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Types of Mold: Cladosporium

Did you know there are over 100,000 different types of mold? When thinking in the context of household mold we often categorize the mold we see into colors in order to identify or explain the issues we are having. It goes much deeper than color! When we talk about types of mold that fall in the category of toxic, there are 5 to be concerned about: Cladosporium, Penicilium, Fusarium, Aspergillus, and Stachybotrys. In this article, we are going to talk specifically about Cladosporium.

cladosporium - homebiotic

WHAT IS CLADOSPORIUM?

Cladosporium is one of the most common species of mold found in houses and in the outdoors. They grow on almost any organic surface such as food, soil, plants, paint, textiles, and wood. They are rapidly growing and take on a cotton-like or fluffy brown appearance. There are over 700 varieties of Cladosporium species. Some species prey on plants, whereas other species act as parasites on other fungal microbes. Some species may cause physical health symptoms in people who are sensitive to mold and fungus.

black mold on drywall - homebiotic - types of moldWHAT DOES CLADOSPORIUM MOLD LOOK LIKE?

Cladosporium has dark-colored conidia, which looks a lot like plant or tree branches under the microscope. Conidia are one-celled spores that are produced asexually. To the naked eye, Cladosporium looks like a brown-colored fluff or discoloration on wet surfaces. However, depending on where they grow, they may not always be visible. Certain species that grow on plants cause black spots on leaves and stems.

IS CLADOSPORIUM DANGEROUS OR TOXIC?

As with any types of mold species, Cladosporium can cause health problems in people of any age. However, it depends on the immune system and the sensitivity of the individual. Some may not react to Cladosporium at all, while others will develop some allergies. However, some Cladosporium species can cause health emergencies if the spore count is unusually high in the air. People with compromised immune systems may have severe skin, eye, and lung complications when exposed to Cladosporium.

Cladosporium species can cause health emergencies if the spore count is unusually high in the air. People with compromised immune systems may have severe skin, eye, and lung complications when exposed to Cladosporium. Click To Tweet

WHAT ARE CLADOSPORIUM MOLD EXPOSURE SYMPTOMS?

Allergic symptoms can occur with prolonged exposure to Cladosporium species. Often these symptoms occur when exposed to more copious amounts. Again, it depends on the sensitivity and immune system of the individual.

General allergic symptoms can include:

  • Asthma
  • Stuffy nose
  • Cough and wheezing
  • Postnasal drip
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Fungal infections of the sinus, skin, and ears
  • Itchy dry skin

mold on tile - homebiotic - types of moldWHERE IS CLADOSPORIUM FOUND?

Cladosporium species are the most common molds typically found in homes. They can grow on almost any surface where this is a lack of sunlight and ventilation. You can find them in basements, kitchens, bathrooms, and any dark or damp areas of the home. The fuzzy mold found on old family heirlooms, in wine cellars, or old books stacked in the corner are often from the Cladosporium genus.

Cladosporium also has pathogenic plant species for both indoor and outdoor plants. They are also the most abundant mold species found outside. They may destroy new plant sprouts and can cause blackened areas on the leaves of indoor plants.

Cladosporium also has pathogenic plant species for both indoor and outdoor plants. They are also the most abundant mold species found outside. They may destroy new plant sprouts and can cause blackened areas on the leaves of indoor… Click To Tweet

CLADOSPORIUM GROWTH CONDITIONS

Different species of Cladosporium can grow in a wide range of conditions. They thrive on both wet or dry surfaces, which has implications for identification and removal. Although most species are dry, there are a few that can grow on wet surfaces like meat and food. However, the optimal temperature range is between 18-28 degrees celsius.

INTERESTING FACT – Although Cladosporium is not known to produce dangerous mycotoxins, it produces Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) associated with odors. The classic musty smell is a good indicator that Cladosporium species are present.

cleaning sponge - homebiotic

HOW TO REMOVE CLADOSPORIUM MOLD?

Removing embedded Cladosporium clusters may require professional help. Because this species can be found on both wet and dry surfaces, it requires expert knowledge and problem-solving.

Since most Cladosporium species produce a delicate fluff, they can be easily inhaled when disturbed. Although Cladosporium is not considered lethal in the general population, for some people, it can cause severe symptoms. For this reason, removal requires some protective clothing and gear to prevent inhalation and skin exposure.

It’s important to safely remove any types of mold species in your home, even if it’s not considered toxic. Professional mold testing can be invaluable for understanding which mold species are present and where.

It’s critical to understand how to prevent mold from growing back. Keep an eye on the damp areas of your home—particularly areas like windows, plants, basements, and attics. Kitchens and bathrooms are often popular places for mold growth as well. Keep humidity below 50% and make sure there is enough air ventilation. Opening windows or using fans can significantly improve air circulation.


REFERENCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cladosporium

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3390897/

https://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/php/research/2008/marsh/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166061618300095#bib30

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08940630.1987.10466201

 

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5 Must-Have Lyme Disease & Mold Resources

Lyme Disease Testing Supplies - Homebiotic - Must-have lyme disease resources

 

The world of Lyme disease, mold, and mold illness can be a daunting world saturated with a ton of information. Often times too much information is just as difficult as not having enough information. Where do you start? What information is important to you? We have compiled a list of 5 must-have Lyme disease and mold resources to get you started on your journey:

 

tick on flower bud - Homebiotic - lyme disease resourcesUntangling the Lyme/Mold Conundrum – Townsendletter

“Chronic Lyme disease and mycotoxin illness are rapidly becoming more and more intertwined, with many patients suffering greatly from both maladies. It gets incredibly difficult to sort out what is causing what in terms of a patient’s health picture, given the overlap of symptomatology. For patients it is confusing, and for health practitioners it can also make navigating treatment planning very difficult.”

In this article, Nicola McFadzean Ducharme (Naturopathic Doctor, ND) explores commonalities and distinctions between testing and treatment. Testing can be used to determine present variable or stressors, which can then properly guide treatment. This also allows viewing the patient as a whole, creating customized treatment plans to greatly improve the health of the patient.

 


girl drinking tea - Homebiotic - Lyme disease resourcesImprovement of Common Variable Immunodeficiency… – US National Library of Medicine

“Lyme disease is the most common vector‐borne illness in the United States and Europe, as migratory birds, among other factors, are spreading infections, increasing the burden of illness 12. In 2015, CDC researchers reported an estimated 329,000 new cases of Lyme disease in the United States 3, with a 320% increase in the number of counties affected 4. Multi‐systemic symptoms include fevers, fatigue, musculoskeletal, and nerve pain which may be migratory in nature 5, cardiovascular and neuropsychiatric symptoms with cognitive difficulties, and insomnia 6.”

This article outlines a case report looking at a young male with Lyme disease, mold toxicity, and common variable immunodeficiency (CVID). This is the first study of using stem cell therapy to improve Lyme disease and CVID. It’s interesting to note the variety of health issues found in this young man. Namely, he was diagnosed with Lyme, mycotoxicosis, celiac disease, Klebsiella, epstein barr, CVID, and chronic staphylococcus infections. This article shows a clear connection between immune system problems and the development of multiple health issues.

 


Mold growth - Homebiotic - get rid of moldMixed Mold Mycotoxicosis – National Library of Medicine

“The study described was part of a larger multicenter investigation of patients with multiple health complaints attributable to confirmed exposure to mixed-molds infestation in water-damaged buildings. The authors present data on symptoms; clinical chemistries; abnormalities in pulmonary function; alterations in T, B, and natural killer (NK) cells; the presence of autoantibodies (i.e., antinuclear autoantibodies [ANA], autoantibodies against smooth muscle [ASM], and autoantibodies against central nervous system [CNS] and peripheral nervous system [PNS] myelins)”

Although this study looks mainly at mold toxicity and health issues, it reveals a clear connection between mold and the development of immune system dysfunctions. This is relevant for exploring the Lyme and mold connection. Often those with chronic Lyme have immune system dysfunctions due to other issues like mold. Wherever the immune system is affected, there are likely to be multiple health problems and susceptibilities to other diseases.

 


mother holding child's hands - Homebiotic - lyme disease resourcesToxic: Heal your body from Mold Toxicity, Lyme Disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, and Chronic Environmental Illness – Neil Nathan MD (Workshop)

“This workshop is designed for medical practitioners who have MD, DO, ND, NP or PA certification. In this workshop, we will be discussing the presentation of mold toxicity, how to test patients and then step-by-step treatment programs for patients who have a robust constitution and for those who have become more sensitive. We will delve into the finer points of the entire detoxification process, and then dig into the conditions frequently triggered by mold toxicity that often present stumbling blocks in treatment: mast cell activation, limbic dysfunction and vagal nerve dysfunction.”

This book is a complete resource for anyone wanting to understand more about sensitivity versus toxicity. More patients are coming to their doctors with a variety of symptoms that are hard to pin down and diagnose. But on closer inspection, they are often riddled with a variety of illnesses and toxicities ranging from mold illness, Lyme disease, and multiple food and chemical sensitivities. This book breaks down each of these issues and gives practical advice for rebooting the system towards healing.

 


black mold on wall - Homebiotic - lyme disease resourcesWhat’s the Connection Between Toxic Mold and Lyme Disease? – Dr. Jay Davidson

“Many people who suffer with chronic Lyme disease continue experiencing symptoms because something, often times multiple issues, are standing in the way of their recovery. If you have been treated for Lyme, but are still unwell, one of the underlying issues could be toxic mold exposure.”

This article is from a comprehensive website by Dr. Jay Davidson, a leading functional medicine doctor who explores complex health conditions. In this article, Dr. Davidson, breaks down the connection between mold and Lyme disease in a format that is easy to read. He also discusses various treatments and symptoms that other medical professionals often miss. Dr. Jay’s wife struggled with chronic Lyme disease which made him passionate about this topic and as such, he has dedicated his life to helping others with similar issues.

