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How Do You Hide Your Self-Injury?

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When the wounds are fresh, I try to cover them with my clothing, like using sweaters, long sleeves, jackets, etc; or maybe using accesories, like lots of bracelets                         

In that time, I avoid letting my arm in the side so they can see it, I turn completely, or even try to hide my arm in different things I do.          

I do the same thing when I do it in my legs.

[female, age 18, began to SI near age 11]


Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

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I thought I would tell my story and post it on lots of forums as these are the places where I learnt all my tricks and how to deal with the scars left from self-harm. I cut 7 years ago and was left with a mixture of small white straight scars, big raised scars and deep flat ones. For the whole 7 years I have covered them up with clothing….none of my friends and family have seen them. I now have a tattoo over them. Here is all my advise on covering them, reducing there appearance and getting a tattoo:



Like I said I spent the last 7 years covering them up….fine in winter but a pain in summer! My tip is to where vests with very thin summer cardigans or shirts over the top. This is the best way to stay cool. People will constantly ask you ‘aren’t you hot wearing long sleeved’ (that drove me crazy!!), I would just say that I was sensitive to the sun and preferred just to cover up. Because everyone is used to it now I haven’t been asked that for years! If anyone would comment that they only ever see me in long sleeve I would just say I find it more comfortable and bush their questions aside. Work was a tricky one because I work in a nursery and spend summer inside. I would wear a long sleeve top under my polo shirt and of course some people asked me why. I said that I suffered allergies (dust mites, cats, dogs, etc) and if I touched one of the kids who had an animal at home I would come up in a horrible rash. Everyone brought it a kept saying how irritating it must be for me!!!


Swimming was another difficult issue. However I would simply find a way into the pool first (would wrap a towel around my arms after getting changed). Once in the pool no one would notice. Also I found a way of crossing my arms so you couldn’t see the scars (they are only on my left arm) which meant I could get out the pool and go on slides etc.



I used bio-oil and vitamin E (coco butter) cream regularly. They work well on new scars but only fade them slightly. On old scars I don’t think they make a difference at all. The bio-oil is expensive but worth an investment as it’s the best cream out there. I also used silicon sheets (I brought cheap ones from boots). They are a real hassle to wear but I stuck with them. Did they make a difference? I don’t think so!


I also used a Dermaroller….its a little device with tiny needles on which you roll over the scar making tiny pinpricks. It sometimes stings a little but not bad at all. They claim that when your body starts healing the pinpricks it will gradually start healing the scarring as well. This is a new product and I didn’t really use it long enough to see any effects. They are expensive but I got mine cheap on ebay for about £6.


In a lot of forums people were suggesting creams that can flatten scars and creams that can darken scars (so the white ones aren’t so noticeable). I did a lot of research and couldn’t actually find any of these creams available.



About a year ago I decided I was so fed up with my scars that I would do anything in my power to get rid of them. So I plucked up the courage and went to my gp. They then referred me to a scar specialist who offered me laser treatment on the NHS. The treatment is lengthy as you have to leave a lot of time between having the scars lasered (they recommend about three sittings). Basically a machine lasers the top of your scar away. After the treatment the scars will go red and more noticeable, but after a few months they go down….then you have the next treatment. The reviews on this treatment is mixed. Some claim massive differences others say it made no difference at all. There is also a minor risk that the scars will stay permanently redder.


I decided not to go for the treatment as I came across another solution; getting a tattoo. I am going travelling soon and didn’t have time to get this treatment done (I wish I had gone to the docs sooner!).



