Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Can Hypnotherapy help your Psoriasis?

Hypnosis (Photo credit: alvaro tapia hidalgo)

Psoriasis and Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy can help clients learn how to feel relaxed and at ease while improving the feel and look of their skin.  The Positive emotions can lead to healthier skin.

Clients with Psoriasis have benefited dramatically from Clinical Hypnotherapy.  The skin is the largest organ of the human body and it is very influenced by the emotions.  By working on relaxation as well as off loading old outdated patterns of behaviour, the whole Mind/Body System undergoes a shift of consciousness at the deepest level.  To put it simply the skin starts to heal and repair itself.  In the case of Psoriasis new cell growth can be slowed with Clinical Hypnotherapy and the outer skin can be given suggestion to be calm, cool and normal in feel and colour.  

Post Hypnotic cues can be given so that in the future the emotional significance of the skin condition changes to a much more positive outlook.  It is also possible to use regression to take clients back to a time when the skin was healthy and free from the limitations of the skin condition and to then update the subconscious as well as future pacing, to return the healthy pattern of skin generation to the affected site or sites.  

Psoriasis is a non contagious skin condition. Its most common form, plaque psoriasis, appears as raised, red patches or lesions covered with a silvery white build up of dead skin cells, called scale. In 10 to 30% of sufferers the psoriasis can also present as psoriatic arthritis, which causes pain, stiffness and swelling in and around the joints.
The skin is the external barrier to our body. In order to maintain its protective function it is continually growing, as the older cells reach the surface they die and are sloughed off. When psoriasis occurs in the skin the cycle of cell growth is reduced from about a month to 3 to 4 days. The increased activity produces the characteristic redness with a white flaky build up of dead skin cells. It is believed that it is the immune system that is causing the effect by sending faulty signals.
The severity of the disorder varies from person to person. Some people experience psoriasis in a small area and some people have it all over their body.

Psoriasis can also affect a person’s joints. This inflammation can lead to psoriatic arthritis. Approximately 10-15% of people with chronic psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms of this form of psoriasis include pain, stiffness, and inflammation of the joints. The symptoms can be pretty severe in some cases and can be disabling.

Treating psoriasis can be a challenge because the exact cause is not known. Many doctors believe that the disorder is genetic in nature. Doctors have found that certain factors can irritate psoriasis including stress, drinking alcohol, and smoking.

Quality of life

Psoriasis can have a negative impact on the quality of life. The disorder often causes severe itching, which can lead to pain. These side effects can interfere with different areas of life. Many people with psoriasis lack self-esteem and often become depressed because of their disorder.  Psoriasis and Eczema are often accompanied with feelings of low self-worth and therefore a lack of confidence. A large part of the treatment is to allow the client to re-evaluate their beliefs that maintain these feelings. Clients with Psoriasis and Eczema often feel “depressed” about the way they look or the rituals they have to go through every day.

Psoriasis Skin Disease
Psoriasis Skin Disease (Photo credit: pursuethepassion)
Severe cases of psoriasis have been shown to affect health-related quality of life to an extent similar to the effects of other chronic diseases, such as depression, hypertension, congestive heart failure or type 2 diabetes.  Depending on the severity and location of outbreaks, individuals may experience significant physical discomfort and some disability. Itching and pain can interfere with basic functions, such as self-care, walking, and sleep. Plaques on hands and feet can prevent individuals from working at certain occupations, playing some sports, and caring for family members or a home. Plaques on the scalp can be particularly embarrassing, as flaky plaque in the hair can be mistaken for dandruff. Medical care can be costly and time-consuming, and can interfere with an employment or school schedule.
Individuals with psoriasis may also feel self-conscious about their appearance and have a poor self-image that stems from fear of public rejection and psychosexual concerns. Psychological distress can lead to significant depression and social isolation.

In a 2008 National Psoriasis Foundation survey of 426 psoriasis sufferers, 71 percent reported the disease was a significant problem in everyday life. More than half reported significant feelings of self-consciousness (63 percent) and embarrassment (58 percent). More than one-third said they avoided social activities and limited dating or intimate interactions.

Many doctors put emphasis on controlling the symptoms of psoriasis because there is no known cure. Ointments, phototherapy, and prescription drugs are often prescribed, but many sufferers look to alternative therapy to help relieve their symptoms.

Psoriasis of the palms.
Psoriasis of the palms. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hypnotherapy and Psoriasis

A study appeared in a 1999 issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics testing the effectiveness of hypnosis on patients with psoriasis. The study was performed by researchers in the department of dermatology at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The study involved 11 patients with chronic psoriasis. All 11 participants received a form of hypnosis and all of them were either highly or moderately hypnotisable. Five patients received hypnosis with positive suggestions focusing on the improvement of their psoriasis. The remaining 6 patients received neutral hypnosis without suggestions specifically aimed at treating their psoriasis. Using these methods, all patients received hypnosis for three months.

After the initial three months, all patients were studied for an additional three months and all eleven participants received active suggestions targeting their psoriasis during their hypnosis sessions.

