Outdoor Mold Allergy: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Wyndly Care Team
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Can outdoor mold make you sick?

Yes, outdoor mold can make you sick. It releases spores into the air that when inhaled can cause health issues such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, skin rash (allergic reactions), and asthma attacks. Those with mold allergies or compromised immune systems are particularly at risk.

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What Is a Mold Allergy?

A mold allergy refers to an immune response that occurs upon exposure to mold spores, resulting in symptoms including sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, and respiratory issues. Mold allergies can be triggered by both indoor and outdoor molds, with the severity of symptoms varying among individuals.

Different Types of Mold Allergy

There are numerous types of mold that can trigger allergic reactions. Some of the most common include Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium. Each type releases spores at different times and in varying conditions, contributing to the duration and severity of allergy symptoms. Here you can find more information on different types of mold allergies.

Indoor and Outdoor Mold Allergy

Indoor mold allergies are typically caused by exposure to molds such as Aspergillus and Penicillium. These molds thrive in damp indoor environments like bathrooms and basements. On the other hand, outdoor mold allergies are often triggered by outdoor molds like Alternaria and Cladosporium, prevalent in soil, compost piles, and rotting leaves. Both indoor and outdoor mold allergies can cause year-round symptoms, but outdoor molds may cause more pronounced symptoms during warm, humid weather.

What Causes a Mold Allergy?

A mold allergy is caused by an immune system reaction to mold spores that are inhaled. The immune system misidentifies these airborne spores as harmful intruders and releases antibodies to combat them. This reaction releases histamines, causing allergy symptoms. The specific cause varies and can be influenced by factors like genetic predisposition and environmental exposure.

Mold spores are ubiquitous both indoors and outdoors, making it impossible to completely avoid exposure. Indoor mold typically thrives in humid, damp environments like bathrooms, basements, and kitchens. Regular cleaning and dehumidification can help control indoor mold and reduce allergy symptoms. More information on how to manage indoor mold allergies can be found here.

Outdoor molds are commonly found in soil, compost piles, and in decaying plant material. The prevalence of mold spores outdoors can vary with the season and weather conditions. Warmer, humid conditions can foster mold growth, and windy weather can disperse mold spores into the air, causing outdoor mold allergies. Further information on managing outdoor mold allergies can be found here.

What Are the Symptoms of a Mold Allergy?

The symptoms of a mold allergy are similar to other respiratory allergies and can include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, dry, itchy skin, and watery, itchy eyes. More severe symptoms, such as wheezing or difficulty breathing, may occur in people with asthma or a severe mold allergy.

Mold allergy symptoms can occur at any time of the year but are usually more common during humid and rainy seasons. Indoor mold may cause year-round allergy symptoms, while outdoor molds may cause symptoms in summer and fall, or even year-round in some warm climates. Extended exposure to mold may lead to more serious conditions like mold-induced asthma.

It's important to note that the severity and type of symptoms can vary widely from person to person. Some people may experience only mild irritation, while others may have severe allergic reactions. If you suspect you have a mold allergy, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan. To learn more about mold allergies, their causes, symptoms, and treatment, visit here.

How to Diagnose a Mold Allergy?

Diagnosing a mold allergy typically involves a combination of a medical history evaluation, physical examination, and allergy testing. The first step is usually a detailed discussion with your healthcare provider about your symptoms and their timing.

A skin prick test or a blood test, such as the ImmunoCAP, can be performed to identify specific allergies. In a skin prick test, a small amount of mold allergen is pricked into the skin and the area is observed for a reaction. A positive reaction, usually a raised bump or hives, indicates a mold allergy.

If skin testing is not possible or inconclusive, a blood test might be performed. This measures the amount of specific antibodies, called IgE antibodies, your body makes in response to mold allergens. Higher levels of these antibodies can indicate a mold allergy. However, these tests are not infallible and results should always be interpreted alongside your symptoms and medical history.

It's important to note that diagnosing a mold allergy can be challenging due to the ubiquitous presence of mold and the similarity of symptoms to other conditions. Therefore, it's crucial to consult with an allergy specialist to confirm the diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan. For more information on mold allergies and their diagnosis, visit here.

What Are the Treatments for a Mold Allergy?

Treatment for a mold allergy typically includes a combination of avoidance strategies, medications, and immunotherapy. Your health care provider will recommend the best treatment plan based on your specific symptoms, the severity of your allergy, and your overall health.


Medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal corticosteroids, are often used to manage mold allergy symptoms. Antihistamines block the action of histamine, a compound your body releases during an allergic reaction. Decongestants can help relieve nasal congestion, while nasal corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the nasal passages.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is another effective treatment for mold allergies. SLIT involves placing a tablet containing a small amount of the allergen under the tongue. Over time, this can help your immune system become less sensitive to the allergen, reducing your allergic reactions. According to Wyndly, SLIT is a convenient and effective alternative to allergy shots, especially for those who cannot tolerate or do not respond to traditional allergy medications.

However, treatment success varies among individuals, and it's important to remember that while these treatments can help manage symptoms, they do not cure mold allergies. Therefore, strategies to limit mold exposure and prevent mold growth are crucial components of an effective mold allergy management plan.

