As National Eczema Week gets rolling 18 to 25 September, we take a look at how meditation can help ease the distress of skin conditions.
Studies have shown that people with eczema have more physiological symptoms of stress that participants with problem-free skin. Anyone with eczema, psoriasis or similar condition will tell you that stress comes before a flare up.
So, as well as treating the physical effects, it makes sense to focus at least as much attention on treating psychological triggers by learning to relax.
Mindfulness has been proven to work
There's increasing evidence that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) can help reduce stress levels and teach us new to deal with them.
People who take a course in MBSR say that they feel more engaged in their work, more energised and less anxious, says the UK's Mental Health Foundation.
So what is it? MBSR is a mixture of meditation, gentle yoga and mind-body exercises to help people cope with stress by changing their relationship to it.
Thirty seven people with psoriasis were studied in a trial led by John Kabat-Zin PhD, a pioneer of clinical research into mindfulness.
The skin of patients listening to a guided mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction technique recording while receiving UVB or PUVA light treatments cleared at about four times the rate of participants who had phototherapy by itself.
Do the self-guided training programe
For a detailed DIY guide to MBSR, read Jon Kabat-Zinn's bestselling book Full Catastrophe Living (£20, Piatkus Books).
He's also produced a mindfulness CD for psoriasis sufferers, based on the same techniques used in the trial mentioned above.
Last but not least, to find a MBSR course near you, search www.bemindful.co.uk, where you can also take an online stress test.
Are you a fan of mindfulness or MBSR? Tell us what it's done for you.