If you find that your skin flares up more when you are stressed then learning self hypnosis and regularly using it can help to keep your stress levels down. That should then keep your skin irritation down.
Hypnotherapy can also help to reduce scratching. The benefit is that as well as reducing the unpleasant sensations it also reduces the risk of infections and keeps your skin healthier. There are two approaches. One is to reduce the habit of scratching, the scratching that happens without you really thinking about it. The other is to reduce the itching sensation so that you don't feel the need to scratch.
A single session of hypnotherapy would enable you to learn hypnosis techniques to reduce stress, though you might find a few more sessions helpful to address stress in a more in depth way. You would need at least one other session to deal with the issues related to scratching.
Hypnosis is used in several different ways, medically speaking. One way is called supportive therapy or ego strengthening. This method uses positive reinforcement and confidence building using post-hypnotic suggestions. Another method is called direct suggestion. Direct suggestions give the person control to reduce pain or compulsive acts. The last method often used is called symptom substitution. This therapy helps teach the subconscious mind to replace a bad habit with a good one.
The following are different dermatologic studies and how hypnosis helped the participants:
Acne Excoriee is diagnosed when people pick at their acne often causing scars. This study involved two participants. While under hypnosis, they were given a post-hypnotic suggestion to think of the word "scar" whenever they were tempted to pick at their acne. The hypnosis was successful in helping the patients to stop picking at their acne.
Alopecia Areata is a condition often called "spot baldness" that creates bald areas without hair, usually on the scalp. A study showed that there was a correlation between people with alopecia areata and also having high stress in their lives. Five participants took part in a study using hypnosis to aide in controlling their stress. The results showed that one patient had a significant amount of hair growth and three had a slight increase in hair growth.
Atopic Dermatitis is chronic inflammation of the skin. In the study, researchers used hypnosis to promote relaxation, control stress, techniques to stop scratching, soothe skin, ego strengthening, post-hypnotic suggestions, and self-hypnosis. The study showed a great improvement in scratching, sleep, and stress on those studied and the amount of corticosteroid use went down by 60% 16 weeks after the study.
Furuncles are infections of a hair follicle also known as a boil. This study consisted of a 33 year old man who had been suffering from furuncles for 16 years. He had an unusually resistant case. Hypnosis was introduced and he saw great improvements in five weeks. He was also taught self-hypnosis which helped his mental well-being. The study pointed out that "conventional antibiotic therapy is the first line of treatment for furuncles, but in unusually resistant cases with significant psychosomatic overlay, complementary use of hypnosis may help end the long-term susceptibility to recurrent infection."
Psoriasis is a disease that produces red, scaly areas on the skin. Hypnosis has been shown to greatly improve psoriasis. A major contributor to psoriasis is stress. Many studies have been performed using hypnosis and in 75% of the cases, psoriasis was remarkably improved using a sensory-imagery technique.
There are many more studies that have been performed showing the benefits of hypnosis on dermatological problems. In many of these studies, it was concluded that hypnosis was useful in conjunction with another form of treatment or therapy. In some studies, hypnosis was found to be an alternative to other treatments.
In dermatology, hypnosis may help decrease pain and pruritus in the skin; intervene in psychosomatic aspects of skin diseases; and lead to the resolution of some skin diseases, including verruca vulgaris. Suggestion without formal trance induction may be effective in some cases. Sulzberger and Wolf reported on the use of suggestion to treat verrucae.
Precisely defining hypnosis has proven to be challenging. Marmer described hypnosis as a psychophysiological tetrad of altered consciousness consisting of narrowed awareness, restricted and focused attentiveness, selective wakefulness, and heightened suggestibility. For a more detailed discussion of the definitions of hypnosis, see the texts by Crasilneck and Hall or Barabasz and Watkins. Many myths exist about hypnosis that overrate, underrate, or distort the true capabilities of hypnosis.
