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Old March 13th, 2008, 12:21 AM   #1
...La De Dah!
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Name: Heather, Duh.
Join Date: March 29, 2004
Location: The Sunshine State.
Gender: Female
Blog Entries: 111
Default Getting Help with Self Harm Including First Aid

This forum tries to prevent self-injury, but if something happens you need to know what to do.
First Aid For Minor Cuts

Minor cuts and scrapes usually don't require a trip to the emergency room. Yet proper care is essential to avoid infection or other complications. These guidelines can help you care for simple wounds:
  1. Stop the bleeding. Minor cuts and scrapes usually stop bleeding on their own. If they don't, apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth or bandage. Hold the pressure continuously for 20 to 30 minutes. Don't keep checking to see if the bleeding has stopped because this may damage or dislodge the fresh clot that's forming and cause bleeding to resume. If the blood spurts or continues to flow after continuous pressure, seek medical assistance.
  2. Clean the wound. Rinse out the wound with clear water. Soap can irritate the wound, so try to keep it out of the actual wound. If dirt or debris remains in the wound after washing, use tweezers cleaned with alcohol to remove the particles. If debris remains embedded in the wound after cleaning, see your doctor. Thorough wound cleaning reduces the risk of infection and tetanus. To clean the area around the wound, use soap and a washcloth. There's no need to use hydrogen peroxide, iodine or an iodine-containing cleanser.
  3. Apply an antibiotic. After you clean the wound, apply a thin layer of an antibiotic cream or ointment such as Neosporin or Polysporin to help keep the surface moist. The products don't make the wound heal faster, but they can discourage infection and allow your body's healing process to close the wound more efficiently. Certain ingredients in some ointments can cause a mild rash in some people. If a rash appears, stop using the ointment.
  4. Cover the wound. Bandages can help keep the wound clean and keep harmful bacteria out. After the wound has healed enough to make infection unlikely, exposure to the air will speed wound healing.
  5. Change the dressing. Change the dressing at least daily or whenever it becomes wet or dirty. If you're allergic to the adhesive used in most bandages, switch to adhesive-free dressings or sterile gauze held in place with paper tape, gauze roll or a loosely applied elastic bandage. These supplies generally are available at pharmacies.
  6. Get stitches for deep wounds. A wound that is more than 1/4 inch (6 millimeters) deep or is gaping or jagged edged and has fat or muscle protruding usually requires stitches. A strip or two of surgical tape may hold a minor cut together, but if you can't easily close the mouth of the wound, see your doctor as soon as possible. Proper closure within a few hours reduces the risk of infection.
  7. Watch for signs of infection. See your doctor if the wound isn't healing or you notice any redness, increasing pain, drainage, warmth or swelling.
  8. Get a tetanus shot. Doctors recommend you get a tetanus shot every 10 years. If your wound is deep or dirty and your last shot was more than five years ago, your doctor may recommend a tetanus shot booster. Get the booster within 48 hours of the injury.

If possible, before you try to stop severe bleeding, wash your hands to avoid infection and put on synthetic gloves. Don't reposition displaced organs. If the wound is abdominal and organs have been displaced, don't try to push them back into place. Cover the wound with a dressing.
For other cases of severe bleeding, follow these steps:
  1. Have the injured person lie down. If possible, position the person's head slightly lower than the trunk or elevate the legs. This position reduces the risk of fainting by increasing blood flow to the brain. If possible, elevate the site of bleeding.
  2. While wearing gloves, remove any obvious dirt or debris from the wound. Don't remove any large or more deeply embedded objects. Don't probe the wound or attempt to clean it at this point. Your principal concern is to stop the bleeding.
  3. Apply pressure directly on the wound. Use a sterile bandage, clean cloth or even a piece of clothing. If nothing else is available, use your hand.
  4. Maintain pressure until the bleeding stops. Hold continuous pressure for at least 20 minutes without looking to see if the bleeding has stopped. You can maintain pressure by binding the wound tightly with a bandage (or even a piece of clean clothing) and adhesive tape.
  5. Don't remove the gauze or bandage. If the bleeding continues and seeps through the gauze or other material you are holding on the wound, don't remove it. Instead, add more absorbent material on top of it.
  6. Squeeze a main artery if necessary. If the bleeding doesn't stop with direct pressure, apply pressure to the artery delivering blood to the area of the wound. Pressure points of the arm are on the inside of the arm just above the elbow and just below the armpit. Pressure points of the leg are just behind the knee and in the groin. Squeeze the main artery in these areas against the bone. Keep your fingers flat. With your other hand, continue to exert pressure on the wound itself.
  7. Immobilize the injured body part once the bleeding has stopped. Leave the bandages in place and get the injured person to the emergency room as soon as possible.
If you suspect internal bleeding, call 911 or your local emergency number. Signs of internal bleeding may include:
  • Bleeding from body cavities (such as the ears, nose, rectum or vagina)
  • Vomiting or coughing up blood
  • Bruising on neck, chest, abdomen or side (between ribs and hip)
  • Wounds that have penetrated the skull, chest or abdomen
  • Abdominal tenderness, possibly accompanied by rigidity or spasm of abdominal muscles
  • Fractures
  • Shock, indicated by weakness, anxiety, thirst or skin that's cool to the touch

