What is mould?
Mould is a type of fungus – a group of living things that includes mushrooms and yeast. There are lots of different types of mould that occur naturally in the environment – we even eat some of them! Moulds live pretty much anywhere on plant and animal matter, both outdoors and indoors, but their favourite places to grow are areas that are damp and poorly ventilated – like your bathroom. Moulds reproduce by making tiny spores that float around in the air before landing on damp surfaces to grow and spread.
Mould effects on health
Allergy to mould
A mould allergy occurs when your immune system has an unusually strong response to mould and mould spores, triggering symptoms of an allergic reaction. This reaction can happen immediately after exposure to mould or can be more of a delayed response. Not all moulds cause allergies and people may be allergic to one type of mould but not others.
Symptoms of mould exposure
Exposure to mould and mould allergy can cause many of the same symptoms that you get with other types of allergies. Mould exposure symptoms include:
- Runny or blocked nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy nose and throat
- Dry skin
Mould allergy symptoms can be different for different people and may only occur at certain times of the year or when the weather is extra damp. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about the health effects of mould.
For people who have had condition that affects their breathing diagnosed by their doctor, exposure to mould spores may worsen symptoms or trigger sudden breathing difficulties such as coughing or wheezing. Seek medical care if you think mould may be causing your symptoms or making them worse.
Mould allergy testing
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may discuss the option of performing a skin prick test or a blood test to determine whether you have an allergy to mould.
Signs of mould
Mould is not always obvious – it can look soft and fuzzy or appear as a smudge or stain on surfaces. Moulds can come in lots of different colours but most often are black, green, or white. Inside your home, mould can grow on just about any surface – walls, wooden furniture, bathroom tiles, carpets, curtains, boxes, books, clothes, toys, you name it!
Mould needs the right amount of surface moisture and air humidity to grow. While indoor mould is common with flood damage and leaking roofs, walls, or plumbing, it can also grow because of everyday activities that cause condensation to form – think cooking, hot showers, and wet clothes hanging inside. Mould is also more likely to grow in areas where air does not flow well, such as inside cupboards and on walls behind furniture.
How to get rid of mould at home
If you spot mould in your home, try to get rid of it as soon as possible – and then take steps to stop it from coming back! To clean surface mould, try some easy home remedies such as a mild detergent or a mix of 4 parts vinegar with 1 part water. For more stubborn mould, check for recommended techniques that could include using a diluted bleach solution (250 mL bleach in 4 litres of water). Always wear protective clothing including rubber gloves, safety glasses, shoes, and a face mask when removing mould, and open windows and doors to ensure good ventilation. Soft items such as carpets may need professional cleaning or replacing.
How to prevent mould
The best way to prevent mould from growing in your home is to reduce moisture on surfaces and in the air.
- Control dampness – repair any leaks in your roof or plumbing; clean and completely dry, or throw away, anything that gets water damage
- Get air circulating – open windows and doors, move furniture away from walls
- Minimise condensation – use exhaust fans or open windows when showering and cooking, and wipe down surfaces afterwards to remove any water
- Reduce humidity – limit the use of humidifiers and consider using a dehumidifier
How to manage mould allergy symptoms
While it’s best to avoid exposure to mould in the first place, it’s not possible to avoid moulds completely. If you do experience symptoms of mould allergy, consider an antihistamine to help relieve the symptoms associated with the allergic reaction. DEMAZIN Allergy + Hayfever Relief contains the antihistamine loratadine to offer rapid, non-drowsy relief from allergy symptoms including sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, and rash or hives for up to 24 hours.
Mould Allergy FAQs
A mould allergy can occur when the immune system reacts strongly when exposed to mould or mould spores and triggers symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Similar to other allergies, mould exposure symptoms can include sneezing, a runny or blocked nose, coughing, itchy nose or throat, itchy watery eyes, and dry skin.
Try cleaning mouldy surfaces with mild detergent, diluted vinegar solution, or diluted bleach solution, and remember to wear protective gear while cleaning. Taking steps to reduce the moisture and humidity in your home is important to help prevent mould from returning.
It’s best to avoid mould exposure when you can, but an antihistamine such as DEMAZIN Allergy + Hayfever Relief can help provide rapid, non-drowsy, 24-hour relief from allergy symptoms if they do occur.