Skin camouflage products can help conceal self harm scars. The scars can be a continual reminder of the emotional distress that gave rise to the self harm and the events surrounding it such as abuse, bereavement, pressure at school or work, bullying. Self harm is often very private and most people who have self harmed wish to keep their scars private too. The act of self harm is frequently a coping mechanism for emotional distress and until that distress is dealt with the self harm is likely to continue.

I became involved in treating self harm patients at regular monthly clinics in one of London’s prisons. Whilst a skin camouflage practitioner never asks a patient how, when or why injuries came about, the fact that the patient was in prison indicated that all had not gone well in their life.

I continue to meet self harm clients in my work as an expert witness and when giving private skin camouflage consultations. Here are my thoughts on consultations involving self harm scars.

Self Harm Scars

  • Prior to the consultation find out whether the self harm can be treated with camouflage products. The products cannot be applied on open wounds
  • Be aware that the client may need to take breaks during the consultation. Having a stranger look at and touch the scars maybe a difficult experience for them. Set aside sufficient time for the consultation and ask the client if they would like a break
  • More than ever clients may feel embarrassed or anxious about showing their scars. They may not have revealed their scars to anyone else before, even close family members. Educate yourself about the reasons why people self harm.
  • It is often more time efficient and effective to cover a whole area than cover multiple scars individually.
  • Self harm scars are often on the lower arms and so use a fixing spray (e.g. Dermacolor Fixing Spray) to ensure that rub-off on clothing is kept to a minimum.
  • Scars caused by cutting or burning are likely to have a shiny or silvery surface. Use a mattifier (e.g. Make-Up International SuperMatte Anti-Shine) under the camouflage cream to make the scars less light reflective.
  • The application of silicone gel (e.g. Kelo-Cote or Dermatix) may help in fading and flattening even mature scars.
  • Have details of self harm support groups to hand if needed.  They are also good sources of professional information: www.harmless.org.uk, www.nshn.co.uk, www.firstsigns.org.uk