The term eczema refers to the skin condition atopic dermatitis (AD), which impacts the barrier of the skin. It’s relatively common, with an estimated 1 in 10 individuals (about 31.6 million people) in the U.S. dealing with it.

“With atopic dermatitis, there is a skin barrier defect, and the skin loses water easily, becoming itchy and inflamed,” explains board-certified dermatologist Andrea Suarez, M.D., FAAD. For me, this means that no matter how much I moisturize, my skin always remains just as dry as before.

There are several kinds of eczema—each with its own unique triggers, symptoms, and appearance. They include but are not limited to: atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis (irritation from poison ivy, for example), neurodermatitis (intensely itchy), and dyshidrotic eczema (which causes blisters).

Flares of this painful skin condition can occur because of stress, a change in environment, illness, irritants, and a range of other triggers you can’t control. At this point in time, there is no cure for atopic dermatitis. But there are plenty of ways to manage it and find relief; some of which start in the gut.

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