Mold is an increasing problem in funeral homes and specifically decedent care today.
The pre- and post-embalming holding times of deceased have increased. Typically, decedents are held in refrigeration in plastic or have plastic placed over viewing portions to protect the face. While this is a good practice, the plastic covering can cause precipitation of moisture to collect on the face and hands, setting up a prime condition for the expansion of spores and the development of mold.
But let’s look at a quick overview of mold. Mold is a fungal growth that forms and spreads on various kinds of damp or decaying organic matter. No indoor space is completely free from mold spores – not even a surgical operating room. Molds are everywhere, making our exposure to molds unavoidable. This means spores can be found in hospitals, homes, in your embalming room and refrigeration unit. Additionally, mold can grow on embalmed tissue.
Molds are categorized in the Kingdom Fungi. They are also referred to as fungi or mildew. They are multicellular but are neither plants nor animals and multiply by producing microscopic spores similar to the seeds produced by plants. In addition to spores the mold structure also includes hyphae. Hyphae are the portion of mold that embeds into the tissue of the deceased creating a very stubborn discoloration that is often bleached and requires the application of cosmetics. To prevent the development of hyphae and the need for bleaching and cosmetics it is important to limit the expansion of spores.
Here are my suggestions for stopping spores from growing into mold on the deceased.
When the decedent arrives at your funeral home, during the intake process, liberally apply a topical disinfecting spray like Orifice Guard (1-ORIFG) to destroy spores. Orifice Guard contains Isopropyl Alcohol which is known to be highly effective at killing spores. Application should cover the entire body and the lining of the plastic if the plastic will remain on the deceased, for example a body bag. If mold is already visible, apply Orifice Guard liberally and carefully wipe the mold away. Take caution to disrupt the epidermis as little as possible. Doing so can create moist areas for more mold development or conversely dehydration.
If the body is going to be held for a period, I suggest applying Antiseptic Velva Cream (1-CREAVELV). This is a unique offering from Frigid. This mixture of massage cream with antiseptic is a great way to disinfect spores and limit mold development.
In the post embalming phase. I like to apply Antiseptic Velva Cream to every deceased. Again, this is a great product that will limit dehydration and destroy mold forming spores. If the body will be held for a long period of time, regularly replace the Antiseptic Velva Cream to the face, hands and anywhere else you have applied it initially. As with any antiseptic, there is a loss of efficacy over time when exposed to microbial growth and the environment. I would also regularly replace any plastic coverings as they may harbor spores.
Mold can be stubborn and create a situation that creates additional steps to create a suitable memory picture for the families you serve. To eliminate these extra steps, stay vigilant and shore your decedent care with Frigid embalming supplies to prevent mold formation.