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5 Misconceptions About Mold Illness

sick dog with ice pack on head - Homebiotic - Mold Illness

With something as complex as mold illness, we are bound to run into some confusion. Have you ever considered what the misconceptions about mold illness might be?  What we call mold illness is actually a complex syndrome called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). People exposed to mold are actually responding to the mycotoxins that mold secrete. These mycotoxins are a biotoxin that causes several changes in the immune system, affecting several organs in the body.

Mold growth - Homebiotic - get rid of mold

The symptoms of mold illness are the same as CIRS (1,2). These symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Weakness and Fatigue
  • Memory problems and difficulties with concentration
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Muscle aches and joint pains
  • Feeling sick after exertion
  • Hypersensitivity to bright lights, blurred vision, red eyes, and tearing
  • Cough, shortness of breath, chronic sinus congestion, and asthma
  • More static shocks than usual

People need to know the facts about mold illness to understand the causes and symptoms and eliminate confusion. In this way, people can get the proper diagnosis and treatment they need for CIRS. What’s important to understand is that mold illness, or CIRS, is poorly understood by many people, including some health practitioners. In this article, we’ll look deeper into this issue and talk about the 5 misconceptions of mold illness.

doctor checking boy with stethoscope - Homebiotic - mold illness1) MOLD ILLNESS, OR CIRS, IS NOT JUST CAUSED BY MOLD

Even though we call it mold illness, there’s more to this condition than just mold exposure. Mold illness is actually a systemic response to the biotoxins in mold. However, these biotoxins are not limited to mold alone. They can be found in several other substances, infections, and chemicals (2,3,4).

We call it mold illness because when CIRS is set off by mold, it requires a specific response in order to treat it. This response includes dealing directly with mold removal or getting the patient away from the mold source.

However, CIRS can also be caused by other biotoxins such as (2,3):

  • Exposure to bacteria and the parts of certain bacteria (actinomycetes, endotoxins, and hemolysins)
  • Different species of fungi
  • Inflammagens (external irritants that cause inflammation)
  • Beta-glucans (sugars found in the cell walls of yeast, bacteria, fungi, and some plants)
  • Microbial volatile organic compounds

Lastly, biotoxins can be found in some infections induced by ticks, fish, and insect bites (2). This is why many people diagnosed with mold illness tend to have other issues like Lyme disease (1,2,3). Babesia and Borrelia, bacteria transmitted through tick bites, can also secrete biotoxins that can have adverse health effects.

female friends gathering - Homebiotic - mold illness is common2) CIRS IS ACTUALLY A COMMON HEALTH ISSUE

Although there’s been confusion about this condition, CIRS is common and affects up to 25% of the population. Three conditions must be met to develop CIRS: a genetic predisposition, an inflammatory event, and exposure to biotoxins (2,4,5).

Those with a genetic predisposition may develop CIRS after prolonged exposure to biotoxins. However, research shows that an inflammatory event, like a chronic viral illness or tick-borne illness, is also required to trigger the immune system towards the development of CIRS (2-5).

Not everyone will be genetically inclined towards CIRS. Still, most of us have been exposed to inflammatory events (like viral illness) and biotoxins. This makes the development of CIRS rather common.

When it comes to mold exposure, most of us have been in contact with mold either in our homes or at work. Unfortunately, mold is increasingly common in urban buildings due to their airtight construction, excessive dampness, and cellulose-containing materials that mold like to feed on. All three of these conditions are what mold needs to grow (1,6).

A report on mold and dampness put out by the WHO shows that up to 20% of buildings in Europe, Canada, and the United States had excessive dampness. However, other studies show that mold and dampness may affect approximately 50% of homes. These numbers may be higher in poor neighborhoods where households are crowded, and the heating and ventilation system is inadequate (1).

A report on mold and dampness put out by the WHO shows that up to 20% of buildings in Europe, Canada, and the United States had excessive dampness. However, other studies show that mold and dampness may affect approximately 50% of… Click To Tweet

With this level of mold and dampness, it’s no wonder that CIRS is more prevalent than we realize.

medical record paper - Homebiotic - mold illness is often misdiagnosed3) CIRS IS OFTEN MISDIAGNOSED

As we’ve discussed above, up to 25% of the population is genetically susceptible to CIRS. Also, mold is a risk for 20-50% of all homes. Lastly, most people have been exposed to some kind of inflammatory event. This means that CIRS may be quite common in the general population.

However, CIRS is challenging to diagnose and is often missed. In fact, many health practitioners may not even be looking for it. The symptoms often overlap with other illnesses, and they’re also non-specific. This means that the symptoms don’t conclusively point to CIRS. Also, testing is poorly understood and not widely available (2-5).

