Mold professionals know that mold has several potential health effects. More than 20,000 species of mold exist worldwide, and some can cause allergic symptoms and respiratory problems. Mold can trigger asthma attacks in susceptible individuals, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Decay may also worsen chronic respiratory conditions such as emphysema or bronchitis. Individuals constantly exposed to it might be at an increased risk for fungal sinusitis or other allergies related to the skin or airways, such as seasonal allergies (hay fever). In addition, mold may affect mental health.
Health Effects Of Mold
1. Allergic Reactions
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology points out that allergic reactions to mold are the most common health effects. Acutely exposed people may have respiratory symptoms such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, and coughing. Other allergic reactions may include swelling of the lips and face, intense itching, or hives. People with chronic mold exposure often develop asthma or allergies such as hay fever, skin disorders like athlete’s foot, or more severe infections, including tuberculosis. Those with weakened immune systems are also at an increased risk for disease, including fungal sinusitis, cryptococcosis, and pneumocystosis.
2. Allergic Skin Reactions
Allergic skin reactions cause rashes, blisters, and redness on the skin. Chronic mold exposure can lead to severe reactions, including eczema and psoriasis. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, as many as 18 million Americans have chronic eczema caused by allergies. The condition is often challenging to treat, but topical steroids may sometimes be used.
3. Fungal Sinusitis
Fungal sinusitis is chronic sinusitis caused by fungi such as “Aspergillus” or “Candida.” Fungal sinusitis can result in nose bleeds and headaches. It may also cause chronic ear infections. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website, the disease can be treated with antifungals such as ketoconazole, itraconazole, or itraconazole.
4. Respiratory Problems
Research suggests that mold exposure may increase a person’s risk for worsening asthma and other lung diseases, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website. Individuals with asthma are at greater risk for fungal sinusitis caused by “Aspergillus.” Those with weakened immune systems are also at increased risk for fungal infections.
5. Mental Health Issues
Individuals who are chronically exposed to “Aspergillus” may have decreased levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website. It could lead to several mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
6. Allergic Urticaria
Allergic urticaria is a reaction in which hives form on the skin. The packs are red welts that are usually itchy or prickly. They typically appear within 6–72 hours of exposure to an allergen such as mold, according to the Mayo Clinic website. The reaction usually goes away after a few days and requires no treatment. People may have anaphylactic reactions if they have severe allergic reactions to mold or other allergens.
Effects On the Skin
1. Recurrent Rashes
Mold can trigger allergic reactions that cause rashes, blisters, and redness on the skin. Symptoms can appear as a flat red patch, a raised bump, or small blisters filled with clear fluid. The condition often goes away if people avoid mold exposure. If rashes persist, specific treatments may be helpful, including antihistamines and corticosteroids. According to the Mayo Clinic website, cortisone creams are most effective for rashes affecting large skin areas. These creams may also help reduce itching associated with rough bumps or blisters on the skin.
2. Allergic Nail Fungus
Allergic nail fungus is a fungal infection that affects the nails and skin surrounding the nails. It causes discoloration and changes in the shape of the toenails. People who have a weakened immune system are more likely to develop it. Symptoms include thickened, yellowed, crumbly, and brittle nails that may crumble or fall off. The condition can be treated with oral antifungal medications such as terbinafine or itraconazole, according to a review published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology in 2007. Antibiotics are also effective in some cases, as are fungicidal soaps.
3. Recurring Dermatitis
Recurring dermatitis is a skin condition that causes rashes to return repeatedly at the same time each year. The disease may be caused by allergic reactions or contact with mold or fungi. People who have a weakened immune system, including people with AIDS, are more likely to develop it and may also be more likely to have allergy-related asthma. People who have chronic conditions such as diabetes are also susceptible to recurrent dermatitis, according to the Mayo Clinic website.
It is important to note that mold spores in the environment do not usually grow and spread until they find a suitable host. It means that environmental sealing needs to be done before any contamination occurs. However, it can still be possible for bacteria to turn up in moldy products and produce toxins that cause illness or death. The risk of these products being tainted with bacteria is low, but it is possible, so your area’s health department(s) should always accompany their inspections.