About Dr Jill Crista:
Dr. Jill Crista is a naturopathic doctor, bestselling author, and nationally recognized health educator on mold-related illness. She helps people recover their health after exposure to toxic mold.
Her book, Break The Mold, provides tools for anyone wanting actionable steps to conquer health challenges related to mold exposure.
What Do We Know About Mold Sensitivity
The term mold sensitivity is broadly used to refer to any chronic non-allergic response to mold exposure. Mold sensitivity is not understood nearly as well as mold allergies because the condition is associated with an undefined range of symptoms that have no measurable cause. Some people report experiencing a wide array of symptoms that they believe to be caused by mold sensitivity. These symptoms include anxiety, cognitive issues, depression and insomnia, as well as different types of physical pain. Because mold sensitivity cannot be measured, there is no observable link between the condition and its associated symptoms.
Unfortunately, Western medicine has no answer for those who believe they are affected by mold sensitivity, also referred to as vulnerability to mold toxicity. Unlike mold allergies that can be diagnosed with a skin test or allergen-specific immunoglobulin blood test, there is no test that can diagnose this issue, and there is a lack of scientific research to back up information about the condition. The EPA states that mold-related symptoms other than allergic reactions and irritation by spores are not commonly reported.
Other Symptoms Of Mold Allergy
Hives are only one symptom of an allergy to mold. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, other common symptoms include respiratory symptoms like coughing, sneezing, runny nose, trouble breathing, sore throat, and itchy, watery eyes. Symptoms may also include headaches and fatigue.
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Molds Effect On Your Skin
The symptoms connected to mold illness are a mile long. And if you include the condition known as Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome the list grows longer still. CIRS is a common cause of complex, poorly understood medical conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
But so far as the conventional medical community is concerned, CIRS is not a recognized condition. Fortunately, they do recognize a number of other symptoms to be caused by mold. Some of the commonly agreed-upon symptoms of mold exposure include:
- Nasal congestion
- Eye irritation
- Skin rashes or irritation
One study found that more than 50% of those exposed to mold experienced skin rashes and/or other skin irritations. Another meta-analysis found that mold had consistent positive associations with multiple allergic and respiratory effects .
I think its safe to make the conclusion that mold affects your skin. If you want to stop applying steroid creams to your skin for the foreseeable future, you need to identify the root cause.
Mold could be the cause youre searching for!
Normal Moles Vs Abnormal Moles
Normal moles are usually small, round spots on the skin that are colored brown or black. They are either elevated or flat, appear proportionate, and are the same all over.
A mole could be considered abnormal if the color and spots are not uniform, or if it has recently changed its appearance. For example, a doctor should be asked to check a mole if it was flat and has suddenly become raised.
Other characteristics of abnormal moles include:
- borders or edges that are uneven
- more than one color or shape
- a size larger than a pencil eraser
- any change from how it used to be
Not all abnormal moles or itchy moles mean cancer, but anyone with a mole that itches, oozes, bleeds, or has changed from normal to abnormal, should have it checked out by a dermatologist.
Other races, including African-Americans, can be affected, but the risk is lower for this population.
Melanoma risk increases with age, with 63 years of age being the average for diagnosis.
But anyone, irrespective of how old they are, can be diagnosed with this type of skin cancer.
Melanoma is one of the most serious skin cancers, so it is essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms.
A changed mole is the first sign that something might be wrong. Melanoma can also show up in the development of new moles.
Additional skin symptoms include:
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What Causes Allergic Rhinitis
You have an allergy when your body overreacts to things that dont cause problems for most people. These things are called allergens. If you have allergies, your body releases chemicals when you are exposed to an allergen. One such chemical is called histamine. Histamine is your bodys defense against the allergen. The release of histamine causes your symptoms.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen. Pollen comes from flowering trees, grass, and weeds. If you are allergic to pollen, you will notice your symptoms are worse on hot, dry days when wind carries the pollen. On rainy days, pollen often is washed to the ground, which means you are less likely to breathe it.
- Allergies that occur in the spring are often due to tree pollen.
- Allergies that occur in the summer are often due to grass and weed pollen.
- Allergies that occur in the fall are often due to ragweed.
Allergens that can cause perennial allergic rhinitis include:
Mold Allergy And Outdoor Mold Counts
Molds, also known as fungi, produce spores and other fungal particles. Outdoor mold spores play a major role in causing most mold allergy symptoms. Like pollen, mold spores are airborne and become abundant in the warmer weather months. Unlike pollen, which typically is released in the greatest numbers early in the day, mold spore release depends three factors: 1) type of mold present, 2) heat and 3) humidity. Dry air spores such as Cladosporium or Alternaria release the most spores during the afternoon hours when the weather conditions are hot and dry. Wet air spores , such as Ascospores and Basidiospores release the largest numbers of spores during pre-dawn hours when there is high humidity.