The exact biotoxin that people have been exposed to must be understood and isolated to secure a diagnosis. In the case of mold, the environment needs to be tested to ensure there was an actual exposure to mold (1,6).

Until now, most mold tests look at only 5-30 species of mold, but since there are thousands of mold species, these mold tests may be falsely negative (7). Thankfully, Homebiotics has created a new product that tests for over 30,000 species of mold. With more specificity, mold exposure can be adequately diagnosed and treated.

The other requirements for diagnosing CIRS are: identifying a genetic haplotype, having biomarkers consistent with neuroimmune, vascular and endocrine abnormalities, and a positive visual contrast sensitivity (VCS) test. The VCS test shows problems with the retina that are highly specific to biotoxin damage and CIRS (2-5).

Many of these diagnostic criteria can be challenging, and not every practitioner has the capacity to do the testing and follow up required. This means many people with CIRS are misdiagnosed with other overlapping illnesses with similar symptoms.

black mold under wall paper - Homebiotic - how to get rid of mold4) FIRST STEP IN TREATING MOLD ILLNESS (CIRS) IS MOLD REMEDIATION

As discussed above, part of diagnosing CIRS is to understand the biotoxins involved. If mold exposure is suspected, then it’s essential to test for mold in the patient’s environment. Once a proper test is completed, then mold removal is the next step.

Unfortunately, removing mold can be difficult if you don’t know where to look for it. Most mold is visible, but sometimes it isn’t. For example, a lot of mold growth happens behind drywall or bathroom tiles, which can often be inaccessible without significant renovation.

Unfortunately, removing mold can be difficult if you don't know where to look for it. Most mold is visible, but sometimes it isn't. For example, a lot of mold growth happens behind drywall or bathroom tiles, which can often be… Click To Tweet

Many times, removing mold can be costly, and if you don’t know how to prevent mold growth, it can quickly grow back. Sometimes this means that many people have to leave their home environments due to the cost and confusion of mold removal. All of these factors can make the removal of mold exposure very challenging (1,6).

People need to know how to prevent mold so they can stop mold exposure in the future. This involves prohibiting dampness, increasing airflow, and cleaning up clutter around areas known to have contact with water. Also, when possible, any water leaks need to be repaired properly (1,6).

smoothie bowl inside papaya with berries - Homebiotic - ways to detox mold illness5) TREATING MOLD ILLNESS (CIRS) IS MORE THAN JUST REMOVING MOLD

Since there are many biotoxins other than mold, it’s essential to look for other overlapping biotoxin exposures. As mentioned before, some people with CIRS may also have Lyme disease or chemical biotoxin exposures. It’s crucial to uncover this if a person shows potential for CIRS.

If mold is the biotoxin in question, removing the mold or removing the person from the moldy environment is the next step. However, the problem is that people with CIRS have a genetic predisposition that makes them unable to clear and remove biotoxins from their bodies. This means it can take a while before they can detox from their mold exposure (2,3).

The process is complicated and requires specific chemical binders to pull the mold out of their bodies. It also requires dietary and lifestyle changes to improve their ability to detoxify. In a perfect world, all physicians would know how to help patients remove the biotoxin build-up in patients with CIRS. Unfortunately, there are only a few that offer that service (2-5).

CONCLUSION

Hopefully, these 5 misconceptions about mold illness can help increase awareness of this health issue. We know now that mold illness is a condition called CIRS caused by a genetic predisposition triggered by an inflammatory event, followed by a mold biotoxin exposure.

Due to a genetic issue, people with CIRS can’t clear biotoxins from their bodies very easily. This makes their recovery more complicated. We also know that mold testing and removal can also be challenging for many.

In the meantime, education is vital in informing the public about what mold illness really is and what’s required to diagnose and treat it. The more this education gets out there, the more that patients and physicians can advocate. When it comes to CIRS, knowledge is power.


REFERENCES

https://www.survivingmold.com

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/179769.Desperation_Medicine

https://internalmedicinereview.org/index.php/imr/article/view/718

https://www.jacionline.org/article/s0091-6749(02)00092-1/fulltext

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791814/

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Soil-Based Microbes Provide Natural Mold Protection

Did you know: soil-based microbes provide natural mold protection? One fact that surprises most people is that out of hundreds of thousands of microbes, only about fifty species actually cause us harm (1). These species include mold as well as dangerous bacteria that cause illness. So many microbes and yet so few are harmful. Yet, to this day, most modern research around microbes focuses on avoiding and removing them. As for the hundreds of thousands of microbes that are not dangerous, such as the many diverse bacteria that live in soil, we barely give them our attention.