To distinguish a minor burn from a serious burn, the first step is to determine the degree and the extent of damage to body tissues. The three classifications of first-degree burn, second-degree burn and third-degree burn will help you determine emergency care:
First-degree burn
The least serious burns are those in which only the outer layer of skin is burned. The skin is usually red, with swelling and pain sometimes present. The outer layer of skin hasn't been burned through. Treat a first-degree burn as a minor burn unless it involves substantial portions of the hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, or a major joint.
Second-degree burn
When the first layer of skin has been burned through and the second layer of skin (dermis) also is burned, the injury is called a second-degree burn. Blisters develop and the skin takes on an intensely reddened, splotchy appearance. Second-degree burns produce severe pain and swelling.
If the second-degree burn is no larger than 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) in diameter, treat it as a minor burn. If the burned area is larger or if the burn is on the hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, or over a major joint, treat it as a major burn and get medical help immediately.
For minor burns, including first-degree burns and second-degree burns limited to an area no larger than 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) in diameter, take the following action:
  • Cool the burn. Hold the burned area under cold running water for at least five minutes, or until the pain subsides. If this is impractical, immerse the burn in cold water or cool it with cold compresses. Cooling the burn reduces swelling by conducting heat away from the skin. Don't put ice on the burn.
  • Cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage. Don't use fluffy cotton, which may irritate the skin. Wrap the gauze loosely to avoid putting pressure on burned skin. Bandaging keeps air off the burned skin, reduces pain and protects blistered skin.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Never give aspirin to children or teenagers.
Minor burns usually heal without further treatment. They may heal with pigment changes, meaning the healed area may be a different color from the surrounding skin. Watch for signs of infection, such as increased pain, redness, fever, swelling or oozing. If infection develops, seek medical help. Avoid re-injuring or tanning if the burns are less than a year old — doing so may cause more extensive pigmentation changes. Use sunscreen on the area for at least a year.

  • Don't use ice. Putting ice directly on a burn can cause frostbite, further damaging your skin.
  • Don't apply butter or ointments to the burn. This could prevent proper healing.
  • Don't break blisters. Broken blisters are vulnerable to infection.
Third-degree burn
The most serious burns are painless, involve all layers of the skin and cause permanent tissue damage. Fat, muscle and even bone may be affected. Areas may be charred black or appear dry and white. Difficulty inhaling and exhaling, carbon monoxide poisoning, or other toxic effects may occur if smoke inhalation accompanies the burn.
For major burns, dial 911 or call for emergency medical assistance. Until an emergency unit arrives, follow these steps:
  1. Don't remove burnt clothing. However, do make sure the victim is no longer in contact with smoldering materials or exposed to smoke or heat.
  2. Don't immerse large severe burns in cold water. Doing so could cause shock.
  3. Check for signs of circulation (breathing, coughing or movement). If there is no breathing or other sign of circulation, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  4. Elevate the burned body part or parts. Raise above heart level, when possible.
  5. Cover the area of the burn. Use a cool, moist, sterile bandage; clean, moist cloth; or moist towels.

Getting Help With Self Harm

For many teens sheer will power is not enough to overcome self harm. If you have been struggling with self harm and are finding you cannot overcome it alone it is very important that you tap into other resources to get help and work through your addiction. Whatever you do, do not give up on it there is help available you just have to seek it out. Remember the longer you let it continue the harder it will be to quit later on so get the help you need sooner then later.

Peer Support:

One of the first steps many teens take on the quest to overcoming self harm is tapping into peer support. This can be in the form of a friend, as well as sites like this one. If you have been struggling with self harming and you have sought help from this site you have already taken the first step to getting help. For some teens the support of peers will be enough others will need the support of peers as well as other forms of support to stop, it all depends on the person. The support of you peers can be quite helpful, but remember that you need to be careful when choosing who to tell you want to make sure they will help you and not upset you further, some friends will be more helpful understanding and then others.

