Memory Foam Mattress Allergy Symptoms – What They Are and What Can Help

Written by: Andjela Kastratovic
Updated: 07/25/2023

Sleeping well is extremely important for our health, but many things can negatively impact that, from back pain to our mattress and even allergies. 

You might not have known that even your mattress can cause allergies. There are a couple of mattress types, but today we’ll focus on memory foam. What do you think? Are you allergic to memory foam? 

Welcome to our memory foam allergy guide, where we’ll answer all your questions. Let’s get into it. 

What Is Memory Foam?

Memory foam is a viscoelastic mattress material first used by NASA for aircraft seats. It’s created from polyurethane foam with added chemicals that make it soft and elastic. 

Memory foam is a popular mattress because it offers pressure relief and contouring. It can also be used for other bed accessories, like pillows and mattress covers. 

The biggest problem with foam is its poor temperature regulation capabilities, which are especially bad for hot sleepers. However, new foams that can handle the heat better are being made today. 

How Can Memory Foam Cause an Allergic Reaction?

Allergic reactions depend on your immune system; many things can trigger them. Your mattress is where you spend at least 6 to 8 hours every night, so it could be the culprit behind your watery eyes. 

Here are some things in a memory foam bed that could be causing your allergic reaction. 


As mentioned before, foam mattresses are treated with chemicals to help make the foam more comfortable and fireproof. 

But these harmful substances could hurt you, the sleeper. This is why packaged mattresses, especially beds-in-a-box, must be aired once you open them.

Chemicals that make memory foam fire-retardant are often to blame for allergic reactions, but others can also impact you. One of them is called isocyanate, a chemical found in foam that can trigger asthma attacks and other symptoms of allergies. 

If you’re looking to sleep on a memory mattress without harmful chemicals, look for one with a CertiPUR-US certification. 


Allergic reactions can also be caused by the smell of the mattress, which is also directly connected to chemical compounds. Some memory foam mattresses contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which get released into the air when you open the bed. 

A strong chemical odor can trigger an allergic reaction, so airing a mattress and using mattress toppers and protectors is important. 

Dust Mites

Dust is all around us; even our bodies produce dead skin cells that can cover our mattresses. Dust mites, tiny pests that can live on your mattress, eat these skin cells and they can trigger allergic reactions. 

Dust mite allergy is caused by dust mite feces, not bed bugs. Memory foam mattresses are slightly more immune to dust mites than other types, but not completely. Also, remember that dust mites can live anywhere, even in your memory foam pillows, carpets, and other materials.

Heat Rash

One of the traits memory foam mattresses is notorious for is trapping body heat. The material lacks breathability, and sleeping on it can cause heat skin rashes from too much irritation. 

This isn’t a direct allergy, but it can still be a symptom you’ll have to deal with, especially if you sleep hot.

Memory Foam Mattress Allergy Symptoms

Allergy symptoms come in many shapes and sizes, and most of the time, it’s hard to figure out what’s triggering them. But if you think memory foam is the culprit of your puffy eyes and runny nose, here’s what you should know. 


Rashes and hives are among the most common memory foam allergy symptoms. Since you’re in direct or indirect contact with your mattress, most of the time, your skin can get irritated and red. 

Large or small, rashes indicate that your mattress could be the problem. 

Runny Nose

A runny or stuffy nose, with some sneezing and even a sore throat, is an excellent example of an allergy symptom. The problem is many things can trigger it.

You don’t necessarily have to be sensitive to your mattress to get a runny nose or itchy eyes. It could also be a sign of a common cold or some other allergy. Still, it’s worth looking into if you’re sleeping on memory foam. 


Even though it’s less common, feeling like you’re going to be sick can also be an allergy symptom. However, being nauseous can also be a sign of other medical problems, and it’s not just about where you sleep. 


If you often feel headaches or dizziness, notably at home, you could be experiencing an allergic reaction to your mattress. This can usually be caused by chemicals in foam and could even lead to fainting. Watch out for signs that your mattress might be a guilty party!

How to Avoid a Memory Foam Mattress Allergy

Allergic reactions can be irritating and dangerous, and they’re even worse when your mattress causes them. Luckily, we have some tips for you that can help you avoid and mitigate them!


The one thing you need to do, especially if you’re getting a bed-in-a-box made of memory foam, is to let it air out. Off-gassing is a process that happens when you unpack the mattress and the chemicals and VOCs get out. 

