Is household mold causing your skin problems?

You have mold in your house. Everyone does. The spores are microscopic. If you have food, you have mold. There’s mold in your refrigerator, collecting on old leftovers. Famously, penicillin was made from bread mold. Here’s how you can make your own when the Zombie Apocalypse happens (tee hee.)

Most people are unaffected by low levels of typical household molds. But, for some people, molds complicate their skin problems. PennJersey Builders Services sent me this interesting post about when household mold makes skin conditions worse. People whose immune systems are compromised are susceptible to mold and fungi infections, some skin infections can be invaded by mold — making them worse, and some infections are caused by mold or allergies to mold.

cleanPrevention/reduction: Dry your house out, by using a dehumidifier; it helps. Find sources of dampness from leaks or puddling areas; remove them. Clean with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, especially in the refrigerator. Avoid using porous materials in damp areas. I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago.

Now, about skin and mold, from the PennJersey Builders Services blog:

Nummular eczema

This form of eczema is often mistaken for ringworm. The lesions are disk-shaped and red, sometimes crusted. The presence of mold on the skin often worsens this condition, because mold on skin changes the kinds of microbes that commonly grow there. This skin ailment is very difficult to treat, and tends to become chronic in certain individuals. The reason for the tendency to this disease is unknown, because all humans come in contact with molds. Dry, broken skin seems to precipitate the condition and possible mold invasion.

dyshidrotic_eczema_hand_2Dyshidrotic eczema

An allergy to molds causes this condition. It is characterized by small itchy blisters on the palms of the hands. Some people develop blisters on the feet, and about 10 percent of sufferers have blisters on both hands and feet. Drying skin causes cracks and sometimes bleeding. The disorder is thought to be a histamine reaction to yeast or airborne molds. Nystatin, a common treatment for candida albicans, is the best course for this disease. Having a home checked and professionally cleaned for mold eradication is recommended.


Sporotrichosis is a skin infection caused by fungus. This particular fungus is very closely related to mold, especially the kind found on moldy bread. Mold spores are the origins of this disease. The spores can be hosted in damp floor joists and crawl spaces of houses. They are often pushed under the skin through contact with hay, soil, thorns or mosses. Sometimes cats or armadillos carry the disease and transmit it to humans. When the spores enter the skin it may take months for the disease to develop. A pink or purple, hard nodule on the skin is a first symptom. In time, this ulcerates and drains. If not treated, the nodule can ulcerate and drain for years.

In 60 percent of cases the mold enters the lymph glands. Then new ulcers spread, following the line of the lymph nodes under the skin. Very rarely, the mold spores infect bones, joints, brain and lungs, especially in those who are immune compromised. This infection is very difficult to treat, especially if it has invaded the lymph system. The drugs considered are Sporanox initially and intravenous Amphotericin. Treatment may take a year. Followup visits are necessary to make sure the disease is eradicated. Preventing Sporotrichosis through wearing gloves when working outside and proper covering when entering damp areas like crawl spaces is imperative.

Sensitivity to molds

Those sensitive to molds should attempt to control household mold growth by controlling levels of humidity in places like showers and kitchens. If mold growth has occurred, it can be removed from hard surfaces with a three percent hydrogen peroxide concentration or soap and water. Soak the moldy surface in the peroxide solution for ten minutes. Then scrub and wipe off. Vinegar is a good antidote to mold, as well. If a person is sensitive to molds, a professional clean may be beneficial to avoid the risk of exposure.

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