Damian* was being driven to distraction by the itching from his psoriasis. It was mainly on his scalp, and his constant scratching and picking was now such an ingrained habit that he wasn’t even aware of doing it. “If I don’t even notice I’m doing it” he asked me “then can I learn to stop? The problem is my doctor says I’m making my it worse, and I’m pulling out bits of hair as well.”
The good news for Damian was that hypnotherapy for psoriasis can help people to learn to recognise and control ingrained habits like picking and scratching. What he was doing was gaining some short term relief from the itching, but by picking at the scales on his scalp he was making the irritation worse and longer lasting. It wasn’t just the itching though – it was self-consciousness as well. “If I can feel them itching” he told me “then I think they must be really noticeable, and so I just want to get rid of them as quickly as possible.”
Damian was caught in a classic situation, where what he was doing to cover up a problem was what was making it noticeable in the first place. What people noticed were his continual picking and the flakes of skin left on his hair and clothes. What were much less noticeable, because of his hair style, were the lesions and dry skin when he didn’t pick them.
As I’d told Damian it was easy to use hypnotherapy for psoriasis to teach him to be aware of the moments when he did go to scratch or pick, and to consciously decide not to. Shaking the habit took a little longer for him to do though, so we talked about what breaking the habit would mean to him. Once he’d described the feelings of achievement and a lack of self-consciousness we linked those with deciding not to pick, making that even more rewarding than the immediate relief that picking brought.
To make sure Damian had the best chance of success I asked him to check with his GP about his psoriasis treatment. Improvements in his self-care also helped him to lessen the scratching, and I’m very happy to say that Damian is now out of a cycle that was making things worse for him.
Damian’s real identity has been protected, and he is happy to share his story.