General Question

Chrissi85's avatar

Why don't people go mouldy?

Asked by Chrissi85 (1070points) July 17th, 2010

This is probably a bloody stupid question, but I am full of them! It popped into my head as I was waking up. I was just wondering what the science is behind it. I know if you leave plants too wet they go mouldy, and they are living, growing organisms. So what about us? Is it just a case of good hygiene? or is there some biological reason. Just wondering really.

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31 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Well..I don’t know if mouldy is the right term, but…people are prone to bacterial infections on their skin from exposeure to too much moisture.

Think diaper rash, certain fungal conditions, etc.

Dogs in asia are prone to a horrible mange condition from living in a tropical climate with high humidity.

So, there are lots of body/skin conditions that can arise from certain climates and exposures.

Chrissi85's avatar

True! and there’s things like Dermatitis, which is the natural fungus in your skin growing too fast. Hmmm.

Chrissi85's avatar

But I was thinking specifically mould, I mean it grows on food when you leave it at room temperature, and that’s organic.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Molds are, apparently, a type of fungus, and so you could say that some fungal infections are moldiness. Also, keep in mind that we do have very good immune systems, which dead meat would not (and maybe plants? Not up on my plant biology), and so we can fight off molds which are used to dealing with objects that can’t fight back.

Coloma's avatar

Hmmm…well…a dead body might get mouldy if it was left in certain conditions. lol

I guess it has something to do with the dying fruit or veggie. Once it is picked I think it would be considered technically ‘dead.’ It is no longer alive and growing attached to the mother plant, tree, vine, bush etc.

BhacSsylan's avatar

@Coloma Plants can mold while still growing, as well as fruit, so i think it’s many a difference in biology and immune systems.

Coloma's avatar


Thats true. Good point.

Reminds me check my tomato plants this morning. lol

jerv's avatar

Part of it has to do with the fact that our skin sheds fairly quickly compared to how fast mold grows so you really need to be in a jungle-like environment for it to grow fast enough to take root before the skin it’s growing on flakes off.

That said, there are some things that can overcome that. Athlete’s foot and Tinea Versicolor come to mind immediately.

Chrissi85's avatar

Yeah I have had plents go mouldy while they were still growing, which is what got me thinking about it.

Chrissi85's avatar

@jerv thats quite disgusting, but illuminating. So it just seems to be an environmental thing I suppose. Too much moisture and suchlike and it can happen, in a way.

Coloma's avatar

Guess it lends itself to the saying ‘dead on the vine’ lolol

jerv's avatar

@Chrissi85 There is a reason I change my shirt and socks as often as I do. A hot, damp environment is perfect for those things, and a sweaty shirt or sock at body temperature qualifies. Same goes for underwear as well, so there is a valid reason to forgo briefs in favor of boxers looser fitting and don’t hold the moisture directly against your skin or free-balling. Athlete’s foot is bad enough, but Jock Itch (same thing, different place) is worse.

Considering I have always had active jobs and often been in hot environments (Persian Gulf, steel mill, etcetera) I know some of this stuff all too well.

Lightlyseared's avatar

We have an immune system.

Chrissi85's avatar

@jerv Well that clears things up (so to speak) thanks for the rather graphic info =D Like I said I just woke up with the question in my head and figured you lovely people might be able to shed some light on it

Your_Majesty's avatar

Because they don’t want to. If they want they can live a dirty lifestyle to grow mold on their skin(maybe some other kind of mold,the one exclusive for human).

Coloma's avatar


” Because they don’t want to” hahaha

Okay..well….guess that wraps up this little discussion. lol

judochop's avatar

We do not mold because we wipe ourselves off, shed skin and wash. If we did not move, bathe or clean ourselves we would grow mold as well.

Jeruba's avatar

Well, darlin’, when I was 14 I broke my arm roller skating and had a hard plaster cast put on it. The cast extended past the knuckles on my hand and midway to the main finger joint.

Inside it itched like the very devil after a couple of weeks.

Between my fingers I could see a crustiness growing. I wasn’t supposed to get the cast wet, but I did try to wash as much of my hand as I could reach inside it.

When the cast came off, my limp arm was sickly grayish white in color, with a nice scaly coating of greenishess. A distinctive and unpleasant odor arose from it. I looked at it with distaste, as though it weren’t mine but rather some odd foreign thing that had unaccountably become attached to my body.

It took some mighty scrubbing to restore what I had always thought of as “normal” skin and which I then realized I owed to a habit of soap of water learned under the vigilant supervision of my mother.

gasman's avatar

The immune system evolved early in the history of multi-cellular animals. When a fungal infection starts to take hold on our skin (e.g., athlete’s foot), we mount a response including itching, redness, and other forms of inflammation to fight the infection. Plants have fewer defenses against attack by micro-organisms.

judochop's avatar

also might I add that athletes foot is in fact a mold/fungus as is jungle rot

Coloma's avatar

So s jungle rot like the dry rot of the human body? lol

YARNLADY's avatar

Nobody has mentioned teeth mold, often called cavities.

Coloma's avatar


haha…ewwww….nothing worse than rotten teeth…gah…my teeth are sooo important to me!

anartist's avatar

What do you think foot fungus or crotch rot is? These were big, serious problems for soldiers in the trenches during WWI.

MaryW's avatar

Yeasts and molds do occur on people and are all in the fungus family. Just get damp and warm and somewhat airless and bingo you have a greenhouse on your body.

Nullo's avatar

We don’t get bathroom mold on our skin because it’s not a very good habitat for the stuff.

shilolo's avatar

As others above has said, in general, our immune systems (primarily neutrophils) protect us from developing a systemic mold infection. That said, there are rare cases of mycetoma, most commonly occurring in the leg and known as Madura Foot(Madura-Foot).htm. Also, those with weakened immune systems can develop invasive mold infections which are very difficult to treat and often fatal. Finally, the fungi/molds such as Histoplasma capsulatum and Coccidiomycosis immitis can cause severe disease.

rooeytoo's avatar

When you live in the tropics, you DO get moldy.

Chrissi85's avatar

Thanks everyone =D curiosity sated! I am now suitably grossed out and itchy, but better informed.

Chrissi85's avatar

Oh and @shilolo yuck! I wish I hadn’t decided to check my Fluther whilst hungover….

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