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How Can Mold Affect My Health
Many molds can cause health effects. Molds produce allergens, irritants and,sometimes, toxins that may cause adverse reactions in humans. A reaction tomold depends on how much a person is exposed to, the age of the person and thepersons sensitivities or allergies. The same amount of mold may causehealth effects in one person, but not in another.
Exposure to mold can cause a variety of symptoms. Sensitive people who havetouched or inhaled mold or mold spores may have allergic reactions such as arunny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, watery eyes, skin rash and itching. Molds can trigger asthma attacks in people who are allergic tomolds, causing wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. A diseaselike pneumonia may also develop after exposure to mold, but this is uncommon.
Infectious diseases from molds can occur in people with weakened immunesystems, such as those who are immune-compromised or immune-suppressed fromdrug treatment. Some types of mold are known to cause infections inimmune-compromised people. Such infections can affect the skin, eyes, lungs orother organs. These are considered opportunistic infections that usually do notaffect healthy people.
Mold Exposure And Your Health
Most people automatically assume mold exposure, especially black mold exposure, causes poor health. But thats not always the case, says Lahari Rampur, M.D., who practices at the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Clinic at UW Medical Center.
There are hundreds of types of mold that do not cause any symptoms at all, and not all mold is bad, she says.
The symptoms of mold exposure, which appear like allergy symptoms , generally only occur if you have an allergy to mold. If you have an underlying condition that compromises your immune system, severe mold and fungal infections can occur. In rare cases, a type of mold hypersensitivity that causes lung disease can present with severe asthma-like symptoms, such as coughing, difficulty breathing and chest tightness, which are difficult to control with regular asthma medications, says Rampur.
You can find out if you are allergic to molds by scheduling an allergy skin test with an allergist. In some cases, blood tests may be needed if there is a strong suspicion you have a mold allergy but the skin tests are normal. If both tests find no evidence of a mold allergy, your provider will ask you to clean all visible mold out of your home and reassess the cause if symptoms continue, says Rampur.
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Quick Read With Spring Comes Mold
- Your bathroom, kitchen or basement are probably crawling in it right about now.
- Mold is not only gross to look atit can cause infections and allergy symptoms in people who are allergic to mold or have a compromised immune system.
- The best way to avoid mold issues to prevent it from thriving in your home.
At the tail end of a long rainy season, the Pacific Northwest is rewarded with cherry blossoms, camellias and magnolias in bloom. Its not all beautiful flowers, bright green grass and magical-looking moss, though. Rainy season also creates the perfect environment for moldsometimes lots of itto invade our homes.
Mold thrives in moist environments, such as bathrooms, kitchens and basements. And its more likely to come out during Seattles fall, winter and early spring months when its wet out and there is a more dramatic temperature difference between the indoors and outdoors, explains Brandon Kemperman, an occupational health and safety specialist for Environmental Health & Safety at the University of Washington. When its chilly and damp outside and toasty inside, condensation can form on surfaces in your homeespecially if there isnt adequate ventilationthat are ideal breeding grounds for mold.
Not only is mold less appealing to the eye than spring blooms, it also can destroy your belongings and may contribute to nagging allergy symptoms in some people.
How Do Molds Affect People
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin. Some people, such as those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people with asthma symptoms in people with asthma and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.
In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould pdf iconexternal icon pdf icon. Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies.
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Symptoms Of A Mold Rash
A mold rash typically manifests as an area of red irritated skin, that gradually starts to develop small, raised bumps. Mold rashes are usually described by the individual sufferer as being Extremely itchy.
Mold Rash Can Contribute To A Skin Infection
The severe itchiness of a mold rash can be hard to ignore. Many sufferers fail to avoid the impulse to scratch excessively. This can harm the various dermal layers that are already overwhelmed by the presence of microbial mold, making them more likely to develop an infection.
As this starts to happen, you will like notice increased swelling and severe redness. As time goes on the infected area of skin might even release discharge or start to feel warm.
What Causes A Fungal Rash
When your skin comes into contact with a harmful fungus, the infection can cause the rash to appear. For example, if you borrowed a pair of shoes from someone who had athletes foot, the fungus could come in contact with your foot and infect you. Rashes often pass from person to person or from animal to person by direct contact.
