How to Treat Health Problems from Mold

Three Methods:Treating Respiratory ProblemsSoothing Irritated SkinReducing Mold Problems at Home

Mold spores travel through the air and lodge themselves in your lungs, where they can make you sick and miserable. Allergic reactions — including a runny nose, itchy eyes, or wheezing – are bad enough, but exposure to mold can also trigger asthma attacks and even infect the lungs of people whose immune systems are weakened by serious illnesses. [1] A mold problem can also cause severe skin irritations, especially in people with existing dermatological conditions. Treating the symptoms of these complications can reduce your body's reaction to the mold, but it won't solve the problem. If you've been exposed to mold you should get evaluated by a doctor and have the mold removed from your home or work environment as soon as possible.

Method 1
Treating Respiratory Problems

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    See your doctor. If you're experiencing health problems caused by mold exposure, it's important that you seek medical help as soon as possible. Your doctor will run tests, assess your symptoms, and recommend a treatment plan that most likely includes medication.[2]
    • Your doctor may run tests to check for allergies, including a skin prick test and a blood test.
    • Call ahead to find out if there are any restrictions for your appointment. For example, your doctor may instruct you to discontinue any allergy medication in the days leading up to your appointment.[3]
    • Follow your doctor's instructions. Take any medication that you're given and make follow-up appointments as needed.
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    Try over-the-counter medication. The best way to alleviate respiratory ailments caused by mold is to use medication. You can find over-the-counter (OTC) medications at your local pharmacy, though you may need prescription-strength medicine from your doctor.[4]
    • OTC antihistamines like loratadine (Claritin), fexofenadine (Allegra), and cetirizine (Zyrtec) may help reduce some of your symptoms.
    • OTC nasal corticosteroids like ciclesonide (Omnaris), fluticasone (Flonase), and mometasone (Nasonex) can help reduce respiratory inflammation and are available. Common side effects include dry nostrils and nosebleeds.
    • OTC decongestant nasal sprays like oxymetazoline (Afrin) help reduce stuffiness, but they should not be used for more than three or four days or your symptoms may worsen. Common side effects include headaches, insomnia, and nervousness.
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    Take prescription medications. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may recommend prescription-strength medications.[5] You should follow your doctor's instructions and adhere to the dosing schedule written on your prescription.
    • Prescription-strength antihistamines like azelastine (Astelin, Astepro) and olopatadine (Patanase) may help relieve some of your symptoms.
    • Montelukast (Singulair) is a prescription-strength medication that can help suppress your immune system's response to allergens like mold.
    • Prescription-strength antifungal medications like voriconazole or caspofungin may be used to treat aggressive, invasive pulmonary mold problems.[6]
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    Try immunotherapy. In immunotherapy, your doctor will administer a series of allergy shots to reduce your symptoms. However, immunotherapy can only be used for certain types of mold problems. Talk to your doctor if you think immunotherapy might be right for you.[7]
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    Irrigate your sinuses. Irrigating your sinuses with a saline rinse can help flush out environmental irritants (such as mold spores) and soothe your irritated, inflamed nostrils and sinus cavity.[8] Nasal irrigation can be performed every day to help relieve the symptoms caused by your mold problem.
    • You should only irrigate your sinuses with a squeeze bottle, bulb syringe, or neti pot designed to be used exclusively for nasal/sinus treatment.
    • Only use distilled or sterile water. You can also boil and cool water, or use a filter with a pore size smaller than one micron to ensure that no microorganisms are present.
    • Mix three large teaspoons of canning salt and one rounded teaspoon of baking soda.[9] This will provide you with enough saline mix to make several batches of the nasal solution.
    • Add between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon of saline mix to 1/2 cup (four ounces) of warm distilled or sterile water. Stir until it is completely dissolved, then administer it using your bottle, bulb syringe, or neti pot.

