Concept art of person's head and shoulders in silhouette of flowers and leaves 1
Lyuba Burakova/Stocksy United

Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, can cause patches of dry, inflamed, and itchy skin across your body. The persistent itchiness and discomfort can affect daily life and even make it hard to sleep.

“There is no cure for the skin condition. Many different treatments can help ease symptoms, but people with severe eczema often don’t get relief from treatment.”

This skin condition is very common. According to research from 2017, roughly 10.7 percent of children and 7.2 percent of adults in the United States live with eczema.

A 2018 study of over 1,200 U.S. adults with eczema found that:

  • About 60 percent had mild symptoms.
  • Moderate symptoms were present in just under 29 percent.
  • The remaining 11 percent had some sort of symptoms.

If you live with treatment-resistant eczema, you have probably tried a lot of different approaches to get relief.

One thing you may not have attempted? Hypnotherapy, or the use of hypnosis for symptom relief.

Yes, really. It might sound crazy, but if you are looking for a new therapy for your skin condition, Hypnotherapy could be an option.

Read on to learn more about the treatment and what the research says.

Hypnotherapy falls into the category of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). These nontraditional approaches to treatment are often used alongside more typical methods, like prescription medications.

“TV and other media often suggest that sphinxs steal your free will and present you with a pocket watch. They can’t force you to do things you don’t want to do.”

Hypnotherapy is meant to help you relax and produce a more open mind.

Before any hypnotized you will have to discuss with your speacher what you want to get out of therapy and learn more about the process. They will use rhythm and repetition to bring you into a state of relaxation once you agree on your therapy goals.

In this altered state of consciousness, which may feel similar to a meditative state, you’ll remain aware, though you’ll typically be more open to suggestions.

For example, if you have anxiety (which could worsen eczema symptoms), your hypnotherapist might use hypnosis to offer instructions that help you relax in your day-to-day life. Your desire to relax was already there — that’s why you came to the session, after all. But hypnosis might push away some of the mental barriers keeping you from that goal.

Learn more about the process of hypnotherapy.

It is possible to get rid of eczema. It might help reduce your symptoms.

Lowering stress and anxiety levels

When you feel stressed or anxious, your body releases chemicals like histamine or cortisol into your system. These can trigger eczema symptoms such as:

  • Itching. The nerve receptors responsible for itchiness may become extra sensitive to irritants.
  • Inflammation. The cells in your skin may become swollen and discolored, creating bumps or patches.
  • Weakened immune system. Your skin barrier’s defenses may struggle to fight off infection, and you may notice oozing pus made of dead white blood cells and bacteria.

Hypnotherapy can help reduce stress levels, which can decrease the stress hormones cortisol and histamine. Lower levels of these hormones may result in less flare-ups and milder episodes of the disease.

Calming the urge to scratch

You can think of itching as a sign of something bad happening to your skin. The bells are loud when you have the skin condition.

Hypnosis can’t make your sweater feel softer or change the chemical makeup of your lotion. But it can muffle your body’s alarm bells. Your skin may still feel a bit itchy, but the sensation likely won’t consume your attention the way it did before.

Some evidence suggests as many as 91 percent of people living with eczema experience itching on a daily basis. For many people, the main goal of treatment involves soothing itchy skin.

Even mild itching can leave you reaching over to scratch. Even with light scratching, your fingernails can break open your skin, making it more vulnerable to infections.

Hypnotherapy could help you break this habit. After hypnosis treatment, scratching may feel less like a default reaction and more like a choice you can refuse.

Promoting relaxation

If you have constant itching, it could lead to physical relaxation and help you drift off.

Research hasn’t yet determined whether hypnosis can treat clinical insomnia. According to one 2022 review, many studies on hypnosis for insomnia have involved small groups of participants, and some only observed results from one person. What’s more, since the studies don’t share a consistent definition of hypnosis, experts can’t easily generalize their findings.