The researchers found that the highly hypnotisable subjects reported a much greater improvement than those who were moderately hypnotisable. They realized that it did not matter whether the form of hypnosis used active suggestions or neutral suggestions.

The researchers concluded that hypnosis should be a form a treatment in those who are highly suggestible and suffer from psoriasis. More research should be performed investigating the role hypnosis plays on treating psoriasis sufferers` symptoms.

Icon Psoriasis
Icon Psoriasis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The symptoms of most skin disorders are usually not constant, which suggests the patient has the ability to switch off symptoms. Distraction tactics such as doing something that makes you happy can cause a symptom to disappear. But thinking thoughts of a fearful nature may cause the symptom to reappear. The unconscious controls this on and off switch mechanism, and it can become habitual over time. Such learned behaviour can be unlearned using hypnosis. By changing the subconscious attitude towards particular objects, actions or situations in trance, a person can also change their reactions, reflexes, and responses to them in reality.

A reaction such as a rash may compound a person’s inability to seek help. This is often due to their problem being visible to the onlooker, making it harder to get support from family, friends, GPs, or therapists. From time to time people can literally get under the skin of the client. This is why they need to mentally protect themselves when in the presence of people who likely to cause stress. The rash may be a way for their subconscious to move away from a stressful person or situation.

The Effects of Stress on Skin 

Stress increases the vulnerability of the nervous system and this has a direct effect on the skin. The more stressed, the more the nervous system reacts in response to stress by creating a reaction. Using hypnosis as a means to relieve stress can significantly reduce negative reactions. It’s also another vital part of regaining control of autonomic functions such as breathing and heart rate. By reducing stress, the patient reduces symptoms. And by regaining control over their autonomic system they regain control of their physiological functions.

Using Imagery to Heal the Skin 

Some skin conditions respond very well to being exposed to ultra violet light. Hypnosis allows the patient to perceive imagery that has a similar effect to UV light. By imagining the sun is safely shining down, mental exposure to its healing rays can have a positive healing effect upon the skin. Similarly visualizing getting into a warm bath of healing water, feeling the water touching toes first, then feet and legs, the way a person would normally step into a bath. A spiritual person may imagine God intervening and blessing the water, making it pure and giving it the ability to heal skin.

The idea is to render up images of their skin in perfect condition as much as possible. By doing this, they are re-programming the subconscious mind to fulfil what it understands is desired. Clients imagine they are looking in a mirror & notice how their skin is beginning to clear up, focussing attention on the desired result and thinking no more about the feared reaction. “Everyday in every way my skin is getting better and better.” This type of suggestion spurs the imagination and can be also be used by the client to reinforce the message.
If the skin condition started at a certain age, a useful technique is to regress the client back in time to see their skin as it was before the condition started. By associating in the present how their skin felt back then, the subconscious can revert back to a once used program, thus making the physiological responses the same again.

Psoriasis and eczema can be irritating and extremely painful at times. In milder cases of eczema the skin becomes dry, flaky, hot, and itchy. In more severe cases it can get broken, raw, and bleed. The causes of eczema are difficult to identify; but as always, psychological forces are more than likely attributing to the maintenance and agitation of the symptom, thus making it difficult to overcome through purely medicinal means. A traumatic experience may trigger the beginning of a skin disorder such as eczema. A shock to the system can cause the body to manifest the disease, as eczema is often an outward expression of an internal crisis.

Outbreaks of psoriasis and eczema will happen through times of increased stress. Financial difficulty, dry humid conditions, pollen, dust-mites, certain foods, drinks, and preservatives, contact with yeast, tobacco, detergent, and even blood circulation can bring it on. As with allergies, the immune system sees the stimulus as a threat and produces an unnecessary response in the skin such as shedding or flaking. Hypnosis can alter this response by using a protective shield or imaginary pane of glass to gradually expose the client to the stimuli that aggravates the skin. By using such techniques, over time the immune system eventually stops overreacting.

Using Glove Anaesthesia to Stop Itching and Scratching 

Glove anaesthesia is a good technique for altering the perception to sensitivity. It involves numbing a clients hand through use of imagery, in order to gain relief from itchy areas that tend to be scratched more than others. It can take a few attempts to get right, but is worth persevering with as it can be used to help a range of problems.

As long as a client can achieve a medium state of hypnotism they should experience some positive results with this method though the client must be assessed fully to ensure the appropriate approach is adopted. It is possible with some clients to instil a post-hypnotic trigger using the glove anaesthesia method by suggesting the client will experience glove analgesia when they think or say an appropriate phrase like “I feel my hand getting numb”.  The hand is then placed on the area of discomfort thus transferring the numbness to the area. Methods to achieve this include: imagining a nerve block injection, imagining a bowl of ice or the application of a safe numbing substance.

Tausk, F. & Whitmore, S.E. (1999). A Pilot Study of Hypnosis in the Treatment of Patients with Psoriasis. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 68(4): 221-5.

Sampogna F, Chren MM, Melchi CF, Pasquini P, Tabolli S, Abeni D (February 2006)."Age, gender, quality of life and psychological distress in patients hospitalized with psoriasis

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