Hypnotherapy can be very effective for several skin conditions. Sometimes a client will come to my London clinic for some other concerns, such as anxiety or stress. Then, during sessions, they notice that hypnotherapy has helped their skin as well. Sometimes clients will book sessions specifically to address skin conditions.
We often forget how important our skin is. It is a key multilayered organ where we take in and expel substances, waste or toxins. The outer skin tissues and other layers such as the nervous tissue and pigmentation cells all stem from the same germ layer from when we were a young developing foetus. There certainly seems to be a real link between our psychological or emotional concerns (or nervous system) and some dermatological manifestations. What’s on the inside in our ‘emotional body’, can get expressed on the outside layer of our physical body.
Hypnotherapy for skin conditions and Stress
When we feel stress our nervous system goes into action. There may be a ‘fight or flight’ response in response to external events. The body becomes more alert and that will sometimes, in time, have an effect on the skin. Even a low level stress may see blood diverted away from the skin and into our muscles. Therefore our skin’s wellbeing is affected by our mood, life events or outlook.
You will be familiar of the premature aging skin experiences from substances such smoking, poor diet or too much alcohol. Premature aging can occur under stress too since the skin loses elasticity and there can be a higher chance of viral, fungal and bacterial infections.
Conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis are often turbo charged by increasing stress levels. A flare-up may have familiar symptoms such as dry, itchy, thickened or inflamed skin. Worry about these symptoms can itself raise the stress levels more.
Stress may also decrease blood flow to hair follicles. Often I receive inquires for hypnotherapy for hair loss (alopecia), which in fact, at times, may be a symptom of raised stress or anxiety. Hair loss (alopecia) can occur after traumatic events, such an accident or bereavement. Sometimes hypnotherapy clients notice this some hair loss initially and only then become aware of the stress promoting it.
Hypnotherapy for skin conditions addresses the mind body connection
Stress can exacerbate skin conditions but also will affect other organs or body systems as well. I work with many clients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), using ‘gut directed hypnotherapy’. We look at the mind body connection or specifically what is referred to as the ‘gut brain axis’. Often we think the mind and body are separate, however they are very much partners who respond and react to each other, often in a very hyper vigilant way. Hypnotherapy for skin conditions or for conditions such as IBS, aims to calm this relationship.
During stressful times you may notice physical manifestations of that anxiety or stress. These physical stress symptoms can include pains, raised agitation or, at times, embarrassing reactions such as sweating or blushing. These are examples of how an emotion, thought or feeling will become manifest topically.
Just think about watching a scary or romantic movie, listening to an emotional conversation. Have you ever started getting nervous, teary, smile or some other physical reaction in such a situation? We feel emotions and these are expressed physically in our body very quickly.
Even our language will recognise how our skin and emotions interact. Have you ever said that something ‘got under my skin’ or ‘made my skin crawl’? You might describe someone as ‘thin skinned’ or the opposite when we describe someone as ‘thick skinned’. We culturally view the skin as a barrier letting in or out feelings or emotions or describing how open to emotional expression we are.
How does hypnotherapy for skin conditions work?
Treating a skin symptom using creams topically can produce results but if the underlying emotional causes aren’t addressed, this may only be a short-term success. This is where hypnotherapy for skin conditions can provide a more holistic approach.
Hypnotherapy for skins conditions aims to uncover and treat possible underlying causes, in addition to the physical symptoms you experience. Your hypnotherapist will help you look at coping mechanism and deal better with whatever is going right now for you. This may also provide you with tools for greater confidence, higher self-esteem and they may use ego-strengthening therapy exercises as well.
Sometimes our subconscious responses to stress such as itching, nail biting, hair pulling, scratching or picking, become automatic as well. These more unconscious patterns can be treated by hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy is a wonderful way to change a person’s desire to engage in habits such as picking or scratching. You will replace these habits with more appropriate and healthy behaviours and ensure that soon your skin will be able heal. You will lower the chances of new bacteria being introduced by fingernails or other contact with any previously damaged skin.
Sometimes hypnotherapy for skin conditions sessions will include instructions in ‘self hypnosis’. Self hypnosis is a valuable tool you can use at home. It not only can encourage stress reduction, learning it is an empowering way to take charge of your own healing.
Hypnotherapy and the relaxation it brings can create a parasympathetic nervous system response. In so doing hypnotherapy can help reduce overall levels of stress and anxiety. Relaxing your nervous system will encourage the flow of healthy blood to the skin to return back nearer the rate it needs to be.
Hypnotherapy can help these common skin conditions
Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
Eczema is a general term we often use for inflamed, itchy, flaky, swollen or scaly skin. Eczema is often viewed as resulting from a lowered immune system. It is extremely worthwhile considering how emotional factors, including stress, can exacerbate the condition, alongside other health, hereditary or environmental factors.