In his book “Never Home Alone,” Rob Dunn recounts the many microbes that share our home environments. In modern homes, these microbes tend to be bacteria that live in and on human bodies. But there are many more microbes that have shared our living space throughout history (1). In fact, humans have always lived with many diverse microbes. However, in the last century or so, we’ve regarded them as a potential threat that we need to eradicate. And now, our modern lifestyle bears little resemblance to when humans lived closer to nature.

bright, airy home - homebiotic

As Dunn discusses, it’s only in the last century where humans have purposely lived in closed environments that are cut off from the outside. Before that, we lived together with soil-based microbes that created a vast and diverse microbial landscape (1). Unfortunately, we’re beginning to see the adverse effects of cutting ourselves off from a relationship with soil-based microbes. Indeed, experts have shown that when biodiversity decreases, human inflammatory illnesses increase (1,2).

Unfortunately, we're beginning to see the adverse effects of cutting ourselves off from a relationship with soil-based microbes. Indeed, experts have shown that when biodiversity decreases, human inflammatory illnesses increase Click To Tweet

Chronic illnesses such as allergies, asthma, irritable bowel disease, and autoimmune disorders have all been linked to dwindling biodiversity and a lack of beneficial microbes (2,3,4,5). Even worse, there is so much confusion out there about what makes microbes beneficial versus harmful. And most modern humans treat all microbes as a “nasty bug” that needs to be removed. More so, most people shudder when they hear that it’s a good thing to live with many microbes. Fortunately, there’s never been a better time to learn when it comes to microbial education.

person in hiking boots standing on dirt - homebioticMold & Soil-based Microbes

We know that mold has the potential to make us sick, but most people don’t realize that mold was never an issue for human life before things got so modern.

For example, Dunn discusses research studies done in Amish environments where people live closer to animals and nature. Amish homes are teeming with microbes, but what makes them different from modern homes is that the microbial life is much more diverse. Not only that, but these homes also contain many species found only in soil (1,6,7).

Here’s what may surprise you – most of these homes don’t contain as much harmful bacteria or mold as many modern homes have. Why? Because diverse soil-based bacteria help keep the home microbiome balanced. Also, soil-based microbes keeps our human immune systems balanced and healthy (1,6,7,8).

Microbes, like any animal in nature, are opportunists. They grow wherever there’s food and space that allows them to reproduce. And for open environments where the outside and inside are more connected, species need to compete for food and space. This is what creates balance in nature (1,6,8).

One only has to observe biodiverse habitats like jungles or boreal forests to see how everything strives to live in balance. And wherever diversity is allowed to thrive, there is a healthy balance of microbes.

One only has to observe biodiverse habitats like jungles or boreal forests to see how everything strives to live in balance. And wherever diversity is allowed to thrive, there is a healthy balance of microbes. Click To Tweet

moss covered bridge in lush forest - homebiotic

Our modern homes are no different. Only a few species will thrive and reproduce if we remove the ability to create a diverse microbial balance. Unfortunately, this means that harmful microbes, such as mold, may have more chances to grow in a modern home precisely because it is void of soil-based microbes (9,10).

There’s a fascinating study looking at the mold and bacteria balance required to make cheese. Each microbe must live in balance with the other for the cheese-making process to happen at all. So, of course, bacteria and mold have ways to compete with each other and maintain balance (11,12). This same process happens in nature. And without this microbial competition, we wouldn’t have the life and death balance that actually helps nature to exist in the first place. As humans, we rely on our natural environment to survive. Thus, we absolutely need to live with and among diverse microbes.

woman laying in field of purple flowers - homebioticWhere Are Soil-Based Microbes?

The answers are fairly obvious. Soil-based microbes come from outside of our homes. But, our modern home structures, beliefs, and cleaning practices have made it almost impossible to live with soil-based microbes. Unfortunately, humans have never been more cut-off from nature than we are in the present day. Our homes are teeming with our skin, fecal, saliva, and food bacteria. However, studies show that most modern homes are void of outside soil-based bacteria (10,11).

So instead of creating a balance, we create opportunities for microbes like mold to grow. Almost all mold species love moisture, warmth, and the cellulose-containing materials that homes are made of. Therefore, we can see why modern homes are Petri dishes for mold (13). Research shows that homes containing more diverse soil-based microbes have fewer mold issues (10,11,13).

soapy sponge for cleaning - homebioticWhy Don’t We Have Them in Modern Homes?

We bleach, sweep, and do whatever we can to get rid of microbes because we mistakenly believe they’re bad for us. The good news is that we know the truth now, and there’s much we can do to live with soil-based microbes again. By understanding the need for microbial balance in our homes, we can allow soil-based microbes to enter and remain in our living spaces. This naturally reduces harmful microbes like mold and other dangerous bacteria.

So instead of running away from soil-based microbes, we can learn to invite them in again. This can be as simple as not using harsh chemical cleaners, spending more time outside, and not getting too upset about bringing in some dirt on our shoes. And if you have a dog living in your home, this is excellent news. Research shows that homes with dogs have more soil-based bacteria than homes without dogs (14).

Also, you can explore using products like Homebiotics probiotic spray. This product contains thousands of soil-based microbes that colonize and naturally protect against harmful microbes like mold.

