Can hypnosis help skin conditions?

Apr 15, 2020Anxiety, Common Disorders, Hypnotherapy Information and Advice, Stress

Can hypnosis help skin conditions?

Can hypnosis help skin conditions?

Showing a woman with beautiful skin

If you are suffering with a skin condition such as eczema, psoriasis, or even if you have a wound that you would like to heal faster, hypnosis can help.

Few people realise the value of hypnosis for skin conditions but when these skin complaints cause stress and anxiety, and can have a huge impact on a person’s life. Hypnosis provides another way of helping by using the power of the mind.

Why might some people consider hypnosis for skin conditions?

There are a variety of reasons.

  • People approach hypnotherapists because it’s a new skin problem and they want help to stop it quickly.
  • It’s an old problem that they have had for a long time and it either isn’t getting any better or getting worse.
  • Your doctor suggests hypnotherapy
  • A friend or family member may suggest or recommend hypnosis as they have had help with hypnosis at sometime

How can hypnotherapy help skin conditions?

Hypnosis can be used to help specific issues relating to your skin such as:

  • Reducing scratching
  • Relieving pain
  • Control habits such as picking, or touching the skin
  • Calming down redness
  • Helping the skin to heal

But it can also be used to help you with broader issues that might be related to skin problems. These may include:

  • Increasing your immune system
  • Stress and anxiety relief
  • Boosting your confidence and self-esteem
  • Helping to lift low mood

What should I do if I’m considering hypnosis for a skin condition?

You should see your doctor if you have a new skin condition to get a diagnosis. This is because some skin conditions are a side effect of medication. Other skin conditions need antibiotics or anti-fungal creams. Some skin conditions are caused by a systemic condition like shingles or measles.  There may also be a need to protect others if your skin condition is infectious. Any visual changes to your skin such as any changes to a mole or if a mole becomes itchy. Remember hypnotherapists don’t diagnose or claim to cure although people can get amazing results.

Like all help with hypnosis you need to want to change and be willing to be hypnotised and work with a hypnotherapist.

But if you are feeling sceptical about hypnosis for a skin condition that’s fine as it’s a natural reaction to be cautious until you have the facts. Let’s discuss this further.

How can the mind effect the skin?

We don’t have all the answers however we know that there are links between the mind and the body. It’s known that the nervous system and skin develop alongside each other from the embryonic stage. This can demonstrate that link from simple things that we can all notice. For example, if someone says something to you like a rude joke that you find embarrassing you might blush. Added to this, when women or teenagers get hormonal changes, they can have an increase in spots or acne.

When people with skin conditions become stressed their skin conditions may get worse as the stress hormone cortisol increases. Besides the physical aspects we do know that generally there is a link between how we think, how we feel and how we behave.

In some countries in the world there are specialist doctors called psycho-dermatologists who specialise in helping people with skin conditions. They often use hypnosis, Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT) and relaxation techniques.

What’s the evidence? – Does hypnosis work with helping people with skin conditions?

Yes, hypnosis can help the skin condition and associated negative thoughts and feelings. Sometimes hypnosis is used as an adjunct to other treatments. Furthermore, there are many studies examining hypnosis and skin conditions. Nevertheless, as we delve deeper into understanding hypnosis more studies on skin conditions are needed. Here are a few areas that provide us with some evidence that hypnosis helps.

Warts

As warts need a good blood supply and blood vessels can contract and expand with hypnosis (remember blushing) hypnosis can help you to rid yourself of warts. Hypnosis can also boost immunity to fight the virus that causes warts.

Eczema

Eczema is a very common condition that is made worse with stress and anxiety. Lots of studies have looked at helping children with eczema and hypnosis. It has been shown that hypnosis can help to control the itching and reduce the redness and flaking.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a scaly skin condition that can appear on several parts of the body. People who have this condition may feel that they want to cover their body to hide their skin. It can make people feel negative about themselves. Hypnosis can help with skin issues, low mood, low confidence and low self-esteem.

Disfiguring skin conditions

If you have disfiguring skin conditions you may feel that you are now lacking in confidence and self-esteem. Maybe you have had a trauma. Maybe you worry about going out. Hypnosis can help you to reduce anxiety, deal with the past, look to the future and feel better.

Depression

If you feel anxious about your skin it can lead to depression often because you have let the anxiety and low mood go on for too long. Talking to a counsellor or psychotherapist could help. But hypnosis can also help mild to moderate depression. As with all medical conditions, hypnotists like to work with your doctor when helping with depression.

