There are more than 300,000 types of fungi in the world. They include everything from athlete’s foot to mushrooms.
Mold is one type of fungi that commonly lives in moist parts of your home. You may have seen it growing around your windows, pipes, or near your roof.
It may also grow in your basement or other parts of your house that don’t have great air circulation.
Mold is a common cause of allergy. It produces spores that can trigger an allergic reaction when you breathe them in. Symptoms may include:
- stuffy nose
- general allergy symptoms
Rashes caused by exposure to mold can be hard to differentiate from other types of rashes. Let’s examine what these rashes look like and what you can do to treat them.
A rash caused by mold exposure resembles other types of rashes caused by allergic reactions. It’s unlikely that you or a doctor will be able to diagnosis a mold rash just by looking at it.
Some common symptoms of these rashes include:
- dry and scaly skin
- raw and sensitive skin
- brown or pink skin
- small raised bumps that may leak fluid
Mold reproduces by creating tiny spores that are carried through the air.
When you breathe in these spores, they can trigger an allergic reaction, meaning your immune system overreacts.
This overreaction leads to the production of antibodies, inflammation, and a variety of nonspecific symptoms that can include a rash.
It isn’t clear why some people have allergies and others don’t, but many allergic reactions run in families.
Mold can cause a variety of types of rashes. A doctor may be able to diagnose a mold allergy from your symptoms and by reviewing your medical history.
If the doctor suspects that you may have a mold allergy, they’ll likely perform several tests, including a blood test or skin prick test.
An allergen-specific immunoglobin E test can help a doctor determine if you’re allergic to mold or something else.
Immunoglobin E is a type of antibody that your immune system makes when you have an allergy. Your body makes a unique type of this antibody for each substance you’re allergic to.
If you’re allergic to mold, the results will show that you have an elevated numbers of mold-specific antibodies.
Skin prick test
A skin prick test can check for as many as 50 kinds of allergic reactions at once. It’s commonly used to identify a mold or pollen allergy. It’s usually performed on your forearm.
During the test, a nurse will clean your skin with an alcohol swab and apply a drop of each allergen being tested onto your arm using a lancet.
They’ll then apply histamine, glycerin, or saline to your skin. After about 15 minutes, the nurse will check your skin for signs of an allergic reaction.
If you have a rash caused by mold exposure, it’s important to remove yourself from the source of the mold to prevent further reactions.
The following may be used to treat your mold rash:
- Antihistamines. Benadryl and other over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines may help relieve symptoms of your allergic reaction.
- Cortisone creams. Cortisone creams are available by prescription or OTC. These creams help manage swelling, redness, and itchiness.
- Antibiotics. Itchy rashes commonly become infected from scratching. If you develop an infection, antibiotics may help treat it.
- Moisturizers. Moisturizers may help soothe dry and itchy skin.
Many home remedies may also help alleviate your itchy rash, such as:
- Aloe vera. Applying aloe vera helps soothe itchy rashes.
- Cold compress. Applying a damp cloth or paper towel on the rash may help reduce itchiness and swelling.
- Oatmeal bath. Soaking in an oatmeal bath, with about a cup of powdered oatmeal dissolved in a lukewarm water, may help soothe your rash.
It’s a good idea to see a doctor if you’re not sure if your rash is caused by mold or something else. The doctor can order an allergy test that can either confirm your allergy or help you find the cause of your rash.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the following situations warrant a visit to a dermatologist or primary care doctor:
- the rash covers your entire body
- you have a fever
- the rash spreads rapidly
- the rash blisters
- the rash is painful
- the rash becomes infected
The symptoms of a mold allergy are similar to the symptoms of other allergies. The severity of your mold reaction can depend on your level of sensitivity and how much mold you’re exposed to.
Other symptoms of a mold allergy include:
Continuous exposure to mold has been linked to several potential health complications, including:
- worsening asthma symptoms
- upper respiratory illness
- lung inflammation
There have also been case reports of mold exposure being associated with memory loss or bleeding in the lungs.
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People who are allergic to mold can develop a rash on their skin and experience other general symptoms of an allergic reaction.
If you suspect you have a mold allergy, it’s a good idea to clean any visible mold from your home. You can visit a doctor to get an allergy test to confirm your mold allergy.