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Derm News: 2006(26)

Development of a psychological treatment service for pruritic skin conditions

Australasian Journal of Dermatology
Dorota Long, Randall A Long, Marianne P Grillo, Gillian Marshman


The role of psychological contributions to common dermatological disease is increasingly recognized. It is often a challenge to find suitable psychological services to complement dermatological treatment. This paper describes the development of a psychological treatment service to reduce scratching behaviour found in common pruritic skin conditions. Our Department of Dermatology together with a consultation-liaison psychiatrist designed a four-session outpatient treatment programme incorporating psychiatric assessment, psychoeducation about the itch-scratch cycle, behavioural analysis, habit reversal techniques and between-session tasks for the patient to complete.

This programme is actively modified in consultation with patients and their therapists to suit each patient's individual needs. Formal investigation is required to determine if this psychological treatment adds benefit in overall symptom control beyond dermatological treatment alone.

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The Derm News service provided by the Editorial Consultants of Skin Therapy Letter© and its founding editor Dr. Stuart Maddin.