Hypnosis can regulate blood flow and other autonomic functions that are not usually under conscious control. The relaxation response that occurs with hypnosis also affects the neurohormonal systems that regulate many body functions. Studies on the influence of hypnosis on immediate immune responses have shown the ability of hypnotized volunteers to significantly decrease the flare reaction to the histamine prick test. Similarly, in one study, the effect of hypnotic suggestion on delayed cellular immune responses has shown significant effect on the size of erythema and on palpable induration but no significant effect in other studies.
A report by Braun on different allergic responses; dermatologic reactions; and effects on seizure disorders, pain control, and healing in the same individual with multiple personality disorder (now called dissociative identity disorder) shows how much influence the mind can have on physiologic reactions and disease processes, depending on the personality present. The report also described the differences in physiologic responses and disease conditions for selected individuals under hypnosis compared with their normal waking state.
Hypnosis may be used to increase healthy behaviors, to decrease situational stress, to reduce needle phobias, to control harmful habits (eg, scratching), to provide immediate and long-term analgesia, to ameliorate symptoms related to diseases (eg, pruritus), to accelerate recovery from surgery, and to enhance the mind-body connection to promote healing.
Hypnosis can be especially helpful in dealing with skin diseases that have a psychosomatic aspect. Griesemer, who was trained both in dermatology and in psychiatry, recorded the incidence of emotional triggering of dermatoses in his patients during 1 year in his practice. He developed an index for various skin diseases, with 100 indicating an absolute psychosomatic component and zero indicating no psychosomatic component to the skin disease.
Good references on the responsiveness of skin diseases to hypnosis are found in the somewhat outdated book by Scott and in the chapter on the use of hypnosis in dermatologic problems in the text by Crasilneck and Hall. Koblenzer also mentions some of the uses of hypnosis in common dermatologic problems. In an excellent resource book for patients, Grossbart and Sherman discuss mind-body interactions in skin diseases and include hypnosis as recommended therapy for a number of skin conditions.
The list of dermatologic conditions below is not all-inclusive, but it does include most of the dermatologic conditions for which hypnosis is reasonably helpful in reducing symptoms or in improving aspects of the condition. They are arranged on the basis of the strength of scientific evidence for the effectiveness of hypnosis, starting with the strongest evidence.Those dermatologic conditions supported by only one or a few case reports are listed in alphabetical order toward the end of this section, starting with acne excoriée.
Randomized controlled trialsVerruca vulgaris
The early report by Sulzberger on the efficacy of suggestion in treating warts has since been confirmed numerous times. Numerous reports attest to the efficacy of hypnosis in treating warts. In a well-conducted randomized controlled study by Spanos et al that serves as a typical example, 53% of the experimental group had improvement of their warts 3 months after the first of 5 hypnotherapy sessions, while none of the control group had improvement. Hypnosis can be successful as a therapy for warts.
Stress is often a factor in the onset, exacerbation, and prolongation of psoriasis. Hypnosis and suggestion have been shown to have a positive effect on psoriasis. In a typical case report, 75% clearing of psoriasis was reported by using a hypnotic sensory-imagery technique. A case of extensive, severe psoriasis of 20 years' duration showed marked improvement by using sensory imagery to replicate the sensations in the patient's skin that he had experienced during sunbathing. Another case of severe psoriasis of 20 years' duration fully resolved with a hypnoanalytic technique.
Tausk and Whitmore performed a small randomized double-blind controlled trial by using hypnosis as adjunctive therapy in psoriasis, with significant improvement in individuals who were highly susceptible to hypnosis. Hypnosis can be useful as an adjunct therapy for resistant psoriasis, especially if an emotional factor is significant in the triggering of the psoriasis.
Venipuncture in children
Liossi et al conducted a prospective, randomized, controlled trial to compare the efficacy of a local anesthetic (EMLA), EMLA plus hypnosis, or EMLA plus attention in children receiving venipuncture. Children in the EMLA-plus-hypnosis group reported less anticipatory anxiety and less procedure-related pain and anxiety; they were rated as demonstrating less behavioral distress during the procedure than patients in the other 2 groups. Additionally, parents whose children were randomized to the EMLA-plus-hypnosis group experienced less anxiety during their child's procedure than parents whose children had been randomized to the other 2 groups.
