Itching to stop
Eczema, physical conditions and hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy is increasingly sought to help in the treatment of physical conditions, as it can help with the stress, anxiety and other psychological effects triggering or exacerbating the symptoms. Hypnotherapy can be used to complement medical treatments in a holistic way, in order to incorporate the emotional and behavioural parts of the whole person. How a person deals with physical symptoms is not just affected by psychology, but also by gender, culture, hormones and environment and other factors. This reinforces how important it is for therapists to listen to the client beyond their physical symptoms in order to help them, which is an important part of hypnotherapy.
Physical conditions and symptoms have been linked to a person’s psyche, emotions and behaviours for some time. Psychological conditions can have physical manifestations, and physical conditions can have psychological origins or triggers. This can be particularly relevant to physical symptoms of chronic conditions, such as eczema. It may be possible to medically treat symptoms like inflammation, using topical steroid creams for example, but this does not eliminate the cause or the psychological impact of the itch-scratch cycle for the sufferer.
Hypnotherapy can help clients to alter their mindset about their condition by changing/eliminating the unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that can aggravate or trigger the condition or symptoms of the condition.
As a sufferer of eczema, I have had first-hand experience of how this condition can affect aspects of your life beyond the ‘itchy rash’ that many may perceive it to be.
Definition of eczema:
‘…an inflammatory condition of the skin characterized by redness, itching, and oozing vesicular lesions (like blisters), which become scaly, crusted, or hardened’. (Merriam-Webster dictionary.)
From a medical point of view, evidence shows that the immune system can be activated when there is an internal or external irritant or allergen, causing inflammation which triggers the most common symptoms of eczema. These symptoms can be dry/sensitive skin, rash, itchiness, inflamed skin and can advance to swollen, infected, oozing crusty and cracked skin. Depending on the individual, the type and location of the eczema, these symptoms can lead to pain, low self-esteem/confidence, depression and problems sleeping to name a few.
Hypnotherapy can help eczema sufferers in different ways. For example, it may help to reduce stress, which has been regularly proven to provoke or worsen the eczema symptoms This is because stress can negatively affect the immune system, making the condition more likely to re-occur or flare-up in sufferers. Stress can also intensify the itch-scratch cycle, as the scratching can become a subconscious stress/anxiety release habit – often because the flight/fight/freeze response is triggered.
As mentioned in the Blog – ‘The Origins of Stress and Anxiety’, some stress is actually useful, as it helps us to complete tasks and fulfil necessary jobs and activities. It is only when stress becomes excessive and sustained, that it can have a negative impact on our lives. Personally, I’ve always been a ‘last-minute person’, as my mind is more focussed and efficient when I have a deadline looming than when I have lots of time. Therefore, I have had an increased incidence of eczema flare-ups when under a lot of pressure. Hypnotherapy has enabled me to manage this stress through a change of mindset and behaviour, which has led to a reduction in the intensity of my eczema symptoms.
It must be noted that Hypnotherapy is a complementary therapy – it works well alongside traditional medical interventions, particularly for physical conditions. Therefore, if you wish to use hypnotherapy for a chronic condition, it is important to contact your G.P., consultant or other medical professional to ensure that your condition will benefit from a holistic approach. More and more, the medical profession and individuals are recommending hypnotherapy as a safe addition to help manage aspects of physical conditions.
(updated May 2023)