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Medications For A Mold
If you believe your rash is from an allergic reaction, it is likely that a doctor or nurse will likely recommend over-the-counter remedies such as:
- Cortisone cream
If your rash is more severe, it could require antibiotics, in which case you would need a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider such as a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.
You also might be able to treat a mild mold-related skin rash with other topical cures such as:
- Aloe vera
- Oatmeal baths
- Cold compress
If your rash worsens, stop applying anything you have been using, and consider seeking medical advice.
Lawn Allergy: Mold & Cut Grass
Mowing your lawn to reduce grass pollination and limiting your exposure to grass pollen are both important steps in avoiding the misery of allergies. In addition to grass pollen triggering allergy symptoms, many individuals experience typical allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itchy watery eyes, nasal congestion, and even wheezing when exposed to the smell of freshly cut grass. Allergic reactions triggered by the smell of freshly cut grass are likely from the non-pollen parts of the grass, which also contain allergenic proteins or outdoor molds, which have been stirred up by the mowing process. Concentrations of these allergy triggers dramatically escalate for a short period of time during and immediately after mowing. For more tips on reducing exposure to outdoor molds when mowing the lawn, read The Asthma Centers Allergy-Friendly Lawn & Grass Guide.
Outdoor Mold Prevention Tip: If you are seeing mold growing on your mulch, be sure to check the thickness of the layer of mulch. Mulch layered thicker than 3 cm allows for molds to grow, repelling water from reaching the roots under the mulch.
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Is There A Test To Determine If I Have Been Exposed To Mold
Some physicians have recommended testing for mold-specific antibodies. Thepresence of antibodies only indicates that you have been exposed to a substanceat some time. It does not tell you when you were exposed, where the exposuretook place, or how much of the mold you were exposed to. Having a positive testfor mold-specific antibodies alone is generally considered insufficient toprove that health effects reported by individuals in moisture-damaged buildingsare caused by exposure to mold.
Could My Rash Be Something Besides An Allergic Reaction
There are several options for rashes besides an allergic reaction, let alone an allergic reaction to mold. Some other forms of skin conditions that may be the source of your discomfort include:
If you feel like your symptoms might be caused by any of these conditions, you can seek a doctors advice online to discuss your rash and any other symptoms you may be having.
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How Can I Prevent An Allergic Reaction To Mold
There is no cure for allergies. But you can reduce your allergy symptoms by avoiding contact with the mold spores. Several measures will help:
Reduce Your Exposure to Mold Spores Outside
- Limit your outdoor activities when mold counts are high. This will lessen the amount of mold spores you inhale and your symptoms.
- Wear a dust mask when cutting grass, digging around plants, picking up leaves and disturbing other plant materials.
Reduce Your Exposure to Mold Spores Inside
- Use central air conditioning with a CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® filter attachment. This can help trap mold spores from your entire home. Freestanding air cleaners only filter air in a limited area. Avoid devices that treat air with heat, electrostatic ions or ozone.
- Lower your indoor humidity. No air cleaners will help if excess moisture remains. If indoor humidity is above 50%, fungi will thrive. A hygrometer is a tool used to measure humidity. The goal is to keep humidity below 45%, but below 35% is better. If you have to use a humidifier, clean the fluid reservoir at least twice a week to prevent mold growth. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can also be a source of mold.
- Prevent mold and mildew build up inside the home. Pay close attention to mold in bathrooms, basements and laundry areas. Be aggressive about reducing dampness.
To Reduce Mold in Your Bathrooms:
To Reduce Mold in Your Kitchen:
To Reduce Mold in Your Laundry Area:
To Reduce Mold in Your Bedrooms:
To Reduce Mold in Your Basement:
Can Toxic Mold Exposure Cause Skin Rashes
In short, yes.
Allergic reactions come about when a person’s immune system overreacts to a minimally harmful substance , producing large quantities of antibodies and other chemicals to destroy the substance and protect the body from this perceived threat. The allergic reaction causes swelling, inflammation, and irritation of the skin. In more severe cases, this swelling can occur in the throat, impeding breathing and creating a life-threatening situation. While the swelling of the throat is a rarer occurrence in relation to toxic mold exposure, rashes and hives are not at all uncommon.
A rash from toxic mold exposure can be very itchy and it’s hard not to scratch – but beware. Excessive scratching often breaks the skin and allows an infection to set in. Signs of infection include swelling, redness, warmth to the touch, fever, increased levels of pain, and discharge.
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