That skin rash of yours that seems to show up every spring…
It could be a sign that you’ve been exposed to mold.
At long last, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recognized that mold can cause a variety of negative health effects. Those strange symptoms you’ve been experiencing – nasal congestion, throat irritation, eye irritation, and skin rashes – they’re not in your head. They’re caused by mold in your environment.(1)
Finally, those of you suffering from mold illness could receive some help from conventional medicine.
How your home could be the cause of your skin rashes
It should come as no surprise that the air inside your home is full of pollens, dust, fungi, molds, and protozoa. These contaminants make their way from the outdoors through open doors, windows, and vents. It’s a completely normal process.
While I’m sure having these in your house is not ideal, it is incredibly common. But what isn’t common inside your home is dampness. The World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that dampness was a reliable and consistent indicator of adverse health effects.
Dampness is linked to an increase in mold growth, physical and chemical degradation, and the release of chemicals released from whatever surface is damaged from water. (2)
If there was one thing that aggravated both your skin rashes and the air quality in your home, it would be dampness.
Don’t assume that your home is safe! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 50% of all buildings in the United States are water damaged. (3, 4) That includes both residential and commercial buildings.
Your eyes and nose are not the most reliable methods for discerning water damage in a building. All too often, dampness and the resulting mold growth occur in areas you can’t see. This includes parts of your home like attics, crawl spaces, or HVAC systems.
To accurately discern whether your home has water damage, you need specialized testing. I go into detail about how to accurately test your home for mold here.
Enough about your home. Let’s discuss how mold affects your skin!
Mold’s effect on your skin (and other body systems)
The symptoms connected to mold illness are a mile long. And if you include the condition known as Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) 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: (5)
- Nasal congestion
- Throat irritation
- 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. (6) Another meta-analysis found that mold had consistent positive associations with multiple allergic and respiratory effects (including skin rashes). (7)
I think it’s 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 you’re searching for!
What does mold do to your skin?
Do you know how acne is typically treated?
In conventional medical settings, antibiotics, like tetracycline, are the first line of treatment. (8)
Why would you use something that affects your gut – like antibiotics – to treat your skin?
The gut-skin connection, that’s why. The health of your skin is strongly connected to the health of your gut.
In the early ’90s and ’00s, a medication known as Accutane was commonly prescribed for moderate to severe acne. And boy did it work well at clearing up acne. But it had an intense side-effect… Accutane was strongly associated with causing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). (9)
Other connections between your gut and your skin can be seen through the lens of a leaking gut. One study showed that patients with acne had elevated levels of something called lipopolysaccharides (LPS). (10) LPS is a common marker used to determine if you have a leaky gut.
Celiac disease can manifest as a condition known as dermatitis herpetiformis (DH). More than 10% of celiac disease manifests this way. In DH, patients will often have zero symptoms commonly associated with celiac disease – bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, etc. Instead, the most common symptom is an incredibly itchy rash on your skin.
I reference the above gut issues to illustrate that skin rashes are not always a result of your skin coming into contact with a known allergen. Yes, if you brush up against poison ivy, you’re going to get a rash on your skin. But in the context of mold, having it touch your skin is not often the cause of skin rashes.
Instead, skin rashes from mold will often result from an internal infection. The majority of the time, you won’t even know you’ve been exposed to mold. You’ll just experience a skin rash and be unsure where it came from.
If you’re dealing with an unexplained skin rash, follow these two steps:
- Test your home for mold
- Make an appointment with an allergist to test you for a mold allergy
If you are indeed allergic to mold, a skin prick test measuring your IgE immune system response will likely test positive. Other immune system tests like IgG and IgM can also point in the direction of a mold allergy.
What to do if you think mold is causing your skin rashes?
Regardless of what your mold symptom(s) may be, the first step in treatment is to remove yourself from the water-damaged building. Test your home and your workplace to determine if either building has been water-damaged. I go into the details of how to properly test for mold in this blog post.
For 75% of the population, the simple act of removing yourself from the moldy environment will improve your skin rashes. The other 25% of the population possesses a specific gene – more info on moldy genes here – that prevents their body’s from expelling the mold toxins. (11)
Those of you with the moldy genes will need a far more involved treatment plan to alleviate your skin rashes. Working with a mold-literate practitioner will be absolutely essential!
Now, I want to hear from you!
What effect did mold have on your skin?
Leave your answers in the comments section below!
Also published on Medium.