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Skin disorders

Many skin disorders have a psychosomatic component and this lends itself very nicely to hypnotherapy treatment. People may be surprised that hypnotherapy can treat skin diseases but there's a lot of positive research in this area now. Creating peace and changing negative mindsets that aggravate the condition as well as releasing any kind of shame, embarrassment or the feeling of being 'uncomfortable in one's skin' can improve life immensely. 

From the research below...

 

"This study has shown highly significant results in reducing skin sensitivity to histamine using a cognitive-hypnotic technique, which indicates some promise for extending this work into the clinical area". (Laidlaw)

"Twenty children with severe, resistant atopic dermatitis were treated by hypnosis. All but one showed immediate improvement, which was maintained at the following two clinic appointments. In 12 children, replies to a questionnaire at up to 18 months after treatment, showed that 10 had maintained improvement in itching and scratching, nine in sleep disturbance, and seven maintained improvement in mood". (Stewart)

 

Shenefelt, Philip D. (Oct 2007). Psycho-cutaneous Hypnoanalysis: 
Detection and Deactivation of Emotional and Mental Root Factors 
in Psychosomatic Skin Disorders. American Journal of Clinical 
Hypnosis, Vol 50(2), 131-136. 

Many skin disorders have a significant psychosomatic component. Focused history-taking

coupled with hypnoanalysis using ideomotor finger signals to detect positive 
responses to one or more of 7 common triggering or exacerbating factors permits 
systematic diagnosis of the presence or absence of a significant psychosomatic 
component. If no factor is positive, a psychosomatic component to the skin disorder 
can likely be excluded. If one or two of the 7 factors are positive and it is possible 
to identify the initiating event, treatment by reframing with suggestions in hypnosis 
may succeed in defusing the associated negative emotional impact associated with 
the psychosomatic component of the skin disorder. This may be sufficient to uproot 
and weed out the problem. However, if a multiple of the 7 factors are positive as in 
the included case report, referral to an appropriate psychotherapist is recommended.

 
Shenefelt, Philip D. (2006). Nondrug Psychotherapeutic Options for 
Skin Disorders. In Abelian, M. E. (Ed), Trends in Psychotherapy 
Research, (pp. 33-51). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers. 

There is a significant psychosomatic or behavioural component to many skin 
disorders. This interaction permits nondrug psychotherapeutic interventions that 
have positive impacts on many cutaneous diseases. Cognitive-behavioural techniques 
that address dysfunctional cognitions (thought patterns) or behaviours (actions) can 
be useful for skin disorders with a significant psychosomatic or behavioural 
component, such as the picking component of acne excoriee, scratching in atopic 
dermatitis, habits such as lip licking or biting, hyperhidrosis, lichen simplex 
chronicus, neurotic excoriations, onychotillomania, trichotillomania, and 
psychosomatic triggering or exacerbation of urticaria. Cognitive-behavioural 
methods can also desensitize individuals with needle phobia. Hypnosis has been 
found useful to treat a number of skin disorders including acne excoriee, alopecia 
areata, atopic dermatitis, congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma, dyshidrotic 
dermatitis, erythromelalgia, furuncles, glossodynia, herpes simplex, hyperhidrosis, 
ichthyosis vulgaris, lichen planus, neurodermatitis, nummular dermatitis, 
postherpetic neuralgia, pruritus, psoriasis, rosacea, trichotillomania, urticaria, 
verruca vulgaris, and vitiligo. Hypnosis can also help individuals feel more 
comfortable about having their skin diseases. Hypnotic relaxation utilizing self-guided

imagery reduces anxiety and discomfort during dermatologic procedures. 
For resistant skin disorders, hypnoanalysis using ideomotor signalling and the affect 
bridge technique can often identify original incidents and promote healing. 


Hollingworth, Anne. (Nov 2001). I’ve Got You Under My Skin: 
Hypnosis for Dermatitis and Unrequited Love. Australian Journal of 
Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis, Vol 29(2), 131-146. 

This study details the use of hypnosis in relieving symptoms of dermatitis in a 
female in her early thirties. Ongoing therapy then focused on feelings of discontent 
and joylessness, resulting from unrequited love. It is concluded that the client’s rash 
was more readily amenable to psychotherapy than were the underlying existential 
dilemmas. 