These aren’t that dangerous, but they can irritate and cause allergies. The off-gassing time depends on the mattress, so follow instructions. Most beds take about two days to off-gas, but it’s always good to prolong that. 

Keep Your Mattress Clean

Cleaning your mattress and other bed accessories often can minimize allergic reactions to dust, dust mites, and other allergens. You can get rid of dust from your mattress and mattress topper by vacuuming them and using baking soda. Also, change your pillow and wash your sheets and other bedding at higher temperatures at least once a week.

Mattress Protector

Using a mattress protector can protect you from the chemicals in the mattress, but it can also partially safeguard the mattress from dust mites. All in all, it’s a win-win situation. 

To ensure that it’s as effective as possible against allergens, use a mattress protector made from organic materials, like organic cotton, and wash it from time to time. You could also use plastic protectors for intense protection.

No Pets on the Bed

We know you love your pets, but they shouldn’t sleep in your bed if you suffer from allergies. Besides carrying bugs and maybe pieces of outside plants that could be allergens, pet dander can also worsen the problem with dust mites. Pet dander, combined with dead skin cells from your body and other dust, can make a good place for dust mites.


Dust mites thrive in warm and humid climates, so if you want to win the war against them, you can also use a dehumidifier. Or you can lower the temperature in your bedroom and your home. 

Change Your Mattress

Lastly, it could be time to get rid of your mattress. It might be too old and dusty, with wear and tear signs. Old beds aren’t only bad for your allergy symptoms; they tend to come with inadequate support and other things that can impact your health and sleep quality. 

Your pillow could be the problem as well! Make sure all of your bed accessories are clean. 

Memory Foam Alternatives for Allergy Sufferers

If memory foam triggers your allergies and you can’t seem to mitigate them, you should probably try a different material.

The first thing you need to remember is that there are no completely hypoallergenic mattresses, but some are better than others.

First, you can try looking for an organic mattress with natural and less harmful materials. This usually comes in the form of latex beds, which are claimed to be hypoallergenic mattresses. However, all mattresses could harbor dust mites, so keep that in mind. 

Also, some people have a latex allergy caused by natural ingredients in the rubber tree sap. If you suffer from latex allergies, don’t worry unless you’re in direct contact with your latex mattress. Putting a mattress cover on your latex mattress can keep you from getting a latex allergy.

And if you’re not ready to get a new mattress, you can always get an organic mattress topper. These are also hypoallergenic and are usually made from natural latex. That being said, natural latex is the better choice if you aren’t allergic to latex. 

Innerspring mattresses can also be a good choice because of their breathability, but their construction means they can be filled with dust mites. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Mattress Covers Help With Allergies?

The short answer is yes. 

Mattress covers can help mitigate allergens and symptoms. Choose an organic mattress cover and make sure to keep it clean. However, keep in mind that they’re not a complete solution. 

Can Dust Mites Live in a Memory Foam Mattress?

Some manufacturers will claim that their mattresses are dust mite-free, but that’s impossible. Dust mites can live everywhere, from your pillows to your bedding, and the only way to mitigate them is to keep a clean mattress, a clean bedroom, and a clean house. 

The good news is that memory foam can be easily cleaned and vacuumed, and mattress protectors can also help with dust mites.

Can Memory Foam Be Bad for Asthma?

If you have asthma, some of the chemicals in the foams may irritate your lungs and aggravate your condition. If you notice that this problem is getting worse even when there is no pollen or other allergens in the outside world, your mattress could be the offender. 

Final Thoughts

Allergies are tough to handle, and many things can cause them. We hope this article helped you determine whether your memory foam mattress is the culprit. 

If you want to battle your allergies, check certifications so your bed is without irritating chemicals, keep it clean, and use a mattress protector

Good luck!

Reviews written by:

Andjela Kastratovic - Co-editor

Anđela is a content writer by the day and an Illustrator by night. She loves anything creative, but sleep takes the cake – that’s why she enjoys writing for Anatomy of Sleep so much!

While in high school, she got accepted for her dream job – a ‘professional sleeper’. Her job was to test new mattresses from a local mattress brand and write reports on the quality of sleep. Ever since then, she’s been in love with reviewing mattresses and putting her compelling research into ultimate buyer’s guides. While not exploring the latest brands, she likes to illustrate and spend time with her dog and friends.