Mattresses are the cause of a variety of allergies. The coil/spring mattress is the most common mattress to incite allergic reactions. It is therefore important for allergy sufferers to be well informed about the allergens found in mattresses. However, some people also have allergic reactions to memory foam and latex mattresses.
Many mattresses use latex as top layers in inner-springs; sometimes, latex replaces the mattress "core."
Latex allergies develop after sensitising contact with the material. The allergy is actually caused by the proteins in rubber used to make natural rubber latex. Symptoms of latex allergies can include skin rash, hives, asthma, wheezing and itching.
Mold is a spore present in most places, outdoors and indoors. It is a type of fungus that breaks down dead material and attempts to return nutrients to the environment. Mold can attack anything from leaves to wood, as well as everyday foods like bread. It grows quickly in most dark places. Going to bed with wet hair can cause mould to develop on a mattress.
Though many people are exposed to mould every day with no severe effects, some allergic reactions may happen if a person is exposed to too much of it. Common symptoms are hives, sneezing, itchiness and watering or redness of the eyes.
Some people have chemical sensitivities or are simply allergic to some chemicals that are in mattresses. Many mattresses include chemicals such as flame-retardants, petroleum-based foams, fungicides and pesticides. These chemicals are concentrated in the surface of a mattress and absorbed through a person's skin and by breathing in the odour. Chemicals also appear in the glue used to manufacture certain mattresses. Symptoms of chemical sensitivities are similar to those of regular allergies: itchiness, hives, watering or redness of the eyes and sneezing.
Dust mites are microscopic bugs that live and feed on dead skin cells shed from humans and animals. They are too small to be seen by the naked eye. Though mites don't carry diseases, allergic reactions are normally caused by their droppings. People who are asthmatic and allergic to their faeces are more at risk.
A typical mattress can contain up to 10 million mites inside and each mite can produce up to 20 droppings each day. Though they are generally harmless, allergic reaction symptoms include hay fever, watery eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion and asthma.
Although they are similar in size and appearance, bed bugs and dust mites are not the same creature. Bed bugs derive from the family of Cimicidae. They acquired their name from their favourite nesting location: beds and mattresses. They live on human and animal blood and are mostly nocturnal. They can go up to a year without food, can travel long distances and survive easily in small spaces.
Most reactions to bed bugs are due to their bites. Their bites resemble flea and mosquito bites, a flat welt or raised red bump, and often itch. The red mark is due to the saliva injected during feeding. Their only difference with the flea bite is that they do not have a red dot in the centre. Unlike mosquito bites, they last longer periods and may take up to nine days to appear.