Symptoms of Black Mold

Stuffy nose, itchy eyes, wheezing, and more

Exposure to black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) can cause symptoms such as a stuffy nose, wheezing, and itchy eyes, similar to those of other molds. However, not everyone is bothered by mold.

It's more likely to be a problem if you have certain conditions, including mold allergies and asthma. And long-term exposure to large amounts of mold spores can cause a severe reaction.

This article discusses the most common symptoms of black mold, rare symptoms, and when to seek medical help.

Cleaning black mold from bathroom tiles

Animaflora / Getty Images

Frequent Symptoms

Some people are more sensitive to mold than others. An allergic reaction can occur when you touch mold or breathe in mold spores, which can cause typical hay fever (allergic rhinitis) symptoms. This can happen right away, or you can have a delayed reaction.

Some of the more frequent black mold symptoms are:

Mold allergy symptoms are likely to get worse over time and when you're in a damp, humid environment, such as a basement, where mold can flourish.

Indoor molds can cause allergy symptoms year-round, while outdoor molds are more likely to cause symptoms in summer and fall. If you're allergic to mold, you can expect symptoms to start clearing up when you're no longer exposed.

Rare Symptoms

A severe reaction to black mold might involve:

If black mold enters a break in the skin, it can cause:

  • Warts or large lesions that resemble cauliflower
  • Areas of redness and swelling
  • Fluid leaking from the skin
  • Pain

There are reports of toxic black mold causing various other problems. However, links to these symptoms and conditions have not been proven. These symptoms include:


There are a few other situations where you might be at higher risk of serious infection from black mold. Some of these are:

  • You have a compromised immune system due to a condition like HIV/AIDS.
  • You've had an organ transplant.
  • You're currently on chemotherapy or other treatment that dampens the immune response.

With these conditions, inhaling black mold can lead to complications such as:

People with respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma may experience breathing problems around black mold.

Mold exposure can trigger an asthma attack if you have asthma and are also sensitive to mold. Symptoms of this can include:

  • Cough
  • Wheeze
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness

There is some evidence that exposure to indoor molds can play a role in the development of and worsening of asthma in children.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

In general, it's worth seeing a healthcare provider if you have bothersome symptoms or if allergy symptoms are not under control within three to six months.

It can be difficult to know whether symptoms are due to allergies, asthma, or some other condition, so it's important to get a medical diagnosis. Your provider can perform an allergy test to see if you're allergic to mold.

If you've already been diagnosed with allergies or asthma, let your provider know that your symptoms are persistent or worsening. Be sure to mention if you've been exposed to mold, especially if you've touched it or breathed it in.

Seek immediate medical help if:

Currently, there's no test that can prove your symptoms are the result of exposure to black mold. And if you have mold in your home, there's no need to determine the type, as all molds should be removed.


Black mold, like other molds, can cause typical allergy symptoms such as runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing. This can happen when you touch the mold or breathe in mold spores. Not everyone is sensitive to molds. You're more likely to have this type of reaction if you have a mold allergy or a respiratory condition such as asthma or COPD.

Less frequently, black mold symptoms can include hives, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Severe symptoms are more likely with long-term exposure or if you have certain conditions such as HIV/AIDS. You may also have a severe reaction to black mold if you take medicines, such as chemotherapy, which suppress the immune system. Serious complications can include pneumonia or hard-to-treat infection.

If you have symptoms of black mold, it's a good idea to see a healthcare provider to find out for certain.

A Word From Verywell

While mold doesn't affect everyone, it's important to clean it up quickly and with proper precautions. If you're not comfortable cleaning it yourself, look into  professional mold remediation services. If you have a compromised immune system or have asthma or COPD, you should not stay in the home or be there during clean-up.

Mold spores are everywhere, so it's hard to avoid them completely. But there are treatments that can ease symptoms associated with allergies. If you think you may have a mold allergy, see your provider or visit an allergist to learn more.

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic facts about mold and dampness.

  2. EPA. Mold and health.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Facts about Stachybotrys chartarum.

  4. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. New England Chapter. Mold allergy.

  5. Emerging Pathogens Institute. University of Florida. Black mold.

  6. Borchers AT, Chang C, Eric Gershwin M. Mold and human health: a reality check. Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol. 2017;52(3):305-322. doi:10.1007/s12016-017-8601-z

  7. New York State Department of Health. Mold and your home: What you need to know.

  8. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Mold allergy.

  9. Caillaud D, Leynaert B, Keirsbulck M, Nadif R. Indoor mould exposure, asthma and rhinitis: findings from systematic reviews and recent longitudinal studies. Eur Respir Rev. 2018;27(148):170137. doi: 10.1183/16000617.0137-2017

  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reduce your exposure to mold in your home.

By Ann Pietrangelo
Ann Pietrangelo is a freelance writer, health reporter, and author of two books about her personal health experiences.