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Hypnosis- psycho-therapeutic options for skin disorders

Shenefelt, P.D (2006), Nondrug Psychotherapeutic Options for Skin Disorders Trends in Psychotherapy Research. Abelian, M. E. (Ed).  2006, pp. 33-51

(From the chapter) The skin and the nervous system develop side by side in the ectoderm of the fetus and remain intimately interconnected throughout life. Cutaneous innervation represents the largest sense organ of the body and is also vital to skin protection and health. There is a significant psychosomatic or behavioral component to many skin disorders. This interaction permits non-drug psychotherapeutic interventions that have positive impacts on many cutaneous diseases. Cognitive-behavioral techniques that address dysfunctional cognitions (thought patterns) or behaviors (actions) can be useful for skin disorders with a significant psychosomatic or behavioral 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-behavioral methods can also desensitize individuals with needle phobia. Biofeedback has some limited usefulness in a few selected skin disorders. Galvanic skin resistance (GSR) feedback can be utilized for teaching control of hyperhidrosis. Skin temperature feedback allows individuals to learn how to warm the fingers for Raynaud's syndrome and scleroderma. Neurofeedback of electroencephalographic (EEG) spectral frequency is in its infancy but may prove useful for certain habit disorders that affect the skin, hair, or nails by picking, scratching, or other manipulation.

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 signaling and the affect bridge technique can often identify original incidents and promote healing. Subtle energy intuitive techniques are an almost lost art that have so far been relatively difficult to explore on a scientific basis. They are still utilized by various indigenous practitioners and shamans, and are sometimes capable of clearing or improving otherwise refractory skin disorders. A psychiatrist has described their modern use. This area has potential for significant future development.




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