Nonrandomized controlled trialsAtopic dermatitis
Stewart and Thomas treated 18 adults with extensive atopic dermatitis whose conditions had been resistant to conventional treatment with hypnotherapy. In a nonrandomized controlled study, they used relaxation, stress management, direct suggestion for nonscratching behavior and for skin comfort and coolness, ego strengthening, posthypnotic suggestions, and instruction in self-hypnosis. The results were statistically significant for reduction in itching, scratching, sleep disturbance, and tension. The use of topical corticosteroids decreased from the original amount by 40% at 4 weeks, 50% at 8 weeks, and 60% at 16 weeks. For milder cases of atopic dermatitis, hypnosis, along with moisturizing, can be sufficient as a primary treatment. For more extensive or resistant atopic dermatitis, hypnosis can reduce the required amount of other conventional treatments.
Case seriesAlopecia areata
Gupta et al found a strong correlation between high stress reactivity and depression in patients with alopecia areata. Willemson et al used hypnotherapy for 21 patients, 9 with alopecia universalis and 12 with extensive alopecia areata. After hypnotherapy, all patients had significantly lower anxiety and depression. Complete scalp hair regrowth occurred in 9 patients, including 4 with alopecia universalis and 2 with ophiasis. Over 75% scalp hair regrowth occurred in another 3 patients. Five patients had a significant relapse of alopecia. Hypnosis is appropriate as a stress reducer and sometimes is successful as a primary treatment method for alopecia areata.
Two cases of urticaria responding to hypnotic suggestion were reported in a study. The study included an 11-year-old boy whose urticarial reaction to chocolate could be blocked by hypnotic suggestion so that hives appeared on only one side of his face in response to that hypnotic suggestion. A case series study of hypnosis with relaxation therapy on 15 patients with chronic urticaria for an average duration of 7.8 years showed that within 14 months, 6 patients' conditions had cleared and 8 had improved, with decreased medication requirements reported by 80% of patients. One patient's condition did not improve. Hypnosis may be useful as a therapy for chronic urticaria.
"Conclusion. As can be seen from the above example, the final common pathway, physiologic expression, which is seen in multiple peronality is not bizarre when compared with physiologic changes achieved in non-multiples using hypnosis or, in certain cases, non-multiples without the use of hypnosis. A form of hypnosis/autohypnosis* may be a common denominator. The neurophysiologic changes shown by Putnam et. al. (1982), but not observed by Coons (1982), may well have a similar explanation. The question of the neurophysiologic effect of hypnotic suggestion has not as yet been studied with appropriate controls or safeguards.
The cutaneous pain threshold was measured before, during, and after 10 sessions of hypnosis in 14 healthy and 13 atopic eczema patients. A control group of 10 healthy subjects who were not hypnotized was also evaluated. Cutaneous pain threshold increase was correlated with improvement of eczema and was correlated with hypnotizability.
A medical student who was interested in psychiatry and specifically in the question of whether one could in hypnosis remember something from earlier life that had been forgotten participated in an experiment. In hypnosis he was given instructions that amounted to permissive suggestions that he would be able to complete that task. Following about 30 minutes of silence he reported feeling fear, appeared as if he would vomit, went through a series of extreme negative emotions (reporting that he still did not have the significant memory), and requested that he be awakened. After resting 10 minutes he spontaneously returned to the somnambulistic level and then again went through extreme emotions, reporting that he had the memory but feared forgetting it again when he awoke. The author indicated that after awakening he would know whether or not he wanted to recall the memory. In the waking state, with support and indirect suggestions, the student gradually recalled a traumatic memory of childhood aggression and its consequences. Following that disclosure, some ideosyncratic problems in medical school (e.g. difficulty with dermatology) more or less disappeared.