Self-Harm Scars in the Summer
Self-harm scars and summer go together like peanut butter and fish—in other words, not at all. Here are some of the challenges of living with scars in the summer and some ideas for how to cope.
Self-Harm Scars in the Summer: Challenges
Summer means heat, and heat makes you sweat (assuming you don't spend the entire season ensconced in indoor air-conditioning). All that sweat can make your scars, especially if they are relatively fresh, itch like crazy.
But of course, this is far from the biggest challenge of sporting self-harm scars in the summer. Summer is the season of beach trips and pool parties. If your history of self-harm is a secret known only to a few (or worse, only to you), it can be incredibly difficult to keep that secret without rejecting every invitation or, at the very least, condemning yourself to lounge chair limbo (and constantly making up excuses why you can't go for a dip).
Even if you can avoid the beach/pool situation entirely, summer is also the season of shorts and tank tops. If your scars are on your legs, it's a little easier to get away with continuing to wear long skirts or pants without attracting too much curiosity. If you wear jackets and pullovers in 90-degree weather, however? That's sure to raise at least a few eyebrows.
This problem of how to cover up scars while shedding winter layers isn't only a concern for those of us who have yet to disclose their self-harm, either. Even as someone who is "out," perhaps even publicly, it may be embarrassing to put your scars on full display.
Self-Harm Scars in the Summer: Solutions
If your scars itch from getting sweaty, I've found that rinsing off the area helps, as does applying a cool compress. If they itch because the heat is drying your skin out, on the other hand, lotion usually does the trick. And if you have itchy scabs, keep them covered (if possible) with a bandage until they heal. (I've found this helpful for not only helping them heal but also preventing me from unconsciously picking at them.)
Keep in mind, though, I am not a medical professional. If you're having a lot of trouble with itchy scars (or itchy skin in general), be sure to talk to a doctor—ideally, a dermatologist.
I've talked before about various ways to cover up your scars, some of which work better than others for self-harm scars in the summer. Bandages work all right if you're willing to make up a cover story (and don't plan on getting them wet), while some theatrical makeup products might hold up even in the water, at least for a while. Longer-term cover-ups, like tattoos or scar removal surgery, may also be worth considering.
However, if your scars are subtle or in a place not likely to be exposed, chances are you don't have to cover them up at all. If you can work up the courage to pretend they aren't there, it's likely no one else will notice them. If anyone does ask, you can always just say you don't remember where you got them—the smaller and fainter they are, the more believable this will be. (I've used this trick several times in the past. It works way better than it should.)
Finally, if your scars are pretty obvious, consider showing them off anyway. I know it's not easy. I know it may be downright horrifying. And there may be good reasons for not doing this—it all depends on who will see them and what you're willing to share with the individual(s) involved. But if the only reason you are hiding your scars is shame, it's worth at least considering whether now might be the time to push past that.
Because the truth is, you have nothing to be ashamed of. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: You are not your scars. They do not define you, and I hope you will not let them define your life. Above all else, summer is the season of fun—so please, go and have some while the light lasts. It will be winter again soon enough.
Kim Berkley (2021, September 2). Self-Harm Scars in the Summer, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, November 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/9/self-harm-scars-in-the-summer