Archive for Selfharm

First aid tips for self-harm.

Author note : Everything mentioned here is not to be substituted for medical advise .

Let’s open this by saying if it is a serious injury or an overdose you need to immediately seek medical advice from A&E, 911, 999 or 112.

Be aware of first aid and have a well stocked kit.

Make sure your tetanus vaccination is up to date.

Avoid alcohol and drugs

Work on using your distraction and coping techniques

You deserve professional care before you harm yourself – you can present to A&E without an injury

How to seek medical help?

Call the emergency services immediately

For more minor injuries see your doctor, walk in clinics

The most important message to take from reading this is if you are ever in any doubts as to how serious the injury is always seek medical advice.

Burn care:

A burn is where tissue damage occurs after being exposed to heat, cold, electricity or chemicals.

There are 3 types of burns that can occur

First degree-superficial - Minor burns which redden the skin – e.g. sun burn – can usually be treated at home

Signs and Symptoms

Reddens the skin

Area feeling slightly warmer than other areas of the body

No blistering

Skin will be soft

Moderate to mild pain that will leave fairly quickly

Second degree- Partial thickness- moderate in severity - causes reddening of the skin and blistering

Signs and symptoms

Redness at and around the surrounding area

Skin will be soft

Blisters will be filled with a clear / yellow fluid

Peeling skin – develop over time

Severe or moderate pain that will go away within a few days.

Third degree-full thickness- severe - can involve charring or whitening of the skin–has penetrated through the entire layer of skin – For all full thickness burns, medical aid must be sought –

Signs and symptoms

White of charring of the skin – with redness around it

Immediate blistering

Skin can feel hard, tough or leather like to the touch

Peeling skin – will happen very soon after burn

Minimal or no pain at the injury site due to nerve damage

Surrounding area may be severely painful

4th degree burns:

In some countries 4th degree burns which impact the skin and fat. Also underlying muscles, ligaments, organs and ligaments. This type of burn is very rare although can happen in thermal burns, entry and exit points of electrical shock and chemical burns.

If in doubt about a burn, please seek immediate assistance

Immediate treatment:

Remove the source of the burn

Burns need to be run under cold running water for at least 15 minutes (time it)

Do not put any creams, oils, butter or grease near a burn

Please do not burst blisters as this can be a pathway for infection – If blistered dress with a light non stick sterile dressing

Remove jewellery from affected area

Keep the person warm while cooling the burn

Do not use ice on a burn

Do not remove anything stuck or embedded

Call an ambulance or A&E

Involved in a building / car fire.

A large burn

Difficulty breathing

Altered level of response. E.g. erratic behaviour, not responsive to questions

The person is under 12, elderly or weakened


Many wounds can be dealt with at home – particularly superficial ones.

For superficial wounds that are not bleeding

Clean the area with an antiseptic wipe and apply a dressing.

(If no antiseptic wipes – use clean water, wound wash or a mild anti bacterial soap. Do not scrub the wound as this may dislodge coagulated blood-when your blood cells clot over the wound. )

Do not use homemade products – saltwater. Also do not sue iodine directly on a wound as they can be detrimental to healing and can increase scaring.

Wound needs to be kept clean and dry, when dressing or changing wounds always remember to wash hands.

Do not pick the wound or touch it unnecessarily.

For a wound that is bleeding:

Apply pressure on the wound with a clean, absorbent – non sticky / non disintegrating item- Avoid cotton wool, toilet paper and tissues – Gauze pads and clean towels are acceptable.

Once pressure is applied do not remove the pad for 10 minutes, if blood appears through pad apply additional pads on top. Remember to elevate the area above the heart only if there is no obvious sign of fracture.

If after 10 minutes the wound is still bleeding or you are experiencing symptoms of shock, urgent medical assistance is requiring.

Any wound that spurts blood needs to be evaluated by a doctor ASAP.


Determine if the wound may need stitches or not. A wound may need stitches if;

It is still bleeding after 10 minutes of pressure.

The edges of the wound gape more than 1cm apart.

You can see stringy stuff or yellowish bubbly stuff inside the wound.

The wound is on your lower leg.

The wound is on a joint, or an area where the skin is pulled a lot.

If you work in a job where you get dirty and the wound has a high chance of getting contaminated.

Stitches usually need to be placed within 12 hoursGetting medical care

If nerves or tendons have been affected , the injury is on a joint

Something is embedded in the wound - leave in place- do not remove

The wound is in the genitals , mouth , hand or face .

The wound does not heal properly or shows sign of infection

General Advice:

Make sure anything you cut with is clean - use new blades

Never cut the wrist over any blood vessels

Do not cut deeply .

