Mold and mildew growing around the home can be more than just an eyesore. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates there are anywhere from 50 to 100 different indoor molds that can wreck havoc on your health. Those who are elderly, frail, or who suffer from other conditions are most at risk, but everyone should be aware of the potential dangers mold and mildew pose.
Allergic reactions are just one of the many dangers of mold and mildew. Even folks who would not normally be allergic to anything can eventually have a reaction to mold and mildew after repeated exposure. The allergic reactions may show up in a variety of symptoms and may take up to six hours after exposure to surface. Some include congestion or a runny nose, watery or burning eyes, sneezing, skin rashes, fatigue, headache, and symptoms that mimic the flu.
Mold and mildew can also cause asthma. This is especially true for those who are prone to allergic reactions to a number of different substances. Asthma is a disease that affects the nose, throat, sinuses, lungs, and other airways. The throat and other airways will become inflamed, making it difficult to breathe. People may begin to wheeze, cough, and feel like they are suffocating. For those who already suffer from asthma, the condition can be made much worse by exposure to mildew and mold.
In addition to the rashes that show up as an allergic reaction, mold and mildew can lead to a number of other skin conditions. Dyshidrotic eczema, which is uncommon but very uncomfortable, is one of those conditions. Itchy little bumps, blisters, and cracks in the skin may show up on the palms of the hands. Symptoms usually get worse at night and during warm weather.
Another skin condition caused by exposure to mold and mildew is nummular eczema. This type of eczema is marked by large lesions, about the shape of a coin, that show up mainly on the limbs but can spread to the center of the body. The lesions will often become pus-filled, oozy, or covered in a scabby crust. They will also itch. The skin may also become scaly, red, raw, or inflamed. The symptoms may also resemble an infestation of ringworm.
A host of other ill effects can also spring from mold and mildew. Any number of different bodily tissues could become irritated, from the skin cells to the lung's interior. Infections are more likely to set in after prolonged exposure, as mold and mildew are known to weaken the immune system. Certain types of molds, such as those known as mycotoxins, can be incredibly damaging and even fatal after repeated exposure or in conjunction with conditions that already weaken an individual, such as malnourishment, alcohol or drug abuse, or old age.