You will want to tell the friend who…
• Is sympathetic, understanding and trustworthy.
• Has many different types of friends in many different “cliques” because they are more likely so accept your problem and not overreact.
• Is always concerned with others problems and helping people out.

If a friend acts distant or upset after you tell them, try to understand that they may be in shock, it’s a lot to digest at first, or they may be simply trying to figure out the best way to help you. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're mad at you or think you're crazy. They are human too and have to think things through at times before they decide how to properly react to the situation, especially in such a serious matter. When getting help from peers you have to remember that they are not professionally trained and therefore may not always know how to help you or know what to say.

When using an internet source to get peer support an upside is that you so not have to decide who to tell and it may be easier to tell people you don’t know in person. However, it is more difficult for kids who don’t know you personally to help you, and communication over the internet cannot match talking to a close friend about the problem in person. You may find that even if they don’t have a lot to offer you in the way of advice just talking to them helps. I recommend you find a close friend and get online support.


Telling your parents is a very important step, it is also very difficult for many teens but it is never as bad as they imagine. Your parents love you and want you to tell them when you are struggling with things in life, especially when they require attention like this. Try not to get upset it they act a little strange for a few days they may need time to digest it, and figure out what to do. Your parents love you very much and just want to help you get better. They should be able to help you better then a close friend because they are with you most of the time and you can go to them when you get urges. Another reason you may want to tell your parents is without them is it’s really difficult to get professional help. Any loving parent will be sure to get you professional help when they learn of your problem and professional help is the most effective form of help.

When considering telling them it’s very important that you do so in the right manner. If you don’t think you can form the words to tell them you may want to write them a note and leave it where they will find it perhaps you could put it out before you go to school so they have time to calm down before they see you again. It might be a good idea to write down what you want to say even if you decide to tell them in person, that way you can read it over a few times so you don’t forget anything you want to say. You may also want to only tell one of your parents, the one that will be more understanding and then let the more understanding parent calmly tell the other about the situation.

You should try to tell your parents when they are in a decent mood and at a time when they can deal with it, not right before they have to go to work or have something important to do. Make sure they know you are telling them because you love them and you know they love you and will help you or get you help. Parents often think they did something wrong to make you this way, even if you didn’t. Make sure you tell them in a gentle way that doesn’t point fingers or place blame on anyone. They may also have questions about it so just calmly answer them to the best of your abilities.

Professional Help:

Professional help is the most neglected form of help; it really shouldn’t be because it is the most effective form of help there is. If you are finding that you cannot overcome self harm you need to seek professional help. Many teens are afraid of getting professional help but it’s really nothing to be afraid of, you may be afraid that you will have to undergo inpatient treatment but that is only for the most severe cases. Most commonly a teen will talk to a therapist about the problem. You may also need to see a doctor about getting medication for depression and to make sure you don’t have a mental illness that needs to be addressed.

It is important that your parents understand that not all therapists are equipped to handle self harm. You will want to make sure to get one who understands it and has a history of treating it. All therapists are different. Finding the right therapist is like finding a good pair of shoes. If you arn't comfortable with them or if they aren't meeting your needs, find a different one. There are different styles of therapy as well as different therapists who specialize in certain types of problems. So when searching for a therapist, you may consider asking about their therapy style and what they specialize in. If you talk to a school counselor they will often help your parents to get you proper treatment.

While therapy sessions will vary depending on your therapist and their style, I want to give you a general idea of what it is like to help reduce your anxiety about getting the treatment you need. It is common that will be asked to fill out a questionaire about yourself at first to help the therapist understand what your needs are and the severity of your case. Some therapists encourage you to do a lot of talking, some like to do a question-answer type of session to help draw you out of your shell and others may like to do all of the talking. This is something to think about after your first session with a therapist to decide if you like them or not. However, it is important that you try a therapist for more then one session before you decide weather you like them or not. Everyone is different so different styles of therapy will be more beneficial to some then others. Generally the main goals of therapy are to identify the problem, what may trigger self harm and educate you on steps you can take to avoid repeating the harmful behavior.


Help Guide-
GO articles-
Zephyr (Steph)- she was a big help particularly in the professional help section.

“Some days even my lucky rocketship underpants won't help.”
-Calvin & Hobbes.

Last edited by 1_21Guns; October 26th, 2010 at 04:02 AM.
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