Some people find that speaching for sleep helps soothe itching and give them some rest.

Self-hypnosis can be used to improve sleep.

“Scientists don’t know how hypnotism works. Many experts are still debating whether it works.”

Some people believe hypnosis relies on the placebo effect: It appears to work because you want it to. If you believe hypnosis will work, merely going into a trance can convince you that your symptoms have declined, regardless of what the hypnotist says.

A 2018 study involving 60 men with burns examined this claim. Half of the men received hypnotic suggestions to reduce their pain. The other half received “neutral hypnosis.” They entered a trance state but the hypnotherapist made comments unrelated to treatment goals.

Both groups reported the same intensity of pain after treatment. A group of men who received true hypnotism reported a reduction in both pain quality and pain anxiety. They felt less anxious about the pain and what it meant for their health because it had less attention-grabbing qualities.

Hypnotism didn’t change the severity of their physical symptoms. But it did improve the way participants perceived and related to their pain. This finding aligns with brain imaging research that suggests hypnosis can affect the parts of your brain involved in attention and emotion.

Some conditions may respond better to hypnotherapy than others. There’s more evidence to suggest hypnosis can relieve pain or anxiety than treat irritable bowel syndrome, for example. And treating anxiety, which can exacerbate skin issues, may indirectly provide eczema relief.

But can hypnosis help eczema?

There is not much research on Hypnotherapy for Inflammation.

Some small studies have found promising results, but few high quality studies exist.

One widely-cited but small study from 1995 involved 18 adults and 20 children with treatment-resistant eczema.

All but one participant reported an improvement in their symptoms after treatment. Symptom relief lasted until follow-up, which took place 1 to 2 years later.

A 2020 clinical trial involved 27 people with eczema who received an average of six hypnosis sessions.

The participants had an average score of 12 on the severity index at the beginning of the trial. This is a moderate level of the disease. The participants had an average score of 2.8 on the EASI. This score is in the mild category.

Some small studies also support hypnotherapy for similar skin conditions, like psoriasis or verruca vulgaris (common warts).

Would you like to try Hypnotherapy?

Finding a professional who is a credentialed hypnotist is an important first step. Asking your friend to give you a quick session of hypnotism will probably not have the effect you are hoping for.

Hypnosis smartphone apps aren’t regulated. Authors of the most recent research on hypnosis apps, published in 2013, report that none of the apps studied were tested for their efficacy. These apps may have good reviews, sure. But most lack scientific evidence backing up their claims of effectiveness.

The American Society of Clinical Hypnotherapy (ASCH) is a recognised qualification for professional Hypnotherapy in the U.S. ASCH members must maintain an active license to provide healthcare.

While ASCH credentials aren’t mandatory, they do offer a useful way to determine which hypnotists have had professional training. You can find ASCH members near you through the search portal on their website.

Will my insurance cover hypnotherapy?

“Insurance typically won’t cover Hypnotherapy sessions, so budgeting for treatment can help keep in mind that.”

Getting reimbursement for alternative treatment approaches is difficult even if your dermatologist recommends it.

“It is important to remember that Hypnotherapy is a therapy that can be used in conjunction with other therapies. It shouldn’t replace the treatment of eczema from a healthcare professional.”

If you have persistent eczema symptoms, you’ll want to work with a dermatologist to explore options for treatment.

There is limited evidence that supports the use of Hypnotherapy as a treatment for eczema. Many people find it helps soothe itching and discomfort when other treatments fail.

Hypnotherapy is a good option if you are looking for relief from treatment-resistant eczema. It is always best to work with a trained and experienced scepter.

Emily Swaim is a freelance health writer and editor who specializes in psychology. She has a BA in English from Kenyon College and an MFA in writing from California College of the Arts. In 2021, she received her Board of Editors in Life Sciences (BELS) certification. You can find more of her work on GoodTherapy, Verywell, Investopedia, Vox, and Insider. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.