How to Limit Mold Exposure?

Limiting mold exposure is critical in managing mold allergies. It involves reducing both indoor and outdoor sources of mold in your environment. Here are some strategies that can help you limit your exposure to mold.

Indoor Mold Control

Indoor mold control involves maintaining a dry and clean living environment. Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels below 50%. Regularly clean bathrooms, kitchens, and basements where mold is likely to grow. Proper ventilation is vital, particularly in areas prone to dampness like bathrooms and kitchens. Keep your household plants under control as they can harbor mold in their soil. Be sure to fix any leaks in your home promptly to prevent mold growth.

Outdoor Mold Reduction

Outdoor mold is harder to control, but there are steps you can take to limit your exposure. During mold season, keep windows and doors closed, use air conditioning, and avoid outdoor activities on high mold count days. When doing yard work, consider wearing a mask as suggested in this guide.

Remember, while it's impossible to completely eliminate exposure to mold spores, these strategies can significantly reduce your exposure and alleviate your mold allergy symptoms.

How to Prevent a Mold Allergy?

Preventing a mold allergy involves proactive measures to limit exposure to mold spores. It is essential to maintain a clean, dry environment and adhere to specific practices to mitigate mold growth and spore release indoors and outdoors.

Indoor Mold Prevention

To prevent mold allergies indoors, ensure your home is well-ventilated and dry. Regularly clean damp areas like bathrooms and kitchens. Use a dehumidifier to maintain humidity below 50%. Fix any leaks promptly to prevent dampness that encourages mold growth. Incorporate mold-resistant products and materials in your home, especially in areas prone to moisture.

Outdoor Mold Prevention

To prevent mold allergies outdoors, avoid areas prone to mold, like compost piles and wooded areas. During high mold seasons, keep windows and doors closed and use air conditioning to filter out mold spores. Consider wearing a mask during yard work or when in mold-prone areas.

While it's impossible to completely prevent a mold allergy, these measures can help mitigate the risk. For more tips on preventing mold exposure and treating your mold allergy symptoms, refer to this guide.

When Should You See a Doctor for a Mold Allergy?

You should seek medical advice for a mold allergy if over-the-counter (OTC) remedies don't relieve your symptoms, or if these symptoms persist and interfere with your daily activities or sleep. Also, if you experience severe reactions like difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis, seek immediate medical attention.

Persistent or Worsening Symptoms

If your mold allergy symptoms persist despite using OTC medications or they worsen over time, it's time to consult a doctor. Chronic symptoms can lead to complications such as sinusitis or asthma, making it crucial to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Severe Allergic Reactions

Severe allergic reactions to mold, like difficulty breathing, chest tightness, or anaphylaxis, require immediate medical attention. These may indicate a more serious condition that needs urgent treatment.

A healthcare provider can provide a comprehensive treatment approach for mold allergies, including prescription medications, lifestyle changes, and in some cases, immunotherapy. To learn more about mold allergies, their causes, symptoms, and treatment options, visit Wyndly's comprehensive guide on mold allergies.

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If you want long-term relief from your allergies, Wyndly can help. Our doctors will help you identify your allergy triggers and create a personalized treatment plan to get you the lifelong relief you deserve. Start by taking our quick online allergy assessment today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does mold sickness feel like?

Mold sickness, or mold exposure, can mimic common allergy symptoms. It can cause sneezing, runny or blocked nose, itchy, red or watery eyes, and skin rashes. In more severe cases, it may lead to shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, and persistent cough.

What symptoms can a mold allergy cause?

Mold allergies can cause symptoms that are similar to other respiratory allergies. These include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, cough and postnasal drip, itchy or watery eyes, itchy throat or skin, and wheezing or difficulty breathing in severe cases.

Can you be allergic to mold outside?

Yes, it is possible to be allergic to outdoor mold. Exposure to mold spores in the environment can trigger an allergic reaction, resulting in symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, and skin rashes. In severe cases, it may even lead to asthma attacks.

How do I know if my allergies are from mold?

Mold allergy symptoms mirror those of other allergies, including sneezing, itching, runny nose, congestion, and dry, scaling skin. However, mold allergies can also trigger asthma symptoms. If your symptoms persist in damp environments or change with seasons, mold could be the allergen source.

What are the side effects of being around mold?

Exposure to mold can lead to allergy-like symptoms including sneezing, runny or blocked nose, red, itchy or watery eyes, and skin rashes. Prolonged exposure can lead to more serious respiratory problems, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Mold can also worsen asthma symptoms.

What medication is used for outdoor mold allergy?

For outdoor mold allergies, antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, and decongestants are commonly used. Antihistamines reduce runny nose, itching and sneezing. Nasal corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the nasal passage. Decongestants are used for temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Always consult a healthcare provider before taking medication.

How long do mold allergy symptoms last after exposure?

Mold allergy symptoms can last for as long as you're exposed to the mold spores. Once the exposure stops, symptoms usually subside within a few hours but can linger for a few days in some cases. Chronic exposure may lead to long-term or recurrent symptoms.

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