Sprains / strains

A sprain is where damage is caused to the ligament by overstretching. Sprains are associated with joints: usually ankles, wrists, knees, elbows and fingers. It is common for a sprain to occur alongside a fracture or strain but a sprain can occur without any fracture.

A strain on the other hand occurs when a muscle is overstretched. This can occur to any muscle in the body – the saying pulled muscle is in relation to a strain.

Signs and symptoms of a strain or sprain



Loss of movement or difficulty in movement


Possible weakness in the affected limb

Treatment of strains and sprains:RICE

It is essential to protect the area from further injury

Rest – rest the injured area

Ice- Ice the injury for no more than 20 minutes every hour

Compression – Bandaging – reduces swelling- do not apply the bandage too tightly as this can compromise blood flow

Elevation – raise the affected area above the heart

It is advisable to be seen at your doctors or in your local A&E department, in particular if symptoms as above are severe


A fracture is a break or crack in a bone – there are numerous different types of fractures. Fractures always need to be treated and reviewed immediately but A&E.

Signs and symptoms of a fracture



Loss of moving


Crepitice –where you can hear the bone moving within the skin

Deformity –irregularity

Bone protruding through the skin


Decreased range of movement

Nausea and or vomiting from pain and shock

If suspected broken ribs, difficulty breathing or pain when breathing.


Needs to be seen by a doctor to ensure the correct healing of the bone

If the limb is not straight, please do not try to straighten it

If there is a bone protruding through the skin, do not push it back into the limb. Do not walk on a suspected leg fracture

If a person cannot move , is in too much pain , has any pain , neck , pelvic fractures , moderate or severe bleeding , open fracture where the bone protrudes or multiple injuries and ambulance needs to be called

RICE as described with sprains or strains is to be used while awaiting medical attention.


Severe cuts, burns or injuries can cause the body to go into a physiological shock which in turn can lead to a reduction in blood flow. If untreated, shock can lead to a collapse, coma and death.

Signs and symptoms of shock

Faint, weak pulse

Dizziness, faintness and nauseous

Rapid, shallow breathing

Rare occasions blue lips

Cold clammy skin

Restlessness/ irritability

Treatment of shock:

Seek immediate help – call the emergency services

Lay flat and immediately elevate the legs

If with some keep them comfortable and reassure

If casualty feels cool, cover him or her with a blanket

If a wound is bleeding severely, apply pressure

Do not eat or drink

If you are alone, try and let your door open to allow emergency personal access to your home

Don’t raise the head

Do not eat or drink


Infection can occur when a contaminant enters a wound or injury. The contaminant can be bacteria, virus, and parasites. An infection occurs when a contaminant enters the body and overwhelms the body’s natural defences.

Signs and Symptoms of infection

Redness or swelling around the wound

Increased heat

Pus drainage- can be thick white, brown, green o bloody



Increased pain

Odour coming from the wound

For more severe infections

Increase in wound size

Red streaks that move towards the heart from the wound

Of course in an ideal world, the best treatment is prevention of an infection

Contact your doctor or A&E and get an immediate appointment

Do not take old antibiotics, or try and drain wounds; do not place any ointments, alcohol on the infection.

As previously stated , this advise does not substitute medical advise .


Self-Poisoning – Where someone purposely exposes themselves to a poisonous substance as a method of self harm or suicide.
Overdose – When someone takes more than the daily recommended dose for a medication or substance it is considered an overdose. This may be done by accident, or as a method of self harm or suicide.

Anytime you have taken an overdose or self poisoning, intentional or not, you should get checked out by a doctor.

The signs and symptoms of self-poisoning or an overdose will vary depending on the substance taken. However the following are some general signs and symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms

Missing pills/medications
Empty medication containers/pill bottles
Empty containers of things that are poisonous.
Vomit with pills in it.

Headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea.
Abdominal pain.
Chest pain or difficulty breathing.
Blurred visions, slurred speech, lack of coordination or balance.
Decreased level of consciousness.

Not all substances will cause symptoms to appear right away. Some substances can stay in your system for days, or the damage can continue for days without you even knowing it. Just because someone feels fine after an overdose or self-poisoning DOES NOT mean that there was no damage to their system.

If you or someone you know has taken an overdose or self-poisoning;
Write down what medication you’ve taken, including the number of tablets and dosage, and also if you have drunk any alcohol.

DO NOT give ANYTHING by mouth.
DO NOT Sleep
DO NOT Drive
DO NOT encourage someone to throw up if they are suspected of consuming a liquid poison or medication.
DO NOT encourage someone to throw up if they have a decreased level of consciousness.

