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Latex Mattress Allergy

June 10, 2021

Latex Mattress Allergy

It wasn’t until 1988 to 1992 that latex allergies gained recognition. With over 1,000 cases reported and 15 deaths, as reported by Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA), latex allergies had people talking.

Less than 1% of the general population in the United States suffer from a latex allergy, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Allergies to latex affect health-field workers significantly more than the general population, due to prolonged exposure to latex gloves and other products.

Below you will learn more of what a latex allergy is, if you can sleep on a latex mattress, and what to be alert to should you find yourself allergic to latex.

What is a Latex Mattress Allergy?

An allergic response is defined as a body's abnormal response of the immune system to a seemingly harmless substance.

Many people believe that if they have a latex allergy, they cannot sleep on a latex mattress. This is not true for most. There are two different types of latex that mattresses are made up of: all-natural latex and synthetic latex.

Natural Latex

All-natural latex is made of rubber tree sap, and a few other components such as sulfur. There are no toxic chemicals used in the making of natural latex products. The rubber tree sap, and other components, make a soft, flexible, and durable foam material.

Synthetic Latex

Synthetic latex is made of petrochemicals, rather than rubber tree sap, to create a foam material similar to the qualities of natural latex. There is no natural latex used in the manufacturing of synthetic latex.

What are Some Facts About Latex Allergies?

Latex allergies are touch-based allergies (the exception to this would be in the case of medical gloves where cornstarch is often used to make it easier to put on and remove the gloves – when the gloves are snapped, these latex contaminated corn starch particles become airborne, and can cause reactions when inhaled). Your skin contacts latex before you would have a reaction to the latex. Latex mattresses are wrapped in wool, and then sealed in an additional layer of cotton ticking, which is a thick cotton fabric common in covering mattresses and pillows. This is an added layer between skin and latex.

If you are concerned about a potential allergic reaction as a result of latex mattress allergies, the best choice, as always, is to seek medical advice from an allergy specialist before purchasing a latex mattress. However, most people with a mild allergy to latex will never have a problem from latex mattresses, and therefore can experience all the worthy benefits of sleeping on a natural latex mattress. Natural latex is, after all, hypoallergenic, and one of the best mattresses for allergies in general.

People with severe allergic reactions to latex might do better to err on the side of caution, despite all the safeguards in place. It’s too great a risk in cases such as these. As always wise, consult your doctor.

How is a Latex Allergy Diagnosed?

When someone experiences an allergic reaction to a substance or material, they often visit the doctor as soon as possible. A doctor will review the patient's past medical history, visually inspect the current irritation, assess the signs and symptoms, and order diagnostic testing.

It can be difficult to diagnose an allergic reaction to a material, even latex, because we come into contact with many substances throughout the day. The doctor will run an allergy skin test and an Immunoglobulin E (IgE) test to determine the cause of the allergic reaction

There is no known cure for an allergic reaction, but there are medications to soothe symptoms as they arise.

How Common are Latex Allergies?

While less than 1% of the general population in the United States reports having an allergy to latex, it is not uncommon. There are over 200,000 cases reported each year.

A latex allergy is much more common among healthcare workers, people requiring multiple surgeries, rubber industry workers, and those with a family history of allergies.

As a result of the sudden increase in latex allergies reported from 1988 to 1992, health care professionals switched to using latex-free gloves, which have seemed to help.

What are the Types of Latex Allergies?

There are three types of reactions to latex: Immunoglobulin E mediated allergic reaction (type 1), cell-mediated allergic reaction (type 4), and irritant dermatitis.

Immunoglobulin E

An IgE reaction, or type I, is an allergy to natural rubber latex proteins. Your body creates immunoglobulin antibodies that react with latex proteins, making it a true allergy. This type of allergic to latex response can happen when latex proteins come into contact with the skin or mouth, or get into the lungs.

Cell-Mediated

A cell-mediated, or type IV, reaction is not life-threatening, and often results in skin inflammation. It occurs due to sensitivity to the chemicals used in making latex products. This type of reaction typically occurs 24-48 hours post-exposure, and may spread to other places that are touched.