Psoriasis can affect many areas of the body, including the knees, joints, nails, scalp, and elbows. It results from overactive skin cells renewing every three to four days, rather than the more expected 28 day cycle. This results in raised, thickened or scaly areas of inflamed skin. The effects of emotional factors such as anxiety or stress on the immune system is important. There are other considerations including skin infections, reactions to some drugs, injury to the skin or genetic factors.
Losing hair, be that in clumps or little by little, is an autoimmune condition resulting in hair follicles being mistakenly attacked by a person’s own immune system. This then results in the stopping of hair growth. Losing hair on the scalp alone is referred to as alopecia areata. Some people do experience a total loss of body hair. This is called alopecia universalis.
As well as treatments such as hypnotherapy, does diet affect skin conditions?
The following should not be viewed as health advice. Since I do receive many questions regarding how diet may affect skin conditions, I decided to include a few paragraphs here. If you do have concerns about how the food you eat is affecting your health, always ensure you consult a doctor or qualified dietition.
Debunking myths about how diet affects skin conditions
Skin conditions are a huge problem in the UK, affecting 60 percent of the population at some point during their lifetime, according to the British Skin Foundation. Over the years, people have tried all sorts of ways to counter skin conditions including making lifestyle changes, using various skin care products, diet changes, and of course hypnotherapy for skin conditions. Hypnotherapy or ‘talking therapy’ such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), can help you deal with any stress or anxiety underlying some skin issues or at least an exacerbation of symptoms. Of all the measures that people take to deal with skin conditions, diet changes are probably the biggest source of debate on what works and what doesn’t.
There’s no doubt that diet plays a vital role in our skin health. However, there are various pieces of advice about the link between diet and skin health that can be misleading. This is especially today when we ‘Google’ and come across all sorts of health sites, with information, some accurate and based in evidence and some even potentially harmful. If you are looking for information about how to take better care of your skin, it’s vital to distinguish myths from facts. In so doing you can come up with a diet plan that actually works, hopefully, without needlessly giving up foods you love.
Myth: All chocolate is bad for your skin
I love chocolate so I may be biased as I wouldn’t like to give it up. However there is a common skin myth that has resulted in many giving up one of man’s sweetest inventions. This is the old wives’ tale that all chocolate causes acne. This is simply not grounded in evidence. Indeed some types of chocolate have been proven to be good for your skin. For example, dark chocolate made with at least 70 percent cocoa and low amounts of sugar is packed with antioxidants that can boost your skin health. However, it may also be true that most mass-produced chocolate products do not have the recommended cocoa content and are instead filled with sugars, dairy products, and preservatives that may be bad for health and therefore your skin. As such, read labels on any chocolate products. If you do notice that chocolate causes any irritation, tummy aches or other symptoms, consult a dietition.
Myth: Fatty foods are the reason why you have acne
Fat in food is blamed for a lot of things, from obesity, to heart issues, and even skin problems. Sure, eating high-fat foods like pizza, chips, and burgers has been known to increase inflammation, but that doesn’t mean that all fats are bad for your skin. On the contrary, studies have proven that foods rich in healthy fats such as salmon, nuts, and avocados can fight off inflammation and keep your skin looking healthy. Not all fats are the same and so check with an expert about what is advised to eat. Remember its normally clogged pores which cause acne rather than fatty foods.
Myth: Carbs don’t affect your skin health
When people talk about diet and skin health, there is much discussion of fats, water consumption and protein. Less talked about is whether carbs impact skin conditions. On the one hand, some carbohydrates are suggested to have a negative effect on skin health. Eating refined carbs such as pasta, white bread, and white rice, which contain high amounts of sugar, can cause skin conditions to worsen. On the other hand, carbohydrates with a low glycemic index value such as oatmeal, lentils, sweet potatoes and whole wheat bread, can contribute to better health, a healthy glow and a blemish-free face.
Myth: Avoid dairy products
Quite possibly one of the biggest skin health myths is regarding how dairy products influence acne. Although research indicates that some dairy products are positively associated with acne, this does not mean that you should put all dairy products in the same ‘bad health’ basket. In fact, some fermented dairy products such as hard cheese and yoghurt have not been found to cause acne. It is therefore really important to work with a dermatologist or dietition to figure out the dairy foods that are safe for your skin, before jumping to a total dairy abstinence.
When it comes to your skin health, always seek expert advice and be sceptical about claims that you get online, or in particular, shared on social media. Everyone seems to have an opinion about which foods cause problems and there’s a lot of inaccurate information out there. Aim to maintain a well-balanced diet, listen to your body and only seek advice from a knowledgeable, experienced and qualified expert.
Remember that diet is just one part of taking care of your skin, so make sure you are taking a holistic approach to maintaining your skin health by using the right skin care products, getting more restful sleep, staying hydrated, and seeking expert support to look at any other causes of health concerns. Especially if stress or anxiety play a role, a therapist or hypnotherapist may be able help you work to reduce emotional or psychological factors, improve coping mechanism and increase calm and confidence.