This article presents the results of a brief hypnosis treatment of a woman with chronic, idiopathic vaginal and anal itch.
The patient was referred after 3 years of unsuccessful outcomes with standard topical and oral treatments prescribed by her family physician and three dermatologists. Treatment consisted of five sessions of self-hypnosis training in techniques of relaxation, deepening, and imagery, and home practice with an individualized instructional tape.
After treatment, the patient reported substantial tissue healing, confirmed by her treating physician, that coincided with significant reductions in her scores of itch intensity, itch-related sleep disruption, and distress from pre- to posttreatment. These improvements continued at 4 months of follow-up, and the patient reported complete resolution of physical symptoms.
The fact that these changes coincided with only minor improvements in general anxiety scores suggests that the resolution of the patient's itch condition was treatment-specific rather than the result of methodological artifact, participant reporting bias, or a general sense of feeling better. These findings suggest that hypnosis is a cost-effective treatment for idiopathic itch conditions, especially those that are unresponsive to standard medical treatments.