Laidlaw, T. M., Booth, R. J., Large, R. G. (1996). Reduction in Skin 
Reactions to Histamine After a Hypnotic Procedure. Psychosomatic 
Medicine, Vol. 58, 242-8. 

This study sought to test whether a cognitive-hypnotic intervention could be used to 
decrease skin reactivity to histamine. Thirty eight subjects undertook three 
individual laboratory sessions; a pre-test session to determine sensitivity to 
histamine, a control session, and an intervention session during which the subject 
experienced a cognitive-hypnotic procedure involving imagination and 
visualization. Compared with the control session, most subjects (32 of 38) 
decreased the size of their weals measured during the intervention session, and the 
differences between the weal sizes produced in the two sessions were highly 
significant (N = 38; t = 4.90; p < .0001). Mood and physiological variables but not 
hypnotisability scores proved to be effective in explaining the skin test variance and 
in predicting weal size change. Feelings of irritability and tension and higher blood 
pressure readings were associated with less change in weal size (i.e., a continuation 
of reactivity similar to that found in the control session without the cognitive-hypnotic

intervention), and peacefulness and a lower blood pressure were 
associated with less skin reactivity during the intervention. This study has shown 
highly significant results in reducing skin sensitivity to histamine using a cognitive-hypnotic

technique, which indicates some promise for extending this work into the clinical area. 


Zachariae, R., Oster, H., Bjerring, P., Kragballe, K. (1996). Effects of 
Psychologic Intervention on Psoriasis: A Preliminary Report. 
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Vol. 34, 1008-15. 

BACKGROUND: Case reports have indicated that psychologic treatments may 
have a beneficial effect on psoriasis activity. METHODS: Fifty-one patients with 
psoriasis vulgaris were randomly assigned to a treatment or a control group. 
Patients in the treatment group participated in seven individual psychotherapy 
sessions in 12 weeks. Intervention techniques included stress management, guided 
imagery, and relaxation. RESULTS: Slight, but significant, changes in Total Sign 
Score and Laser Doppler Skin Blood Flow were found in the treatment group but 
not in the control group. When analyses were performed for both groups separately, 
the treatment group displayed significant reductions for all three psoriasis activity 
measures, whereas no changes were seen in the control group. CONCLUSION: Our 
preliminary results suggest that psychologic intervention may have a moderate 
beneficial effect on psoriasis activity. 


Stewart, A. C., Thomas, S. E. (1995). Hypnotherapy as a Treatment 
for Atopic Dermatitis in Adults and Children. British Journal of 
Dermatology, Vol. 132, 778-83. 

Eighteen adults with extensive atopic dermatitis, resistant to conventional treatment, 
were treated by hypnotherapy, with statistically significant benefit (P < 0.01) 
measured both subjectively and objectively, which was maintained at up to 2 years 
where results were available. Twenty children with severe, resistant atopic 
dermatitis were treated by hypnosis. All but one showed immediate improvement, 
which was maintained at the following two clinic appointments. In 12 children, 
replies to a questionnaire at up to 18 months after treatment, showed that 10 had 
maintained improvement in itching and scratching, nine in sleep disturbance, and 
seven maintained improvement in itching and scratching, nine in sleep disturbance, 
and seven maintained improvement in mood. 


Hajek, P., Jakoubek, B., Radil, T. (1990). Gradual Increase in 
Cutaneous Threshold Induced by Repeated Hypnosis of Healthy 
Individuals and Patients with Atopic Eczema. Perceptual and Motor 
Skills, Vol. 70, 549-50. 

Gradual increase in cutaneous pain threshold was found in healthy subjects and 
patients with atopic eczema during repeated hypnotic sessions with specific 
suggestions. This increase was less in the former than in the latter group. Repeated 
threshold measurements did not influence the threshold. The analgesic effect 
outlasted the hypnotic sessions by several months. It could be, however, suddenly 
reduced by appropriate hypnotic suggestion. 
Kantor, S. D. (1990). Stress and Psoriasis. Cutis, Vol. 46, 321-2. 
Since most clinicians and researchers agree that stress affects the course of 
psoriasis, consideration should be given to advocating adjunctive therapies aimed at 
reducing psychophysiological stress. Biofeedback training, psychotherapy, and 
hypnosis are examples of adjuncts to traditional medical treatment that can reduce 
stress levels and have been shown to have a positive effect on the course of 
psoriasis. 


 

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