Latex allergy and latex mattresses
1 December 2020
3 min

Allergies? People would prefer to live without them. Itching, coughing, sneezing, swelling and so on are not the most desired conditions to live with on a daily basis. Unfortunately, however, some of us need to fight these nasty irritations seasonally or constantly.

 

Allergies are rather insidious and they come in all sorts of forms: drugs, food, insects, pets, mould, pollen and latex. Oh, hold on a second… Then what about latex mattresses? Aren’t they supposed to be completely good for your health? They are relatively safe. Below you’ll see why.

 

What is latex allergy?

 

Latex allergy is the immune system’s abnormal response to latex, identifying it as a harmful and foreign substance, thus wanting to eliminate it. It is a reaction caused by the proteins found in natural latex extracted from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). There are many everyday objects that contain latex in its natural form including rubber gloves, elastic bands, baby bottle teats, balloons, just to name a few. As for synthetic latex, it does not trigger allergic reactions because it has nothing to do with its natural cousin.

 

How does latex allergy develop?

 

This type of allergy can develop over time when exposed to latex repeatedly. Health care workers are affected disproportionately because they use latex gloves regularly. Also, those who undergo multiple surgeries or other medical procedures are at risk. In most cases, allergic reactions occur when the skin comes into direct contact with a material containing latex, but it can possibly develop through inhalation when the latex particles become airborne.

 

The immune system’s response ranges from minor skin reactions like rashes or hives to swelling or even anaphylaxis (a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction).

 

Can a natural latex mattress cause an allergic reaction?

 

Fortunately, latex mattresses are reasonably safe to use even for those who suffer from latex allergy. Why? Firstly, because the latex found in these mattresses doesn’t come into direct contact with the skin as there is a cover between the person sleeping on it and the latex itself. Also, during the manufacturing process the latex goes through a 5-stage washing process which effectively rids the foam of proteins that could generate allergic reactions. Furthermore, some mattress companies even include vulcanization (a process in which the latex foam is exposed to extreme heat) in the procedure, further ruling out the possibility of allergy-causing substances remaining in the mattress.

 

All in all, there is a negligible chance of developing a latex allergy when using a latex mattress.

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