From balloons and medical equipment to pacifiers and mattresses, latex has become an integral part of our daily lives. But why is it gaining such popularity? Why buy latex products? The material itself offers a natural solution to those opposed to synthetic and chemical-based product materials. It’s all natural and eco-friendly.
Latex mattresses themselves offer a host of positive health and physical benefits ranging from better back and body support to enhanced temperature regulation.
Latex Allergies and Latex Mattresses
If you’re in the market for a new mattress, narrowing your search down to a latex option over traditional spring or memory foam is a great start. Latex mattresses can offer a lot of health benefits to their owners, providing better circulation, back support, and comfort while you sleep. But if you also suffer from, or are worried about, latex allergies, it’s important to understand the whole picture.
Will a latex mattress make your allergy flare up? Can it cause a new allergy entirely? Let’s explore latex allergies and their relationships to your chosen sleep surface below.
The latex allergy
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, less than 1% of people in the US are allergic to latex. The allergy itself is a reaction to a protein found in Hevea Brasiliensis tree sap. Some people have allergic reactions by breathing in latex fibers in the air, and others have allergic reactions from direct skin content (like latex gloves).
The American Latex Allergy Association states that at least 13 distinct proteins have been identified and associated with latex sensitivities. One of the most common allergy-triggering proteins is derived from an active enzyme that’s involved in defending the latex plant from microbial attacks.
“In general, proteins that serve similar functions in different plants (whether genetically related or not) usually contain highly conserved sequences and three-dimensional structures, so it is not surprising to find plant defense or pathogenesis-related proteins with activities comparable to those found in latex in a wide variety of plants that include many common foods.”
Latex cross-reactive foods tend to include avocados, bananas, kiwis, papayas, and melons. If you’re allergic to those, or other similar foods, it’s entirely possible that you’ll be allergic to latex products as well.
Some people are more at risk than others. According to the FDA and The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 8 to 12 percent of health care workers are latex sensitive.
A study on latex allergies in an Italian hospital showed that powdered latex gloves are often the root of an allergic reaction. Over the course of three years, the study evaluated 1040 healthcare workers exposed to latex allergen for symptoms. The second evaluation was done in the following two years after changing their latex glove to powder-free. The results were clear- glove-related symptoms were seen in 21.8% of nurses, mostly consisting of mild dermatitis. Symptoms significantly improved and in most cases disappeared after the removal of powdered latex gloves from the facility.
There are three types of allergic reactions to latex:
- IgE-mediated allergic reactions (Type I). These are true allergic reactions involving the immune system, and they can be life threatening. Cure is to avoid latex entirely
- Cell-mediated contact dermatitis (Type IV)- usually an allergy to chemicals involved in the making of a latex product, not the latex protein itself.
- Irritant dermatitis- Irritant contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash that breaks out where latex has touched your skin. It appears 12 to 24 hours after contact.
How do you know if you have a latex allergy? Symptoms are usually pretty clear: runny nose, red eyes, sometimes a rash, and itchy skin. In severe cases, such as Type 1 IgE, reactions can include a swollen tongue or the affected can go into anaphylactic shock.
According to the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, the best treatment for a latex allergy is avoidance. If you work in the medical field, avoid latex gloves or anything made with the material. Those with severe cases should carry an epinephrine auto-injector for emergency treatment.
How do you know if you have a latex allergy? Aside from discovering the allergy via a reaction, a simple blood test can clear up any confusion.
Latex mattresses are widely considered to be the healthiest and most luxurious mattresses on the market, so it’s easy to see why they’re so in-demand. But what about those who suffer from latex allergies? Are they safe?
Latex mattress and allergy-safe conditions
It depends. If you suffer from a severe latex allergy, I recommend being extra cautious and staying away from latex mattresses and other latex products.
However, in the 40 years that our latex manufacturer has been in business, they’ve never had a registered complaint with the FDA.
We’re extra cautious to make sure that our latex mattresses are as healthy as possible. How? During the making of Talalay latex foam cores, the Talalay latex core goes through a 5 stage washer, where most of the particles that cause allergies to react are washed away. As stated above, a lot of allergic reactions stem from direct skin contact with the proteins in the latex.
With latex mattresses, you’ll rarely come in direct contact with the latex. The Zenhaven specifically has a soft cotton topper over the six layers of Talalay, removing any potential for direct skin contact.
Latex mattresses are the healthiest mattresses on the market. The reason rubber trees produce latex in the first place is to defend against invasive insects. It’s because of such that latex mattresses are naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to the dust mites, mold, mildew, and bed bugs that can sometimes plague memory foam or spring mattresses over time. The environment isn’t suitable to them.
A healthy sleep doesn’t stop there. Latex mattresses are made to naturally conform to your body, no matter your chosen sleeping position. You’ll also receive extra relief from pressure points, improved circulation, better temperature regulation (so you sleep at your optimal temperature), and overall improved rest.
The decision to start shopping for a new sleep surface isn’t easy, especially when allergies are involved. While those who are severely allergic should steer clear, latex mattresses as a whole are considered to be the healthiest and most durable option out there. If you don’t suffer from latex allergies, a latex mattress is your best bet. You’ll be sleeping soundly for decades to come (and even more so if you follow these mattress care tips).