First let's look at what psoriasis is and the different types of the disorder.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales.
These patches normally appear on your elbows, knees, scalp and lower back but can appear anywhere on your body. Most people are only affected in small patches. In some cases, the patches can be itchy or sore.
Psoriasis affects around 2% of people in the UK. It can start at any age, but most often develops in adults under 35 years old. The condition affects men and women equally. The severity of psoriasis varies greatly from person to person. For some people, it is just a minor irritation, for others it has a major impact on their quality of life. Psoriasis is a long-lasting (chronic) disease that usually involves periods when you have no symptoms or mild symptoms, followed by periods when symptoms are more severe.
Why it happens
Psoriasis occurs when the process by which the body produces skin cells is accelerated. Skin cells are normally made and replaced every three to four months, but in psoriasis this process only lasts about three to seven days. The resulting build-up of skin cells is what creates the patches associated with psoriasis.
Although the process is not fully understood, it is thought the increased production of skin cells is related to a problem with the immune system. The immune system is your body's defence against disease and infection, but in people with psoriasis it attacks healthy skin cells by mistake. As psoriasis can run in families, there is also thought to be a genetic element to psoriasis. However, the exact role that genetics plays in causing psoriasis is unclear. Many people's psoriasis symptoms start or become worse because of a certain event, known as a trigger. Possible triggers of psoriasis include an injury to your skin, throat infections and using certain medicines.
The condition is not contagious so it cannot be spread from person to person.
Types of Psoriasis
Plaque Psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris)
Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of the disease and appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells or scale. These patches or plaques most often appear on the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back. They are often itchy and painful, and they can crack and bleed.
Guttate psoriasis is a form of psoriasis that often starts in childhood or young adulthood. This is the second most common type of psoriasis, after plaque psoriasis. About 10% of people who get psoriasis develop guttate psoriasis.
Guttate psoriasis causes a rash formed of drop-shaped salmon-pink areas on the chest, arms, legs and scalp.
Inverse psoriasis (also known as intertriginous psoriasis) shows up as very red lesions in body folds. It may appear smooth and shiny. Many people have another type of psoriasis elsewhere on the body at the same time.
Pustular psoriasis is characterized by white pustules (blisters of non-infectious pus) surrounded by red skin. The pus consists of white blood cells. It is not an infection, nor is it contagious.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is a particularly inflammatory form of psoriasis that often affects most of the body surface. It may occur in association with von Zumbusch pustular psoriasis. It is a rare type of psoriasis, occurring once or more during the lifetime of 3% of people who have psoriasis. It generally appears on people who have unstable plaque psoriasis. This means the lesions are not clearly defined. Widespread, fiery redness and exfoliation of the skin characterize this form. Severe itching and pain often accompanies it.
Whilst it can be frustrating finding the right treatment for your psoriasis, and some can take a number of weeks before improvement can be seen, there is a wide range of treatments available.Treatments range from topical creams and shampoos, through to Ultra-Violet (UV) light therapy, systemic tablets and biologic injections. However, psoriasis tends to be very unique to the individual, and a treatment that works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another, because of this, treating psoriasis can be a process of trial and error, and it can be frustrating.
There may be times when your psoriasis gets you down, and when it can be hard to be motivated to use any treatment at all. However, above everything else, it’s important that you regularly see your doctor to review your condition, and be honest about your treatment. It’s the best way of making sure you get to try as many treatments as possible, and find one that makes a difference to you.
Psoriasis and Hypnosis
Of all the psoriasis types it's plaque psoriasis that the evidence is based on as this seems to be the type that has the most effective response to hypnosis. Studies have shown that in 80% of sufferers hypnosis can produce partial or complete remission, although there are many positive case studies around the other types as well.
Why is hypnosis so effective?
Psoriasis is an auto-immune disorder and as such the body produces an inflammatory reaction to the skin. It is well documented that hypnosis can control an inflammatory reaction and the NHS even uses this to help burns victims heal quicker and with less scarring.
Inflammatory cells are dispatched by the subconscious mind. All biological and chemical reactions within the body are controlled and regulated by the subconscious including hormonal and steroidal release. In hypnosis we have direct access to the subconscious and so we can affect what it releases into the body.
By controlling the inflammation the psoriasis doesn't have a pathway to the skin so the sufferer can feel the joy of having partial or completely clear skin! We also look at the triggers of outbreaks as these are usually emotionally/psychologically related.
One of my clients had been suffering with psoriasis for 26 years. It started with plaque psoriasis at the age of six then developed into pustular psoriasis at the age of 15. Her confidence was affected as was her attitude towards life. She had tried steroids and emollients, phototherapy, immunosuppressants, antibiotics, and biologics, all of which worked for 2 weeks at the most then her flare ups began again. After just 3 sessions with me she was able to come off her immunosuppressants and notice that her skin was 98% clear unaided by conventional treatment. She went swimming for the first time in 20 years and is now enjoying an active social life as she now has methods to control any further outbreaks.
Hypnosis is a vastly under-used modality in the treatment of psoriasis and I would be delighted to talk to you about the ways in which I can help you with the emotional, physical and psychological burdens of your disorder.
Paul believes hypnosis is empowering and life-changing. Look around the website and get in touch should you have any queries