Irritant Dermatitis

Irritant dermatitis is not so much an allergy, but a reaction. It presents as an itchy, red rash where latex touches the skin approximately 12-24 hours post-exposure.

It is often caused by frequent hand washing without drying all the way, increased use of hand sanitizer, or friction irritation from the powder on gloves.

What are the Symptoms of Latex Allergies?

When an allergic reaction occurs, one may experience several mild to moderate allergy symptoms. When a severe reaction occurs, death is possible. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with latex allergies including:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Sneezing
  • Eye inflammation
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Anaphylaxis

Anaphylactic shock an be a severe and life-threatening condition. If you experience any difficulty breathing, or severe side effects, seek immediate medical care.

What are the Causes of Latex Allergies?

When your body experiences an allergic reaction, your immune system is telling your body there is a foreign substance that needs to be fought off. The next time you are exposed to the same material, your body releases histamine into the bloodstream, producing signs of an allergic reaction. There are two ways an allergic reaction is caused: direct contact and inhalation.

Direct Contact

The most common cause of an allergic reaction is direct contact. This can be with many things containing latex, including gloves, balloons, and condoms.

Inhalation

Latex gloves release particles into the air that a person in close contact breaths in. When this happens, the particles get into your system, including the lungs, causing an inhalation allergic reaction from an airborne pathogen. The amount of particles released depends on the brand of gloves used.

The severity of symptoms depends on the amount of sensitization your body has experienced.

Are There Latex Cross-Reactive Foods?

People with an allergy to latex may experience a reaction when eating certain fruits. These fruits contain a substance similar to that of latex. The following fruits should be avoided.

  • Apples
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Chestnut
  • Kiwi
  • Papaya
  • Raw potatoes
  • Raw tomatoes

Can People with a Latex Allergy Sleep on a Latex Mattress?

Those with an allergy to latex are allergic to a specific latex protein; however, those with mild latex allergies are completely safe to sleep on a mattress made of latex. Talalay and Dunlop latex, the two most commonly found in latex mattresses, do not produce an allergic reaction like medical gloves do.

When 100% natural latex mattresses are made, they go through a specific washing process that washes away the protein that people develop an allergy to, making it safe for most to enjoy a peaceful night of sleep on their comfortable latex mattresses.

What are Some Latex Allergy Safeguards?

Washing

All latex used in mattresses goes through a rigorous washing process that eliminates the proteins that cause an allergy. Latex mattresses are made using an open-cell structure, allowing the latex to work as a sponge during the washing process. The water is sucked into all parts of the mattress foam, then rinsed thoroughly, allowing all of the allergen protein to be removed.

Vulcanization

Vulcanization is a process where the latex foam is exposed to extreme heat to eliminate any remaining allergen-causing proteins.

Proof

There have been no reported and verified cases of someone being allergic to an all-natural latex mattress.

Sample

For peace of mind, you can call the manufacturer for a sample of the foam used to take to an allergy specialist for testing. The specialist can tell you if there is or is not the allergen protein within the all-natural latex foam in their latex mattresses.

About the Eco Terra Natural Latex Mattress

Natural latex mattresses are one of the most heavenly sleep surfaces known to man. They are hypoallergenic, and contain no harsh chemicals.

At Eco Terra Beds, we make it easy for you to love your mattress. We offer free shipping and returns on all purchases, and a 15-year warranty. All of our mattresses are hand-crafted in-house, guaranteed to provide you unbelievable sleep for the next 15 years of your life.

We guarantee you will be completely satisfied with your purchase; however, if you are not, we will pick up your mattress for free and issue a full refund within the first 90 nights after purchase.

Visit our website today to purchase your ultimate, handcrafted, sustainable sleep experience, it will be the best decision you make today.

Patrick Gunther

Patrick is an accomplished writer. He has been in the retail mattress space for the past 11 years, and more specifically in the natural mattress niche. He blogs on the subjects of natural mattresses, sleep, health, fitness, and green living.



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