Now, psychotherapy to treat skin diseases

| | Updated on: Aug 26, 2012

Scientists have discovered that a range of psychological treatments like meditation can ease the physical symptoms of skin diseases.

According to experts at the University of Sheffield, relaxation sessions, meditation and cognitive behaviour therapy were among the techniques found to help sufferers of psoriasis, eczema, acne and the pigment disorder vitiligo.

A team from the university’s psychology department analysed the combined results of previous studies and found that the emerging field of ‘psychodermatology’ provided real benefits, the ‘Telegraph’ reported.

“It has long been accepted that psychological interventions can help patients deal with the emotional impact of their skin diseases,” said Deborah Mason of the British Association of Dermatologists.

“But for the first time, this shows that they can also improve the physical symptoms,” Mason said.

The findings on more than 900 participants in 22 studies, researchers noted that psychological therapies aimed at reversing bad habits had the largest effect, particularly helping patients modify behaviour to deal with itching and scratching.

They found that cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), which works on changing negative thought patterns, also had a sizeable effect on symptoms.

However, the experts found that psychological intervention was less effective the older a patient was, underlining the need for medical staff to tailor therapies when treating older sufferers.

The psychologists ‘meta-analysis’ also discovered that group therapy appeared to be as effective as one-to-one treatment, but they said timely follow-up ‘booster sessions’ may be needed to cement early improvements in symptoms.

The study was published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Published on August 26, 2012

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