Lastly, the more we learn and connect to our natural environment, the better we will be. Today’s answer to many health issues may be to enhance our biodiversity, not decrease it through fear and use of harsh chemicals to kill it off. We don’t need to go back to living on farms, but we can create a modern world that includes soil-based microbes and more connected to nature.


References

http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/

https://www.pnas.org/content/109/21/8334

https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/44/Suppl_58/P1187

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/all.13002

https://www.pnas.org/content/110/46/18360?etoc=

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23103806/?dopt=Abstract

https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1508749

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/336/6080/489

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-019-0593-4.epdf?referrer_access_token=dbirv_c_z112blDos3pXLNRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0NvGy2dylkGSz3KfaHrHWvz91WrdbO-hC1L5cRkm8uaNT_206dn91YHLRkkEthiaLvebtJej4odp6x8_o6PN9C4sBMg3aSzRXRoO2YCabzZXpWFXr0v027tEfwr0cTKZlPatZKGOACqFfaEnoF1P92hlljaBbcfjElLCR0Tzp6xVovmC84tkYdJawRACVDgwlT2BCyitwETaNo8a3b7DX_pnzgOL61ZX3_w1lLh07CGR3vnLkR14D6RSH0WRjo9A3WMhTeh8H34VG37MCopLsbAuS5lM85zEgO8dIVUIeQlbA%3D%3D&tracking_referrer=www.npr.org

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935115000304

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/01/29/579747917/the-cheese-does-not-stand-alone-how-fungi-and-bacteria-team-up-for-a-tastier-rin

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956425/

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Are We Over-Cleaning Our Skin?

In these current times, the topic of under and over-cleaning our skin and home environment is discussed more than ever. There have always been debates about how often we should clean and which soaps or cleansers to choose. But with the pandemic, everyone is more concerned and possibly more confused as well.

Undoubtedly, in the past several months, there’s been a steady stream of antibacterial and alcohol-based soaps being marketed to the general public. And while these have great success in killing and washing viruses from our hands, we need to consider how often and where to use them.

Should we be using antibacterial soaps for whole body cleansing? How often should we shower versus washing our hands? What’s the best way to avoid skin allergies, acne, or dry skin when choosing a cleansing routine? How clean is too clean? This article will address all of these questions and more.

Washing Our Hands in The Time of Coronavirus

We know that handwashing is the best prevention for the coronavirus. However, before the pandemic, many people weren’t educated about proper handwashing to prevent disease spread.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have always recommended regular handwashing for infection prevention. They provide researched education about how and when to wash our hands. The recommendations back in 2001 lightly supported the use of antibacterial soap. They cautioned that it may increase the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and negatively alter the skin flora (1,2).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have always recommended regular handwashing for infection prevention. They provide researched education about how and when to wash our hands. The recommendations back in 2001 lightly… Click To Tweet

In 2020, the CDC now supports the use of soap and water as the gold standard for infection prevention and control. A search of CDC handwashing guidelines shows that they recommend only alcohol-based hand washing when soap and water aren’t possible (1,2).

As for antimicrobial soaps, the CDC no longer discusses using them at all. The reason is simple, antimicrobial soaps may do more harm than good.

What’s The Deal With Antimicrobial Soaps?

In recent years, several studies show that antimicrobial soaps may cause cracks and irritation to the skin. This creates more susceptibility to bacterial colonization. And as we know, the use of antimicrobial soaps may have a hand in creating superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics (2,3,4).

But unfortunately, antimicrobial soaps mess with our skin microbiome. Each area of the body has its own microbial balance, which maintains our health and prevents infection and disease. This balance can be disturbed by many factors which we are learning more about in modern times (3,5).

For example, in the book “The Whole Body Microbiome,” Dr. Brett Finlay and contributing scientists discuss microbiome balance issues in all areas of the body. With regard to the skin, they talk about how a simple problem like acne could be related to microbial imbalance on the surface of the skin (5).

For instance, a bacteria called Cutibacterium Acnes actually helps break down our oily skin secretions. This process creates an acidic environment that prevents the growth of Staphylococcus Aureus known for causing acne and other infections (5).

Who would have thought that one bacteria can prevent another worse bacteria from growing? But this is the case in almost all of our body microbiomes. Bacteria often compete and edge each other out, which keeps infections low and improves our well being. They also create enzymes and other by-products that contribute to the healthy function of our body (5,6,7).

For all these reasons, we don’t want to use antimicrobial soaps that kill off all the beneficial bacteria that are actually helping us.

Why Should We Avoid Over-Cleaning Our Skin?

In the Whole Body Microbiome, the authors discuss research and studies showing one glaring truth. When it comes to the skin, less clean is better. Areas of the body such as hands, feet, genitals, and armpits should be washed daily with regular soap and water. But as for other areas like the face and rest of the body, it’s not necessary to scrub them daily (5).