Method 2
Soothing Irritated Skin

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    Take antihistamines. Antihistamines work by reducing your body's allergic reaction to an irritant (in this case, mold). They may or may not be paired with a decongestant to reduce nasal stuffiness. You can purchase antihistamines without a prescription at most pharmacies and drug stores.[10]
    • Antihistamines (including OTC antihistamines) should never be given to anyone under two years of age, as they may cause life-threatening problems in young children.[11]
    • Antihistamines may have negative interactions with certain medications or if used by people who have certain medical conditions.[12] Talk to your doctor before taking antihistamines, even if they are OTC medications.
    • Common side effects include drowsiness and thick secretions from the respiratory system. However, some rare, more serious side effects have been reported in some individuals.[13]
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    Use topical creams and ointments. Topical medications like creams, lotions, and ointments may help alleviate the symptoms of skin irritation. These medications come in both prescription-strength and over-the-counter formulas.[14]
    • Your doctor may prescribe a steroid cream, an antifungal cream, or some other type of topical treatment.
    • You can also use over-the-counter cortisone (steroidal) cream to reduce inflammation and irritation.
    • Treat rashes and itchy, irritated skin at home using over-the-counter moisturizers.
    • Choose a topical cream, ointment, or lotion that has a low alcohol content and is designed for people with eczema, as these will be more gentle on your skin.
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    Prevent skin damage. If you have a skin rash or irritation caused by mold, the intense itchiness will cause you to scratch excessively at the affected area. It's important to take some basic steps to reduce the risk of breaking your skin as you scratch, since this could lead to an infection and further irritation.[15]
    • Keep your fingernails trimmed short to avoid scratching your skin too hard.
    • If you scratch in your sleep, consider wearing light fabric gloves to protect your skin.

Method 3
Reducing Mold Problems at Home

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    Improve the air quality in your home. Even if there aren't any leaks in your home, you may still develop mold problems if the air is very damp. This may be particularly problematic in wet, humid environments. One way to reduce this problem is by improving your home's air quality to produce a cooler, drier environment.[16]
    • Use a dehumidifier to pull moisture out of the air. Try to keep your home's level of humidity under 50 percent, and be sure to clean out the dehumidifier on a regular basis (every day, if you can).
    • Use air conditioning in your home, ideally with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. You should also change the filters in your air conditioner and furnace on a regular basis.
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    Close your windows at night. Your home may not have a mold problem, but if you sleep with your windows open you may be exposing yourself to outdoor mold spores. Because the air tends to be cooler and damper at night than during the day, mold spore concentrations are typically highest in the air at night.[17]
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    Wear protective gear when you clean. If you know you will be encountering a mold problem, wear a dust mask that completely covers your nose and mouth and disposable protective gloves. This will help prevent mold spores from entering your airways or irritating your skin.[18]
    • Use protective gear if you intend to clean an existing mold problem, fix a damp/wet environment in your home, or do yard work after a lot of precipitation.
    • You can purchase protective gear at most home improvement stores or through an online retailer.
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    Avoid exposure to airborne mold spores. Some people with severe reactions to mold may need to limit their exposure to outdoor air when mold spore concentrations are at their highest. If at all possible, limit outdoor time on those days and try to avoid strenuous activity as much as you can.[19]
    • Most weather reports include a mold count for the day. This can tell you what the expected prevalence of airborne mold spores will be for a given day.
    • Check your region's mold counts and limit or avoid outdoor activities on days when the mold count is high.
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    Clean up existing mold. If your home has any mold, you'll need to act fast before it gets worse. Treating the health problems caused by mold will only reduce your symptoms; the only way to solve the problem permanently is to remove the mold from your home. Depending on the severity of your mold problem, you may be able to get rid of it by cleaning your home, repairing leaks, and removing damaged items. However, really invasive mold problems may require professional cleaning and mold removal.
    • You can find professionals who work with mold by checking your local phone book or by searching online.
    • If you or someone you know does not have a known mold allergy, you may be able to clean up a small mold patch on your own. Be sure to wear proper protection: protective eyewear, a breathing mask, and rubber gloves.
    • You can purchase a commercial cleaning product designed to treat mold, or mix one ounce (29.5 milliliters) of bleach in one quart (0.95 milliliters) of water.[20]
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    Prevent mold from growing. When it comes to mold, it's best to take preventative measures and reduce the chances of developing a problem in the first place. You can do this by reducing the moisture levels in your home and cleaning or removing objects that have grown mold.[21]
    • Clean your shower and/or bathtub on a regular basis. Mildew and mold can quickly build on the walls and curtains of your shower if left unattended.
    • Fix any leaky pipes or water seepages immediately and clean up any standing water or condensation. Dampness, especially in cool, dark areas like a basement, can quickly lead to mold growth.
    • Get rid of old paper products, particularly newspapers and books. Leaving these items in a damp environment like your basement can cause mold to develop very quickly.


  • Don’t try to live with mold in your home. Mold is a serious health risk that must be cleaned up, or you risk more serious health problems over time.
  • Carpeting in damp or dark rooms is a recipe for rampant mold growth, so make sure carpets are always clean and dry. Consider ripping up wall-to-wall carpeting in rooms prone to moisture, such as basements and bathrooms.
  • Infants/children and the elderly are especially sensitive to health problems caused by breathing mold spores, so minimize exposure as much as possible for these groups of people.

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Categories: Respiratory Health