We all know that some skin conditions have a psychological dimension. And we aren’t referring to going red when we feel ashamed or breaking out in a sweat from fear. Acne, psoriasis and even certain kinds of warts may be psychological in origin and, according to psychodermatologists, can be treated with hypnosis, relaxation, meditation or psychotherapy.
Some 10 years ago, a Harvard Medical School article launched a debate about the effectiveness of what is called psychodermatology. Can psychological therapy cure a skin problem? North American and European psychodermatologists think so, and, for many years, have defended the validity of their theories and therapies based on linking the psyche with the skin. Just to make it clear, we are referring to dermatologists and psychiatrists who use relaxation, meditation and hypnosis, that is, people with medical degrees. A doctor’s diagnosis is essential before any therapy.
Stress does indeed take its toll on the sin and can worsen many disorders, like those mentioned above and also other conditions such as atopic dermatitis, pruritus, mouth ulcers and alopecia in both men and women. According to the dermatology department of a major public hospitalin Barcelona, one third of consulting patients have a psychosomatic skin disorder.
Despite resistance from conventional dermatology, in some hospitals and private centres around the world psychodermatology has already become yet another dermatological treatment. However, the absence of clinical guidelines and protocols would indicate the need for further research.