Some skin conditions can be extremely debilitating, having serious effects on the life of sufferers, affecting their physical and emotional well-being and their interaction with other people.
Left untreated, skin conditions can lead to social and anxiety disorders. Skin conditions can also be a reflection of people's emotions, and stress can aggravate the symptoms.
There are three types of skin conditions: bacterial infections, viral infections and fungal infections. Apart from general rashes, the most common conditions are:
Caused by the herpes virus, these unpleasant sores usually occur around the mouth, but can be treated with medication and will usually heal within a few weeks, although the virus remains in the body. Recurrences may occur, but the frequency reduces over time.
This affects many people in their teens and twenties, but doesn't always disappear after puberty; some 5% of older adults are affected.
This inflammation of the skin is often itchy and red; sometimes with blisters, scaling, crusting or lichenification (where thicker skin is produced owing to excessive scratching).
Dry skin has a low level of sebum and can be very sensitive. Owing to its inability to retain moisture, the skin looks parched and can feel tight and uncomfortable. Chapping and cracking are signs of extremely dry, dehydrated skin. This condition can be aggravated by extremes of temperature and by wind and air-conditioning.
This long-term, chronic, condition can affect people of all ages, and typically cause the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked. There are four types of eczema:
- Atopic dermatitis, the most common form, that often runs in families and can affect all ages
- Contact dermatitis, acquired through exposure to a particular substance; can cause red, itchy, scaly skin, and sometimes also burning and stinging
- Discold (or nummular) eczema, a chronic condition that can affect any part of the body but is usually seen on the lower legs, forearms and trunk
- Varicose eczema (venous or gravitational eczema), a chronic condition that affects the legs, usually in the skin around varicose veins
A common bacterial infection of the upper layers of the skin, in which small blisters leave yellow and moist, itchy patches that dry to a crust, while the skin underneath can be red and inflamed. It is caused by bacteria that enter the skin through a cut, scratch or damage from an existing skin condition, such as eczema. Impetigo can be spread by direct contact and sharing towels or bedding with someone who has it.
Psoriasis causes flaky, red, sometimes shiny, patches on the skin, and causes itching or burning. It can be anywhere, but is more common on elbows, knees and the lower back. It is caused when the body's antibodies attack skin cells by mistake, causing them to reproduce too quickly and build up on the skin. Certain things may make symptoms worse, including alcohol, smoking, stress, infection, weather and some medicines, such as anti-inflammatory drugs and beta-blockers. It is not passed on through close contact.
This painful rash is more common after the age of 60, and is caused by a reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox. A well-defined risk factor is a compromised immune system.
Warts are small, rough — but benign — lumps on the skin that often appear on the hands and feet. Their appearance can vary according to where they appear on the body and how thick the skin is; a wart on the sole of the foot is called a verruca. Warts are very contagious, as the skin cells in warts release thousands of viruses, which means that close skin-to-skin contact can pass on the infection. It is also possible for the infection to be transmitted indirectly from objects, such as towels.
You should always see your doctor first, to deal with any underlying medical issues there may be. If undergoing hypnotherapy, your hypnotherapist would implement some of the following actions:
- Establish whether the cause is psychological rather than an allergic or medical issue
- Try to create a remission from the symptom and then manipulate it, to remove it
- Help the sufferer to recognise that others have the problem and heal, so gaining a positive outlook
- Teach sufferers stress management skills to lessen the triggers that cause the problem
- Treat the conditioned response of the condition (picking, scratching, self-esteem)
- Discuss what it was like before the condition appeared
- If the condition can't be removed, manipulate its symptoms to reduce its effect
Other treatments may include:
- Self-help books, CDs and DVDs, and support groups
- Educating the sufferer about how and why the problem occurs, as making them more aware affects the perspective of the condition and make it less worrying
- Suggesting simple lifestyle changes to encourage a healthy and happy outlook
- Alternative methods of relaxation and stress control, such as: deep breathing, relaxation, positive imagery, thought distraction, reducing stress, remaining positive, exercise
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