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Finding Solutions for Eczema

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Eczema: Don’t Over-Correct

Medically Reviewed By Kimberly Valenta, MD
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Have you ever had immediate remorse over a well-intentioned over-correction? Like, you ran out of paper towels at a critical time once, and now you always have a Costco-size supply of paper towels in your home – and while it’s incredibly reassuring to have, it’s now taking up precious real estate. Or maybe you’ve tried to fix the tail of your liquid eyeliner over and over again and now that tail looks really weird but there’s no time to do anything about it. Or how about those new even-shorter bangs you were so confident in cutting yourself? Are they getting you the kind of attention you wanted?

Don’t over-do it

It’s really easy to over-correct when it comes to managing your eczema. We are our own worst critics after all. I’ve always been someone who never wanted to rely on a substance. So you can imagine my grief when dealing with my eczema. Because my skin was dry and irritated, I would always have to have several different creams and moisturizers slathered on my body and then bottles on my person or bag or back of my car. I hated it! And ironically, I always felt better after I scratched off the lotion and my skin could finally breathe. But I always had moisturizers on hand because I have eczema. I thought I had to.

However, I’ve since learned that when you have eczema, applying excessive moisturizer is a form of over-correcting. Of course, my experience is only true for me, and your skin may be different. But I found, for me, my skin is meant to have texture, not to be perfectly dewy and smooth all the time. Our bodies are also meant to heal themselves. You want your skin to be moisturized? Have you thought of how to moisturize your skin without moisturizer (the way your body naturally moisturizes)? Have you had enough water Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source today? Have you exercised Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source ? These are ways that the body takes care of your skin, and they might not be immediately obvious. Although this won’t be the case for everyone, I’ve found through experience that applying huge amounts of moisturizer stopped my skin from being able to stay hydrated on its own.

I’m aware that everyone’s skin journey is incredibly unique and what might work for one person might not work for the next. But if you’re looking for a new product to try on your skin, how about… none at all? I know it sounds absolutely crazy. It’s literally the opposite of the advice that any medical professional or skincare advertisement has told you. But I have found that sometimes, less is really more. 

Trust your body

You can look at over-correcting as an exercise of trust. When you redid your liquid eyeliner, it’s because you didn’t trust that you had done it correctly the first time. When you snipped off another centimeter of hair, you didn’t trust that you had cut off enough length the first time. When you reapply moisturizer to your skin, you’re telling your skin that you don’t trust that it will be able to moisturize itself. I understand that stopping all moisturizing is easier said than done. Some people stop cold turkey. But some (like me) had to do it incrementally over a long period of time. I can confidently say that now, the majority of my skin is able to self-moisturize. I wasn’t sure it would work at first, and it may not work for everyone, but I’m so glad I tried.

I encourage everyone to not give into the perfectionism narrative and over-correct. I’ve seen and felt the proof on my very own body. When you over-correct by applying lotion all of the time, you’re communicating to your skin that you don’t trust that it can heal itself. And so it doesn’t. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s just like anything in life – if you don’t give someone or a situation in life the space, time, and trust to do something for you, they never will. So learn that hard life lesson and give your skin the space, time, and trust to learn how to self-moisturize again.

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Medical Reviewer: Kimberly Valenta, MD
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