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When you’re trying to ‘move on’ from self-injury, you may want to help your scars fade a little

Our friend, Denice, shares what she’s discovered about helping scars fade and reducing how noticeable they are. Denice would like to remind you that she’s not a health care professional, and you should talk to your doctor or nurse before taking any medical action.

We’re talking about scars here, healed scars, not wounds. By taking care of wounds in the first place you can decrease the severity of scaring.


This has to be the number one method for reducing the vividness and hardness of scars.

Any sort of gentle rubbing and massaging seems to promote healing (by increasing the blood flow in the tissue perhaps) and seems to break down and smooth the collagen. Remember, scars are made up of a special kind of protective skin that has a lot of collagen in it. Massaging a fully healed yet young scar can help reduce the hardness and perhaps reduce the redness.

You should gently massage the scar and the nearby area regularly, every day at least. In weeks and months you may find the scar is less red, less raised and softer.

Why not use some moisturiser? Perhaps using moisturiser with vitamin E helps, but remember it’s the action of massage that helps the most.


Bio-oil is used on scars to reduce the appearance of them. It can be bought in various sized bottles and it has a clean but aromatic ‘woody’ smell to it. To use bio oil, you pour a very small amount onto clean fingers or a cotton wool ball and gently but firmly massage it onto the scarred area. Repeat this every day (evenings are the best time because then you have all night for it to sink in without it being disturbed from moving too much) and results can be seen within 6 to 12 weeks.

Bio oil is used with the aim of reducing the obvious colouring a scar can leave behind (pink-red or white) and softening any raised edges or indents; it makes the scar less noticeable. Bio oil isn’t just used for self-injury scars, but for stretch marks and any other discolouration of the skin (like birth marks) so you need not feel embarrassed about buying it. You can buy it in most places that sell make-up or hygiene products.

It works well if used daily as directed and the results can be surprisingly good. The one thing you need with this is patience as the results are not instant. Although bio oil can be expensive- ranging from £6 for the smallest bottle to £20 for the biggest bottle (average price), they last a long time and a little goes a long way. For example, if used daily but sparingly as recommended, the biggest size bottle can last a year or more.

Alternatives to Bio-Oil

Although many studies show that the complicated ingredients in Bio Oil help reduce the appearance of scars, other studies show that regular massage helps reduce scars as well. A combination Bio Oil or skin-nourishing cream and massage may be your best option if you’re concerned about scars and money.

  • Any body cream rich in vitamin E (daily massage is the key);
  • Cocoa butter therapy oil (some say this is better than just cocoa butter);
  • Rescue oil or rescue oil lotion (a simple competitor to Bio-Oil);
  • Cocoa butter.

Everyone has different experiences with these creams and oils because their scars are different, and because some people don’t treat their scars in the correct time frame or forget to use the product for a week here or there. Many people don’t spend enough time massaging their skin.

Some people love their favourite product, probably because they use it appropriately and consistently. Your experience will depend on many things, but remember it can take weeks for a scar to fade some, and months before you might consider the appearance to be noticeably reduced. The body heals itself as best it can over time, and your care and attention can help.

You can purchase these oils and creams from your local chemist / pharmacist and perhaps your highstreet supermarket. You could look online as well.

You could ask your chemist for guidance on commercial products. You don’t have to talk about self-injury – lots of people have scars or stretch marks.

Silicone Strips

These are cut to size and put on the scar area – they are particularly for raised, red scarring. They do seem to work, but in order to get results they need to be used for several months.

My GP prescribed them – I don’t know if they’re available over the counter – but my guess would be that they’re expensive (I think around the £23 mark) – so I’d try asking a GP first. Some doctors may not like to prescribe them if you still cut, but I still cut and mine was OK about them.

The recommendation it that these are over the scar area for as long as possible every day – the recommendation is 9-23 hours. The strips should be washed with a mild soap (I use baby shampoo) and left to air dry or ‘dabbed’ dry using a non-fluffy cloth – I use gauze swabs (which I get from the Practice Nurse).

The main problem with these is that I find that although they’re stickyish they don’t stay on as well as they could. I’ve actually stopped using them just now because of this, but I think that now that it’s getting cooler I’ll be wearing tops with longer and slightly tighter sleeves which will help to hold them in place.

I also found that if the strips were cut too small then they didn’t adhere to the skin so well. The ones I’ve got are almost square and I’ve found that the smallest size that stays in place is to cut the square into thirds.

Haelan Tape

This is a sticky tape which is cut anew to the right size every day. It reduces the redness of the scar.

It contains a steroid called ‘Fludroxycortide’. I was prescribed this for the flat scars that are still red and also the areas where the silicone strips (as mentioned above) won’t stay. You just cut a piece to the right size and stick it over the scar and leave it in place for the day and then re-apply a new piece the next day.

There are several things to remember about this product:

  1. It contains steroids
  2. It can only be used for a limited time
  3. You need to cut a new piece to the right size every day.

If you’d like to read more about scars, read what I know about Skin Camouflage!


Many thanks to Denice for sharing her experiences with us.


  • Paul

    Excellent accademic article on different options to manage self harm scars. Including

    • Paul

      including micro needling and laser treatment

  • Ade

    I’m a tattoo apprentice, I have a lot of scars. I’ve heard about micro needling, and done a little bit of research, but I’d like to know, does it work?

    • Wedge

      Don’t know, Ade. Unsure how it would help, and rather worried about the risk of doing too much causing further harm.

  • Marianne

    About silicon strips, you can maintain them in place with a simple bandaid.

  • Wedge

    Yes, Helen, light pulses / laser treatment can attempt to reduce scars, but we’ve not heard from anyone about it. We would suggest that the provider of such a surface should be experienced with scars – rather than just skin in general.

  • helen

    can you have laser treatment on scars, especially if they are raised and red. Or is there any other treatment available either on the NHS or private?


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