weeks, ending a fortnight ago. I’m OK with seeing my scars (I don’t get triggered and I’m not inclined to do it again) and my parents know about them, but I still feel apprehensive about letting them see the scars and talking to them about it. However, I’m going on a swim camp soon, and need to sort something out (like long swim pants or something). How do I start that conversation?

June, 27 2022 at 4:03 pm

Hi Alice,
I'm so glad that you've begun to heal and that your parents at least know of your situation, if not all the details yet. Even so, I can imagine it's difficult to broach a topic like this—I came out about it to my parents when I started writing for this blog, and it was so hard to start talking, even when I knew they would be understanding about it all (and it was all many years behind me at that point).
I think the best place to start is an honest place. Maybe start by bringing up swim camp generally, and then explain to them what you're worried about and why. I am hopeful that if they know already about your self-harm, that they will understand why you're concerned. You may not need to show them your scars at all, unless they ask.
Also, if you need any ideas for cover-up options beyond long swimwear, here are some posts that might help:
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2022/3/hiding-self-harm-sca…
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/9/self-harm-scars-in-t…
I hope that helps. Feel free to reply here or elsewhere on the blog if you have any more questions, comments, or concerns. I wish you the best of luck with your recovery, and with swim camp!
Sincerely,
Kim

anon
May, 24 2022 at 9:29 pm

i used to sh on my left arm and thighs about 9-10 months ago (thats also how long ive been clean) and they are still pretty visible. when i did them i didnt have many friends and spent most of my time alone. now i have a lot more friends and i want to do things like swimming and since its getting hotter out i want to wear shorts and short sleeves. i wear jeans with holes in them where my scars show and most of my friends know about my scars on my thighs and dont care. but im still worried bc they dont know about the scars on my arms. they arent judgemental people but im still scared bc i dont think im ready for anyone to see those scars and i know thats ok. do you think these scars will ever fade?

anon
May, 31 2022 at 11:56 pm

something ive used that help my scars on my left arm fade was mederma, it didnt make it go away completely but it made them fade. but you should know you dont have anything to be ashamed of about your scars.

June, 6 2022 at 10:52 am

Hi,
I'm so glad to hear you have friends now and seem to be in a better place than you were 9-10 months ago. You're absolutely right—to whom you show your scars, and when, is your decision to make and shouldn't be rushed. I do hope you feel comfortable enough to share them with your loved ones one day, if they don't fade. Regarding your question—I'm afraid I can't offer you a definite "yes" or "no," as I'm not a doctor and every person's body is different and heals at a different rate. I do know that the longer scars stick around, the less likely they are to fully fade away, so it's possible yours may not. If, in the meantime, you need some other options to maintain your privacy, check out these posts:
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/9/self-harm-scars-in-t…
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2022/3/hiding-self-harm-sca…
I hope that helps! Feel free to reply here or comment elsewhere if you have any more questions, comments, concerns, etc., and I'll reply as soon as I can. I hope you're able to enjoy this summer to its fullest. :)
Take care,
Kim

Evelyn
November, 5 2022 at 4:04 am

Hey . Knowing that I'm not alone makes me feel better , but even so I'm still not very good at talking to people ... at all ,and with the self harming part it's a lot harder since I have to hide them. It's now worse since I go to a school were you have to wear uniforms ,and we'll mine is pretty unfortunate. I have to where short sleeves and long Kaky pants . My skin is kinda dark and we'll with my white looking scars it... it doesn't look so swell . With permanent scars and being in middle school is very hard. Yah know. Especially when you're at a age where rumors start spreading like wild fire. It's very hard .

November, 9 2022 at 11:17 am

Hi Evelyn,
I can see how school uniforms would make things even more difficult, with your scars being so visible and all. I'm so sorry—middle school is hard enough without that added stress. The good news is, middle school—and high school, for that matter—don't last forever, although it can seem like they will at times.
As for talking to people—honestly, there are still days when I feel like I'm bad at it, despite the fact that it's been part of my job for many years now. Opening up about such a vulnerable topic can be especially harrowing. I hear you—I know it's tough. The main thing is to practice—and to start small. Baby steps are okay; you don't have to jump into a full disclosure with anyone right off the bat. Even people who don't fully know what you're going through can be part of your support network if you're able to just let them know that you're having a hard time and appreciate having someone around to listen to you or distract you—whatever you need at the time.
Sometimes things won't go over well. Sometimes it will feel like you messed up big time, and you might wonder if you can come back from it. Generally, though, you can. One little trick I used to use a lot when I felt overwhelmed was to gain perspective by asking myself, "Ten years from now, will this still matter?" You'd be surprised how often the answer is no. And if the answer is yes—that's helpful too. That lets you know that what you're trying to do is worth trying to do—whether it works out or not.
I hope that helps. I'm here if you need to talk more.
Sincerely,
Kim

trin
June, 22 2022 at 11:50 am

if they are true friends they will accept you for you. for your flaws, for your perfections, for your scars, etc. they know about your thighs without judgement, they won't judge you bout your wrist scars. pls don't worry. :)

June, 27 2022 at 3:50 pm

Hi Trin,
I believe this, too. Some people may struggle to understand self-harm if they've never had personal experience with it. But even if they don't understand, part of friendship is being willing to TRY to understand, and to accept, and most of all, to do what you can to help your friends heal when they need to. :)
-Kim

Francesca
May, 15 2022 at 3:57 pm

hi I have a few scars on my arm and as it’s coming up to summer I won’t be able to hide them but I used a razor and there not really deep it’s only as if you cut your leg whilst shaving but how long do you think they will last and how to make them go away quicker

May, 18 2022 at 1:18 pm

Hi Francesca,
Thank you for your comment. I wish I could give you a concrete answer to your question, but I am not a doctor, and everyone's body is different—I can't give you an exact timeline for when, or even if, your scars will heal and fade completely. If they are recent and shallow, it is likelier that they will heal and fade soon, possibly entirely. The longer you've had them, the lower the chance that they will completely go away on their own. The best thing you can do is to take good care of the skin in the affected area. Keep it clean, maybe use aloe gel or a lotion containing vitamin E, to encourage healing (just be sure you use a product that's safe for your skin type, and don't go overboard). Otherwise, it's somewhat up to nature whether they will fade or not.
You do have options for removing them in the future if you deem it necessary. In the meantime, if they don't fade in time, I've written a few pieces about hiding scars in the summer:
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2022/3/hiding-self-harm-sca…
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/9/self-harm-scars-in-t…
I hope those articles help, and I hope you and your scars begin healing soon. Let me know if you have any other questions/concerns/comments/etc. Take care.
Sincerely,
Kim

anon
May, 14 2022 at 9:06 pm

About october-ish I started sh due to problems with my boyfriend. I was 13 at the time, I'm 14 now and told my boyfriend that when we got low I did sh, and we talked about it. After that I didn't feel as guilty about not telling him and forgot about it. My addiction was pretty hard. It was almost like even when we were good I needed those scars, I felt like I needed to sh. I did about 20 scratches per thigh a day. I had an addiction to it until December, and I've thankfully gotten out of it. I wore shorts today and I saw these very faded scars. It's been 4 months and I've overcome the sh but when I saw the scars faded, I felt like I had to make more. The urge is horrible and I just need to not do it again because summer is coming again and I want to be able to wear things I want. What do I do?

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