Self-harm is a growing problem in UK prisons with women self-harming more than men. Self-harm can leave permanent scarring. Research on scarring suggests that living with scars can lead to psychological difficulties; however, there is little research on the specific effects of self-harm scars. Medical skin camouflage (MSC) can be used to cover numerous skin conditions. The use of MSC for women in prison with self-harm scars has not been examined previously. A focus group involving 10 women prisoners aimed to (1) explore feelings about self-harm scars, (2) examine effects that scars have on life in prison and (3) examine thoughts on using MSC in prison. This group formed part of a larger project designed to test the feasibility and acceptability of MSC for women who self-harm in prison. A topic guide was created with two service user researchers with experience of self-harm in prison. The results have been divided into three themes: (1) feelings about self-harm scars, (2) covering self-harm scars and (3) attitudes towards MSC. Our findings indicate that women in prison tend to feel embarrassed and self-conscious about their scars, and the presence of scars affects their relationships within prison. The women were enthusiastic about MSC, suggesting that it has the potential to affect women’s well-being and ability to engage with others.
Gutteridge, K., Dunlop, B., Patterson, M., Mitchell, H., Philbin, J., Walker, T., ... Abel, K. (2019). An exploratory study of women prisoners’ attitudes towards their self-harm and the use of medical skin camouflage. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology, 30(1), 167-184. https://doi.org/10.1080/14789949.2018.1530285