How do hypoallergenic mattress toppers work to prevent you from getting an allergic reaction? The first answer is obvious: because they lie on the mattress and prevent contact with the mattress. However, this does not really answer the question, because it is about the range of allergens found in and on mattresses – and also in and on mattress toppers!
An allergen is a substance that causes an allergy. Anyone who has hay fever is allergic to pollen. Others are allergic to dust, and others are allergic to peanuts, fish, eggs, cow milk, shellfish, and wheat. Hypoallergenic mattress toppers are not intended to protect you from these allergens. The basic problems with mattress allergies are dust and dust mites. It is exactly from these latter two that hypoallergenic mattress toppers are intended to protect you.
The Most Common Allergens in Your Mattress
The vast majority of the dust in your home consists of skin cells: human skin cells and animal hair. Each person in your household loses about 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells every minute. Assuming you are in bed for 8 hours every night, you will secrete more than 14.5 million skin cells every night. These cells are contained in your bedding and mattress.
Dust mites naturally come with the dust. If you are not sure what dust mites are, look here:
Dust mites and their droppings: Dust mites don’t feed on you like fleas and some other mites; they feed on your discarded skin cells. They feed on the tiny skin cells and they poop! Dust mites’ droppings consist of digested skin cells and the powerful enzymes that mites use to break down the skin. This can lead to allergic reactions like asthma. One way that hypoallergenic mattress toppers work is to prevent the accumulation of dust mites and their waste products.
What Is a Hypoallergenic Mattress Topper?
The term “hypoallergenic” has no specific medical definition. Its semantic meaning is “below allergy” and is used to describe a product that reduces the possibility of an object causing an allergy or separates the user from substances that could cause an allergic reaction. There is no official certification that an item may be hypoallergenic.
Mattress toppers and pillows that are labeled hypoallergenic indicate that the item will not cause an allergic reaction in the majority of users. This does not mean that the mattress topper can cure allergies. It rather means that a hypoallergenic mattress topper can reduce the likelihood of allergens such as dust mites getting on your skin!
It can also prevent agents such as bacteria and other substances from causing an allergic reaction. Nothing can be called “allergy-proof”, but it can be said that it reduces the likelihood of you getting an allergy, which is the generally accepted meaning of “hypoallergenic”.
Hypoallergenic toppers can come in more than one form. A mattress topper is designed to lie on your mattress and change its properties: it makes the sleeping surface softer or firmer. It can also be used to prevent allergies. Some mattress toppers are supplied with dust mite covers that cover the mattress topper.
This type of cover prevents skin cells and house dust mites from penetrating your mattress topper. To achieve this, the weave of the hypoallergenic mattress topper must be very fine – fine enough to keep the house dust mites away from the topper. This means that the pore size of the fabric is less than 10 microns (a 100th of a millimeter – less than 0.4 thousandth of an inch). Most house dust mite covers found on hypoallergenic mattress toppers are smaller – in many cases less than 6 microns.
Hypoallergenic mattress toppers are designed to protect you not only from house dust mites, but also from skin cells, skin flakes (dander) of your pet, hair, and other forms of dirt that can get on and into your mattress. When you use a hypoallergenic mattress topper, you are not only protecting yourself from these allergens, but also from fluids such as sweat and occasional accidents.
Washing and Cleaning are Essential
In addition, mattress toppers can be removed and washed. The same applies to those that enclose the mattress. They not only keep allergens away but also protect you from those already in the mattress. Washing the mattress topper can also maximize the protection it provides and reduce the frequency of allergic reactions to the allergens that can affect your mattress – or mattress topper.
The term “hypoallergenic materials” refers to those that help prevent allergic reactions. There is no other way to do this than to use a high thread count fabric that keeps the allergens away from the surface of your toppers. You can then vacuum the surface or even wash the topper (or its cover if it is removable) to remove the allergens that accumulate there.
So, How do Hypoallergenic Mattress Toppers Work?
No mattress is immune to the penetration of skin cells and dust mites. Neither can a hypoallergenic mattress cover destroy allergens. Reducing the risk of allergic reactions to house dust mites and other allergens is not about destroying the house dust mites, but rather about creating a barrier to them.
In hospital, you may see mattresses wrapped in plastic (polypropylene or polyethylene). This is an ultimate hypoallergenic strategy, but not one that you might want to use at home. Use a hypoallergenic mattress topper with fine fabric that prevents dust mites from getting on the surface of the topper or mattress.