Foam latex bedding is growing in popularity as a green, non-toxic, luxury mattress. But can you use a latex bed if you have latex allergies?
Most latex allergies and sensitivities are actually a reaction to proteins that are naturally occurring in botanical latex. Latex contains more than 60 protein-based allergens. In the manufacturing process that produces the material used in latex gloves, catheters, and other medical materials (even condoms), the allergen-causing proteins are still present in the final product.
Those proteins can be contacted by an allergy sufferer when they touch the surface of the rubber, or chemically adsorbed to the powder that coats the insides of most gloves – so the allergic reactions can either be a result of direct contact on the skin or to inhaling the powder. The results can be a skin rash, sneezing and coughing, asthma – or even anaphylactic reactions like the swelling that causes airways to close in rare cases of latex hypersensitivity.
Foam Latex Production
The manufacturing of most medical latex is a cold-dipped vulcanization process that produces rubber with a high elasticity and a closed cellular structure. In contrast, the vulcanization process used in the production of latex foam produces thick, supportive foam with an open cell structure.
This open structure allows the allergy-inducing proteins to be washed from the foam before the mattress is even completed. Most mattresses go through five or more separate washes and are wrung completely dry with industrial-strength rollers, producing a finished product that is safe even for suffers of latex allergies.
If you have a latex hypersensitivity that’s severe enough to cause death, it’s probably not worth it to try sleeping on a latex mattress. But for most sufferers of more mild latex allergies, a latex mattress should pose no problem.
Your body will probably never come into contact with the latex foam itself, since the mattress interior will be covered by a fire-resistant barrier and sheets. And since any airborne proteins that could cause a reaction have been washed from the foam before the mattress ever reaches your home, you should be able to sleep soundly on a latex mattress with no health concerns whatsoever.
If you suffer from other allergies, a latex mattress can be an excellent choice. Latex is naturally hypoallergenic, since it discourages the growth of mold and mildew, minimizes dust buildup due to the natural airflow through the open cell structure, and repels dust mites and other allergy-inflicting microscopic critters.
Do you have latex allergies? Have you tried sleeping on a latex foam mattress?