Hypnosis and the Mind-Skin Connection

In this remarkable article published by the Harvard Medical School, the way in which our skin often reflects our emotional state is explored.

Blushing is shown as an example of how this connection between our emotions and our skin exists.

This link has proven to be so strong that it has led to a new field of medicine, Psychodermatology, where both a physiological and a psychological approach is taken to addressing skin problems, often simultaneously: “Many skin problems clear up or improve with standard therapies, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and topical medications. The aim of psychodermatology is not to substitute psychotherapy for medicine, but rather to recognize that emotional issues may also be involved, especially when a skin condition resists conventional treatment. It’s important to evaluate and treat a skin problem medically before looking into its psychological aspects. But sometimes, a drug or other medical approach that doesn’t work on its own becomes more effective when combined with psychological strategies.”

The article also describes three psychotherapeutic techniques that have proven to be particularly useful in this field, beginning with Hypnosis, “The hypnotic state, involving focused concentration or awareness, can affect many physiological functions, including blood flow, pain sensation, and immune response. A trained hypnotist is not necessarily required; many people can successfully practice self-hypnosis through relaxation, meditation, or focused breathing techniques (see below). In this state, the mind has a heightened capacity to affect autonomic functions (those we have little conscious control over, such as heart rate). A therapist using the technique called guided imagery may ask the patient to imagine having healthy skin or picture immune cells on the march. In small studies, hypnosis has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety; reduce pain and inflammation; control sweating and itching; speed healing; and limit behaviors such as scratching, picking, or hair pullingBelgian researchers reported in the August 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology that 67% of patients with significant hair loss (alopecia) who underwent hypnosis (including self-hypnosis) had total or partial hair regrowth during treatment, although some of them lost the hair again during the four-year follow-up period. In some studies, hypnotherapy, especially combined with behavioral and relaxation techniques, has helped reduce itching and scratching in people with atopic dermatitisHypnosis has been studied extensively for treating warts. In one controlled trial, which compared hypnosis to no treatment at all, 53% of the hypnotized patients — but none of the unhypnotized patients — lost at least some of their warts. Another trial compared hypnotic suggestion (of the warts healing and shrinking) to salicylic acid (the standard treatment for warts), placebo salicylic acid, and no treatment. The hypnotized participants lost significantly more warts than subjects in the other three groups.”

If you have a lingering or difficult to deal with skin condition, this article is well worth a read, and may help you to find a permanent solution. You can find it here.

 

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