DO encourage them to throw up if they have taken a solid substance and are fully awake.
DO call your doctor, A&E, emergency services.
DO find someone to take you to the appropriate medical facility as directed by the medical professional you spoke with at one of the above numbers.

You might feel physically well, but the effects of an overdose can be delayed and fatal.

There are no safe limits to self-poisoning. Not seeking medical help can result in serious, long-term, irreversible damage to your health, including death.

Call an ambulance immediately if someone has overdosed or been poisoned and

They are combative
They can't walk or move without assistance
They are having seizures
They are unconscious or have a decreased level of consciousness
They have stopped breathing

When you go to the doctor’s or hospital you should bring the bottles or containers that the substance was in

Self-harm safety tips.

Minimise self-harm damage

If you feel an even stronger urge to self-harm, try the following harm minimisation tips:

  • Use a red felt tip pen to mark where you might usually cut;
  • Hit pillows or cushions, or have a good scream into a pillow or cushion to vent anger and frustration;
  • Rub ice across your skin where you might usually cut, or hold an ice-cube in the crook of your arm or leg;
  • Put elastic bands on wrists, arms or legs and flick them instead of cutting or hitting;
  • Have a cold bath or shower.

"One of the reasons that young people say they self-harm and may be cutting or injuring themselves, is that something has happened in their life that has made them feel contaminated or polluted by what's happened, whether it's physical or emotional," says Frances McCann, mental health practitioner. "It becomes a way of 'letting something out' and dealing with feelings of self-disgust or low self-esteem."

The A-Z of distractions

Often the best thing is to find out what has worked for other people who understand where you're coming from. asked young people from young people's mental health service, 42nd Street in Manchester, to come up with some of the alternatives that help them.

  • Alternative therapies: massage, reiki, meditation, acupuncture, aromatherapy.
  • Bake or cook something tasty.
  • Clean (and won't your folks/housemates be pleased!).
  • Craftwork: make things, draw or paint.
  • Dance your socks off.
  • Eat sweets or chocolate for an instant sugar rush (but be careful of the dip in your mood once it's over).
  • Exercise for a release of endorphins and that feel-good factor.
  • Forward planning - concentrate on something in the future, like a holiday.
  • Go for a walk (preferably further than the local pub).
  • Go online and look at websites that offer you advice and information.
  • Hang out with friends and family.
  • Have a bubble bath with lots of bath bombs fizzing around you.
  • Have a good cry.
  • Hug a soft toy.
  • Invite a friend round.
  • Join a gym or a club.
  • Knit (it's not just for old people you know).
  • Listen to music.
  • Moisturise.
  • Music: singing, playing instruments, listening to (basically making as much noise as you can).
  • Open up to a friend or family member about how you are feeling.
  • Pop bubble wrap.
  • Phone a helpline or a friend.
  • Play computer games.
  • Play with a stress ball or make one yourself.
  • Read a book.
  • Rip up a phone directory (does anyone actually use them these days?).
  • Scream into an empty room.
  • Shop 'til you drop.
  • Smoke - smokers find that having a fag can help.
  • Spend time with babies (when they're in a good mood).
  • Tell or listen to jokes.
  • Use the internet.
  • Visit a zoo or a farm (animals do the best things).
  • Volunteer for an organisation (will make you feel all warm inside).
  • Watch TV or films - particularly comedies.
  • Write: diary, poems, a book.
  • Write negative feelings on paper, then rip them up.
  • Yoga: meditation, deep breathing - this might help you relax and control your urges.
  • Zzz - get a good night's sleep.

There are many self-help tips that may help you, otherwise known as 'alternatives to self-harm', or 'coping tips and distractions'. You might find some are more effective than others. Don't be disheartened if a technique isn't successful. Try a different one to see if it works better for you. Here are a few you might want to try:

The 15-minute rule - if you're feeling the urge to self-harm, give yourself 15 minutes before you do. Distract yourself by going for a run or writing down your feelings. When the time's up, see if you can extend it by another 15 minutes. Try to keep going until the urge subsides;

Meditation - try to visualise the urge as an emotional wave you can surf. Imagine it reaching a crescendo then breaking as you successfully resist its force;

Write a list of things you've achieved that make you feel proud, or fill a box with things that make you happy, such as pictures of friends and loved ones. Keep them handy and look at them when you're feeling bad;

Practice expressing your emotions and feelings through art or writing or talking to a friend.

What is Self-harm?

Self-harm (SH) or deliberate self-harm (DSH) includes self-injury (SI) and self-poisoning and is defined as the intentional, direct injuring of body tissue without suicidal intent.