Urticaria or Hives

Sometimes you get an allergic reaction to something. This can make the skin go read and lumps or wheals may appear. If you know what the cause is the first step is to remove or avoid any triggers. However, if there is swelling around the mouth, nose or throat, especially if you are having difficulty breathing you must contact a doctor or emergency department urgently.

Hypnotherapists help with chronic conditions. So if this problem has happened over a few days or weeks you should make an appointment to see your doctor. Discussion with a healthcare professional is recommended because they will have knowledge of many triggers to allergic responses so they can recommend things to revoke the cause. You may be offered anti-allergic medications or in some cases you maybe offered steroids by your doctor particularly if the problem persists. However, sometimes that cause is a stress related response resulting in hives. It maybe that the cause isn’t found and this makes you more stressed as you struggle to cope with how your skin looks. Hypnosis can help reduce the stress and anxiety.

What do hypnotherapists do to treat skin conditions?

It is important that the hypnotherapist understands what it is about the skin condition that you want to change.  The hypnotherapist needs to know what the symptoms are that are causing you distress, rather than lots of details about the medical diagnosis. For example, it might be the terrible dryness and itching that you want to stop with eczema, or you may want a wound to heal up quicker. You may also want to feel more confident so that you can socialise more. Consider what the benefits are of letting go of this problem. It might be less pain, more friends or something else.

Hypnotherapists work in different ways. All will want to listen and make assessments to find the best way forward for you. Consequently, it’s a partnership where you may be asked to do things between sessions like listen to an audio recording or make notes about how you are feeling between sessions. For example, if this is a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) hypnotherapy approach this may help you become aware of how you are thinking and behaving and to explore anything that makes you skin condition worse. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) maybe used by some hypnotherapists as hypnosis has been shown in some studies to have a better effect when used with CBT. Other hypnotherapists may believe that you need to deal with the cause to help the effect so they use more analytical techniques. The hypnotherapist will explain the treatment plan and their approach before you start treatment.

How might hypnotherapists help?

Hypnotherapists will aim to provide a service that meets your specific needs. This is via online platforms or in the hypnotherapist’s rooms.

The hypnosis treatment plan may incorporate some or all the following:

  • Direct or indirect positive suggestions
  • Imagery
  • Re-framing negative thoughts
  • Anxiety reduction
  • Habit reversal techniques
  • Regression to explore the past and/or progression to help the person look to the positive future
  • Relaxation
  • Self- hypnosis
  • Goal setting

How many sessions will I need with a hypnotherapist?

It depends on the issue however 3-6  sessions is an average number.

How can I find out more?

There are lots of ways to find out more and access the services of a hypnotherapist. Firstly you need to gather information to make the right choices. Do an online search, and if you know of anyone who has seen a hypnotherapist before, ask them if they would recommend their hypnotherapist. Above all, you need to get your questions answered.

During this information gathering exercise you might consider location. Therefore, look for hypnotherapists who are near you as well as hypnotherapists further a field.

If location is not important you may want to look for someone with specialist skills. In this case, online hypnotherapy could be your answer.

The qualifications and experience of the hypnotherapist could be important to you. Check if they help with the problem that you need help with. If skin problem is with a child you might want to fins a hypnotherapist who specialises in helping children.

You might want to know if you trust them or their credibility. Check their qualifications. Have they done a short online course or have they gained an accredited qualification? Are they a member of a professional organisation that makes these checks? What’s the social proof?

Finally, financial aspects of getting help from hypnotherapists might be important to you. Yet it can often be difficult to compare hypnotherapists as many provide packages of care where you get much more, rather than charging by the hour. Consider this as your personal investment as the condition is probably costing you much more than you first realise.

If you want more information about helping skin conditions talk to your doctor or contact a hypnotherapist.

Bibliography

Azrin, N. H., & Nunn, R. G. (1977) Habit Control In a Day. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Hartland, J. (1970) Hypnosis in dermatology. British Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 1: 2-7.

Shenefelt, P. D. (2000) Hypnosis in dermatology. Archives of dermatology, 136: 393-399.

Shih M, Yang YH, Koo M. A meta-analysis of hypnosis in the treatment of depressive symptoms: a brief communication. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2009;57(4):431–442. doi:10.1080/00207140903099039

Awaken the Change is about Focusing Minds for Positive Results

Awaken the Change is a self-help service providing education and information.

Linda sees clients at her practice in Bournemouth, in the UK. She is also happy to provide online help via webcam for hypnotherapy, counselling and supervision. Counselling and supervision can also be provided by telephone.

Linda is an accredited trainer and supervisor.

Linda Witchell
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