Over-cleaning and using overly hot water can also damage our skin microbiome and cause more problems for our health. Many people don’t know that our skin and body microbiome plays a role in developing illnesses like asthma, eczema, autoimmune disease, and allergic reactions (5,7).

For instance, some studies show that eczema is related to higher levels of Staphylococcus Aureus. Without a balanced skin microbiome, these harmful bacteria are allowed to grow, causing the classic inflammatory skin lesions found in eczema (5,7).

Other studies show that exposure to beneficial skin microbes helps develop our immune system, thus preventing skin and systemic illnesses from developing later in life (5,6,8),.

Lastly, over-cleaning may cause cracks and open sores, which can increase infection risk. One study shows that damaged skin from over-cleaning is more likely to be colonized with several harmful microbes. Not only does this increase skin inflammation, but it may also perpetuate the spread of contagious infections (3,5).

So while it may be hard not to over-clean our hands during the pandemic, we can find a better balance for the rest of our body. Daily washing of feet, groin, hands, and armpits is good enough. But other parts of the body really don’t need to be over-cleaned.

For areas like the face, arms, legs, and hair, it seems the best skincare routine is to wash less frequently with plain soap and lukewarm water. This routine will also help prevent things like acne, wrinkles, dry skin, and other infections. Lastly, using a mild natural moisturizer can keep the skin supple without destroying the microbiome (1,2,5).

Conclusion

There’s never been a better time for more discussion and education around cleaning. Until now, most of us weren’t always sure how often we should wash our hands and clean our skin. With the push towards more frequent handwashing and the use of alcohol and antimicrobial soaps, it’s essential to learn what works and what doesn’t.

Frequent handwashing is critical in these trying times. And yes, we need to wash our dirtiest parts like feet, groin, and armpits. But surprisingly, we don’t need to over-clean other areas of our skin. And we should definitely stop the use of antimicrobial soaps. Pure soap and water is the best way to clean our hands and bodies.

Moreover, people may not understand how important our skin microbiome is for our health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, by over-cleaning and using hot water and antimicrobial soaps, we may be damaging our skin microbiome’s delicate balance. This has confirmed repercussions in the development of infections, allergies, and autoimmune diseases.

We also recommend learning about over-cleaning your home.


References

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/7/2/70-0225_article

https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/index.html

https://www.ajicjournal.org/article/S0196-6553(98)70025-2/fulltext

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/478930

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/336/6080/489

https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(13)01564-9/fulltext

https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1508749

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Mold Exposure and Lyme Disease: The Hidden Link

There is a clear connection between mold exposure and Lyme disease. Disruptions to your immune system resulting from exposure to mold can make you more likely to both contract Lyme disease and have medical complications with it. Beyond the typical precautions against tick bites, you can also help avoid it with simple household actions: Prevent mold exposure and Lyme disease risks are reduced.

Mold Exposure Can Make You More Susceptible to Lyme Disease

May is National Lyme Disease month, which means that many clinicians, advocates, and researchers will be sharing facts to help increase awareness. Lyme disease affects approximately 30,000 Americans each year. Although it’s a highly treatable disease, it has a high potential to become chronic for many people 1. Also, Lyme disease often occurs in combination with other immune compromising conditions such as autoimmune disorders, allergies, celiac disease, Epstein Barr virus, and other infections 2.

However, did you know that mold toxicity is also an important issue for people with Lyme disease? Unfortunately, the immune-compromising effects of mold toxicity can make you more susceptible to contracting Lyme disease. Also, once infected with the Lyme bacteria, mold illness can make you more likely to have chronic issues with Lyme disease.

Mold growthHow Mold Affects the Immune System

The most common household mold species are Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Cladosporium. But there are thousands of other different kinds of mold species. Although many of them are not harmful in most situations, some can cause serious illness 3. The problem with certain mold species is that they produce substances called mycotoxins which are harmful to human health.

The symptoms of mold illness range from mild to severe depending on the health status, immune system, and genetic factors of different people.

At the very least, the effects of mycotoxins on human tissues can cause mild allergic symptoms. But sometimes it can lead to more severe respiratory or other systemic problems that can cause chronic illness and even death 3,4,5. The main problem with mold and human health is that it causes severe disruptions in the immune system resulting in either an over-reaction or under-reaction 6.

The main problem with mold and human health is that it causes severe disruptions in the immune system resulting in either an over-reaction or under-reaction Click To Tweet

What this means is that mold may be a factor in the development of autoimmune issues as well as immune-deficiency problems. Either of these conditions can make it difficult for a human body to deal with other infections, such as Lyme disease 4,5,6.

Several studies have shown that people living in damp and moldy environments are more prone to inflammatory illnesses or infections that result from immune deficiency. This is especially true if their living environments lack surrounding biodiversity that is void of other helpful microbes 5,6,7,8,9. This is the reason why people with mysterious inflammatory issues and other chronic health problems often test with high levels of mycotoxins.

Further tests often reveal other infections such as Lyme disease. This is no coincidence. Instead, it reveals immune systems that are unable to cope, and mold toxicity may be a massive piece of the puzzle.

