Almost everybody knows a friend or family member afflicted by eczema- we always?see commercials for treatments and hear about them on the radio, even one of the Kardashian girls muses about her skin condition on their reality TV show. However, few people know that eczema could also be caused by something major and catastrophic ?like water damage, or something minor and microscopic like molds and dust mites. Scientists have only just started to make breakthroughs in understanding these connections.
A study recently linked water damage in living rooms and children?s bedrooms to the occurrence of eczema, also known as ?atopic dermatitis?. This dermatitis results in itchy skin and often affects children, particularly in their first year of life. Past large-scale studies merely utilized questionnaires, interviews, or visual inspections to determine moisture problems, but by using infrared cameras that detect surface temperature differences, Dr. Kagmo Ahn was able to identify and measure water damage more accurately.
The study also took air samples and inspected for water stains and mold. A room was deemed ?water damaged? if there was more than two square feet of water present. Not only were concentrations of airborne mold higher in homes with water damage, but kids living in such homes were a whopping 15 times more likely to have moderate to severe eczema (classifications were based off of the SCORAD scale-?Scoring Atopic Dermatitis).
The authors of this study carefully pointed out that eczema may not be entirely due to mold growth. Moisture also produces large populations of dust mites, since dust mites require dampness and humidity for their ideal habitat. If a home fits this criteria, more dust mites multiply and this increases the risk of allergic reactions and atopic dermatitis for children.
Ironically, the study showed that there was no difference in airborne mold between homes with and without water stains. We like to stress how omnipresent and pervasive molds are- you do not always?need to have visible flooding or water damage for mold to cause severe problems and disrupt your lifestyle. Mold is commonly associated with causing respiratory illness and allergic reactions, but little did we know that it could also contribute to one of the most common skin conditions in the world. Up to 20% of the world?s population has eczema, and those afflicted could have their suffering alleviated by controlling all possible sources of their itchy skin, such as molds and dust mites.