Ok so I read a lot of forums and many mentioned getting a tattoo. I did and I am very happy with the results. I had branches growing up my arm with flowers and lots of buds growing off them. Firstly it is important to note you can still see the scars, however only in certain lights (only when they are caught in a shadow so you notice they are raised). The small white ones are invisible though!! Most people see only see the tattoo. The ones who do see the scars only see the few large ones (and not the lots of little ones surrounding them), this means its much easier to make up an explination and its not obvious that they are self-harm scars. There are a few things to note when tattooing over scars:

  • Find the right tattooinst…make sure they have done it before. I went to 6 before I finally found one I was happy with. I knew it was right when I got there (Tat2-u in Reading….fantastic!). Don’t be embarrassed…I guarantee you will not be the only person they have had going to them with lots of cut scars!
  • Black does cover the scars a bit better as you don’t notice the shadow. However I some of mine have colour over and I think the difference is minimal (unless you want an all black tat, its hard to get all the scars into the black part of a design)
  • Choose a busy design with lots going on….this detracts the eye away from the scars and makes them fit in much better. Tribal tattoos or other block colour designs do not cover them well at all. Go for shading and if possible a natural design (such as flowers and vines). They are much better and look more natural as they can ‘grow’ around your arm and cover the tattoos. It looks even better if the scar is part of the design (one of my scars is the branch to a flower bud…you can’t see it at all!)
  • Some scars are too deep to tattoo over…only one of mine was too deep and I think it helps as on its own it looks like a injury I got in a bad accident and after seeing the tattoo most notice that 1 large scar and don’t see the scars hidden under the design.
  • It is a little bit more painful over the larger tattoos….but really the difference is minute! Plus getting a tattoo is painful anyway so I don’t think this should be an issue (its not unbearably painful so don’t let you put you off….and just think it’s a means to an end!)
  • Some scars do need touch ups and some take the ink better than normal skin…just pre-arrange a price with the tattooist if any touch up needs doing.
  • The scars have to be at least a year old.
  • The ink in the scar can run (mine didn’t) so don’t do any detailed work such as lettering over it.


I can’t get a picture of mine to load buts here some pictures of other peoples result:[/embed]…[/embed][/embed]…


My advise is use the creams and the silicons first. Go to your doctors and have the laser treatment if its possible. These scars are something you have to live with your whole life so taking a year or two out to get them looking the best you can is worth it in the long run. Finally once they are as reduced as you can get them then go for a tattoo. Don’t rush into it. Make sure you LOVE the design and it is something you 100% want for the rest of your life. Also make it have a meaning….for me it is a new start. The sad fact is that the big scars will never go away. Having a tattoo hid the little ones and covers the big ones well. For me it was the best decision I have ever made.


My final bit of advice is read forums and listen to other peoples stories…this really helped me get through the lonely depressing times of living with my scars. You are not alone and there are others going through exactly the same thing. I hope my story has helped you and if you want to ask any particular question just post it on here and I’ll keep checking back. Good luck! xxx

Gill's picture
Gill (not verified)

I started self-injuring at about 13 and more so when my mother died. It’s never enough to leave scars but draw blood. However, I find hiding it to be a problem because my parents and friends notice when the long sleeves are back. Is there anything else I can hide them with and still be sutle?


Thank you individuals for sharing how to cover up tattoos with scars. I am 25, recovered self-injurer and for the first time in my life the thought came to me to cover up the scars on my arm.

While contemplating the move, I’ve entertained such thoughts such as “Does covering my scar mean denying my past and that I am a survivor”? “Am I erasing the opportunity to help someone else?”. What about professionally? Ever time I meet a client he/she will see a tattoo sleeve on my wrist? I guess it’s better to see a tattoo sleeve opposed to the word “HATE” carved in someones arm… I’d rather be seen as “over the edge” rather than “mentally unstable’.

Points I’ve taken away:
Consult professional opinion before getting the tattoo
Choose a tattoo you will not regret 50 years from now
Select a tattoo which will cover your scars properly
Research the tattoo artist and make sure he/she has experience in this area, I didn’t consider this

Thanks for sharing again and good luck on your journey :)


I found this forum by typing my own website’s URL into a search engine and I would just like to say that my butterfly tattoo, pictured at was not done to cover self injury. I had it done to cover a bad surgery scar. I might add that after 9 years, the tattoo is still as clean and sharp as ever. I have no idea how well tattoos cover self injury scars though. If you would like to see the “before and after” photos of the scar and the result, you can find them here…[/embed]


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