Medical hypnosis is the intentional induction, deepening, maintenance, and termination of the natural trance state for a specific medical purpose. All individuals enter spontaneous mild trances daily while absorbed in watching television or a movie, in reading a book or a magazine, or in some other activity or meditation. With appropriate training, an individual may intensify this trance state in himself or herself or in another individual and use this heightened focus to induce mind-body interactions that help to alleviate suffering or to promote healing. The trance state may be induced by using guided imagery, relaxation, deep breathing, meditation techniques, self-hypnosis, or hypnosis induction techniques. Individuals vary in their ability to enter the trance state, but most can obtain some benefit from hypnosis. In dermatology, hypnosis may help decrease pain and pruritus in the skin; intervene in psychosomatic aspects of skin diseases; and lead to the resolution of some skin diseases, including warts.
Hypnosis can regulate blood flow and other autonomic functions not usually under conscious control. The relaxation response that occurs with hypnosis also affects the neurohormonal systems that regulate many body functions. Hypnosis may be used to increase healthy behaviors, to decrease situational stress, to reduce needle phobias, to control harmful habits such as scratching, to provide immediate and long-term analgesia, to relieve symptoms related to diseases such as itching, to accelerate recovery from surgery, and to enhance the mind-body connection to promote healing. Hypnosis can be especially helpful in dealing with skin diseases that have a psychosomatic aspect. Hypnoanalysis may help patients with chronic psychosomatic dermatoses that are nonresponsive to other simpler approaches. Results may occur more rapidly than with standard psychoanalysis.
Hypnosis can reduce anxiety, needle phobia, and pain during cutaneous surgery, as well as reducing postoperative discomfort. Hypnosis may improve or clear numerous skin disorders. Examples include acne excoriée, alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis, congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma, dyshidrotic dermatitis, erythromelalgia, furuncles, glossodynia (tongue pain), herpes simplex, hyperhidrosis (excess sweating), ichthyosis vulgaris, lichen planus, neurodermatitis, nummular dermatitis, post-herpetic neuralgia (post-shingles pain), pruritus (itching), psoriasis, rosacea, trichotillomania (hair pulling), urticaria, verruca vulgaris (warts), and vitiligo.