A Complete Guide to Latex Mattress Allergies

Written by: Katarina Pucijasevic
Updated: 07/25/2023

Natural latex is a high-end material for mattresses because it molds to your body, relieves pressure, and lasts for a long time.But how good is it for people with a latex allergy?Let’s get into it.

What Is Latex?

Latex is a natural material made from rubber tree sap. It’s used to create things like latex gloves, toys, and mattresses. 

To create a latex mattress, the milky sap from the rubber tree is turned into frothy foam, other materials are added, and it’s all vulcanized. 

There are two types of vulcanization processes: closed-cell and open-cell. During the closed-cell vulcanization process, proteins responsible for latex sensitivity are kept, but the open-cell process washes them away.

Latex Mattress Types

Latex mattresses are known for being durable, responsive, and pressure-relieving. They are firmer but still contour the body well. 

Their features depend on how they’re made and what they’re made from. 

Types of latex found in mattresses are natural latex, synthetic latex, and blended latex. Natural latex mattresses have the best attributes, and synthetic ones could be better. 

Their exact features also depend on whether it’s Dunlop latex or Talalay latex foam, although the differences are minor. Although Talalay latex is preferable for allergy sufferers, an organic mattress like this is a good choice for eco-friendly shoppers. And if you need more support, you can always choose a latex-hybrid mattress. 

What Causes Latex Allergies?

The proteins found in natural latex are allergens, but reactions to them differ. 

Some people are born with a latex allergy, but for most, it’s caused by frequent contact with latex. Some people are more prone to developing this allergy than others. 

Allergic reactions to latex are either caused by prolonged direct contact or inhalation. 

Are Latex Allergies Common?

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 1-6% of the U.S. population has some form of latex allergy. 

The thing is, most of them are healthcare workers who are in constant contact with latex because of things like latex gloves. According to data, those with a latex allergy make up 8–12% of healthcare workers. 

Children born with spina bifida, children with some food allergies, and those with a lot of medical work are also more likely to become allergic to latex.

Types of Latex Allergies

How your body reacts to a latex allergy can vary from mild to extreme. Here are the most common types of latex allergies. 

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

The most common allergic response for those allergic to latex is dry or irritated skin, especially on your hands. It’s mainly caused by prolonged exposure and direct skin contact with this natural rubber. The skin reacts sometime after exposure, and it usually goes away pretty fast. People with mild latex allergies can benefit from hydrocortisone cream for this most common allergic reaction.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

If a person with latex hypersensitivity has skin contact with latex products, they could get allergic contact dermatitis, also known as a rash. 

The rash may blister and ooze within minutes to hours of contact. It can also happen inside the body if they inhale natural rubber latex particles. It takes two to four weeks to heal from this, and it could get worse if there’s more contact with the affected person’s skin. 

Anaphylactic Shock

If you have a severe allergy, your immune system will panic, lowering your blood pressure. You’ll have difficulty breathing, and you’ll need an epinephrine auto injector or even proper medical attention. This is called a life-threatening anaphylactic shock.  That’s a severe reaction to a harmful substance, but thankfully, this type of reaction to latex is not very common.

Symptoms of Latex Allergy

The good news is that latex allergy symptoms are usually very mild, and you could get them from a lot of things.

You’re not sure whether you have a latex mattress allergy? Here are some of the latex allergy symptoms you may be experiencing:  

  • Rashes and blisters
  • Hives 
  • Troubles with breathing
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Nausea

If you think you have latex sensitivity, make an appointment with a doctor to do a skin test and confirm whether latex is the culprit. 

How To Avoid an Allergic Reaction to a Latex Mattress 

There’s no known cure for a latex allergy, but there are ways to help with symptoms and prevent reactions from happening. 

Here’s some bad news for fans of latex mattresses – the best way to avoid an allergic reaction to natural latex is to avoid the material altogether. Latex allergy sufferers need to say no to rubber gloves and other latex products!

However, this allergy only shows up if you’re in direct contact with a mattress or if you inhale mattress particles. Technically speaking, you could avoid it if the latex is in the support layer or you use a good mattress encasement. 

That being said, the best thing to do if you want to buy a natural latex mattress is to consult with your doctor. Different people react differently to this material, and you might be OK. 

Latex mattresses are a good choice if you suffer from other allergies because they’re hypoallergenic. 

Latex Alternatives for Allergic People

And if natural latex mattresses turn out to be a big no-no for you, don’t worry! You can always turn to latex mattress alternatives. 

Synthetic Latex

Synthetic latex is a good alternative if you suffer from natural latex mattress allergies. 

Even though it’s not as good as a natural latex mattress, a good-quality synthetic latex bed can give you everything you need to sleep well. And it won’t cause an allergic reaction! This material is usually softer, bouncy, pressure-relieving and contouring. But remember that it doesn’t have excellent support and often has trouble with temperature regulation.

Memory Foam

Memory foam is the best thing after latex beds. It’s very similar to synthetic latex. 

It’s soft, pressure-relieving, and contouring. However, it doesn’t have good support or edge support. 

Just watch out for one thing! This material is notorious for trapping heat, so hot sleepers, beware! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Latex Mattresses Safe for People Allergic to Latex?

Kind of. But be careful. 

People react differently to latex, and you might be worse than others. 

People with latex allergies get sick after repeated exposure and being in close contact with latex for a long time, either by touching the mattress or breathing in latex particles in the air. So should they sleep on a latex mattress?

Technically speaking, you could avoid this allergy if you have a good mattress cover and aren’t in direct contact with it, but you should watch out for symptoms and contact your doctor before looking for mattresses. 

What Is a Hypoallergenic Mattress?

A hypoallergenic mattress claims to be free of allergens. Mattress companies usually use this for beds that are less likely to house dust mites and similar allergens. 

Most latex mattresses are classified as hypoallergenic, and memory foam is good for this too. Innerspring beds, for example, are not because their construction provides a breeding ground for dust mites. 

However, there’s no utterly hypoallergenic bed out there. Some are better at harboring some of the most common allergens. 

What Are the Best Latex Foam Alternatives?

The best alternatives to latex foam mattresses for people with latex allergies are synthetic latex or memory foam. Neither of these materials can be the same as a natural latex mattress, but they can still be very comfortable and high-quality. They’re very similar, so it depends on your personal preferences. 

Final Thoughts

To summarize, latex allergies are relatively common, but allergic reactions are not life-threatening. You can sleep on a latex mattress if you want to, but you should probably avoid it as much as possible and consult with your doctor. 

Remember to put your health first! Good luck finding your new mattress!

Reviews written by:

Katarina Pucijasevic - Junior author

Katarina is an Author at Anatomy of Sleep, full of fresh ideas and the drive to tackle things.
With real sleep issues during her studies, Kat had dug deep to figure out what was causing her irregular sleeping schedule, and it turned out a wrong, worn-out mattress topper was the culprit.
Thankfully today, she has no sleeping problem but does a lot of copywriting, proofreading, and content optimization on the theme of mattresses, sleeping products, and ways to sleep in the healthiest way possible.
She loves immersing herself in gothic fiction when not analyzing mattresses.

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