How Lyme Disease Affects the Human Body

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete bacteria that is transmitted through tick bites. A tick needs to be attached to the human body for at least 24 hours to transmit the disease. This is why most health education is aimed at early prevention by instructing people how to quickly and adequately remove a tick 1,2. The problem is that many people are under the impression that they can prevent Lyme disease since a tick is easy to find. Tick bites are relatively irritating to the skin. Also, the tick swells, which may make it easy to detect. Therefore, people feel that they can remove it before 24 hours are up.

Unfortunately, most people don’t remove ticks properly. Instead, they pull it out and leave the mouthparts behind. The problem is that those mouthparts stay embedded in the skin where they can continue to transmit the Lyme spirochete 1,2.

Lyme disease initially causes fever, skin rash, joint pain, muscle pain, and headaches. If treated rapidly, a person can make a full recovery. However, Lyme disease has been known to turn chronic, especially if early treatment wasn’t initiated. And even with early treatment, many people still go on to develop chronic Lyme disease symptoms 1,2,10.

Lyme disease initially causes fever, skin rash, joint pain, muscle pain, and headaches. If treated rapidly, a person can make a full recovery. However, Lyme disease has been known to turn chronic, especially if early treatment wasn't… Click To Tweet

What’s interesting is that chronic Lyme disease symptoms are very similar to the signs of mold toxicity. Also, chronic Lyme symptoms are similar to many diseases of the immune system. When this occurs, the clinical picture can become confusing to both the patient and doctors 4,10,11. Symptoms of chronic Lyme disease range from digestive issues, neurological problems, heart damage, and severe musculoskeletal pain 1,2.

Indeed, many people who present with multiple and chronic health issues are often investigated for co-morbid and related conditions such as mold illness and Lyme disease.

The Connection Between Mold & Lyme Disease

As discussed above, the main problem with mold is that it renders our immune system less capable of coping with other infections. Indeed, many people exposed to tick bites don’t actually get sick. And if they do, the illness is short-lived and doesn’t turn chronic.

However, the problem lies when a person gets bit by a Lyme infected tick, and their immune system is already preoccupied with fighting off mold toxicity. Unfortunately, they may be unable to fight off this new infection 11,12,13,14.

Also, even with antibiotic treatment, an immunocompromised host may still go on to develop chronic Lyme-related health issues.

Many people with co-occurring Lyme and mold issues develop something called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). This syndrome is difficult to treat and can wreak havoc on the health, finances, and quality of life of those affected. Furthermore, people with Lyme disease are less likely to clear toxins from their bodies. Likewise, mold toxicity makes Lyme disease treatment less likely to work. Thus it becomes a vicious cycle causing crippling symptoms that are difficult to treat 11,12,13,14.

Many people with co-occurring Lyme and mold issues develop something called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). This syndrome is difficult to treat and can wreak havoc on the health, finances, and quality of life of those… Click To Tweet

Conclusion

Since these two conditions create a perfect storm for inflammatory illness, the obvious solution is to work on both prevention and proper diagnosis for both. Preventing mold illness by properly cleaning and treating moldy environments is paramount. By doing so, the people living in those environments will maintain a healthy immune system. And as we know, a healthy and balanced immune system can fight off other infections like Lyme disease.

Preventing mold illness by properly cleaning and treating moldy environments is paramount. By doing so, the people living in those environments will maintain a healthy immune system. And as we know, a healthy and balanced immune system… Click To Tweet

However, many people don’t even know they have mold illness until they become sick with Lyme disease, which then becomes chronic. Often, it takes a long time with much frustration before a person learns that they’re actually dealing with two chronic illnesses that are exacerbating each other. Since we know that mold illness increases susceptibility to other infections, it makes sense to raise awareness so that people can take action to prevent mold now.

By taking steps to decrease mold problems, people will have a more robust immune system, which will prevent chronic Lyme disease from taking hold. More so, a stronger immune system means fewer chances of developing Lyme disease in the first place.


REFERENCES

1. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/datasurveillance/index.html
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3542482/
3. https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm
4. https://www.prohealth.com/library/overview-lyme-disease-mold-illness-91639
5. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5377931/
7. http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5108756/
9. https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?journal=Arch+Environ+Health&title=Mixed+mold+mycotoxicosis:+immunological+changes+in+humans+following+exposure+in+water-damaged+buildings&author=MR+Gray&author=JD+Thrasher&author=R+Crago&author=RA+Madison&author=L+Arnold&volume=58&publication_year=2003&pages=410-20&pmid=15143854&
10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986024/
11. http://www.gordonmedical.com/unravelling-complex-chronic-illness/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Townsend-Letter-Mold-Article-1.pdf
12. https://www.betterhealthguy.com/topics/mold
13. https://drjaydavidson.com/toxic-mold-lyme/
14. http://www.lymecompass.net/mold-intolerence.html