How do hypoallergenic mattress toppers work to prevent you from getting an allergic reaction? The obvious initial answer is because they lie on top of the mattress and prevent contact with it. However, that does not really answer the question because the issue is the range of allergens found in and on mattresses – and also in and on mattress toppers!
An allergen is a substance thing that causes an allergy. Those that suffer hay fever are allergic to pollen. Others are allergic to dust, and yet 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 fundamental issues with mattress allergies are dust and dust mites. It is these last two that hypoallergenic mattress toppers are designed to protect you from.
The Most Common Allergens in Your Mattress
The vast majority of the dust in your home comprises skin cells: human skin cells and pet dander. Each person in your household sheds around 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells every minute. Assuming you are in bed for 8 hours each night, you will shed upwards of 14.5 million skin cells a night. These cells are contained in your bedding and mattress.
With dust, of course, come dust mites. If you are unsure what dust mites are, check out this
Dust Mites and Their Poop: Dust mites don’t feed off you like fleas and some other mites do, but off your shed skin cells. They feed off the tiny skin cells and they poop! Dust mite poop consists of digested skin cells plus the powerful enzymes the mites use to break down the skin. This can lead to allergic reactions such as asthma. One way how hypoallergenic mattress toppers work is to prevent a build-up 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 item causing an allergy or separating the user from substances that could lead to an allergic reaction. Here is no official certification to indicate that an item could by hypoallergenic.
Mattress toppers and pads that are labelled as being hypoallergenic are stating that the item will not cause an allergic reaction in the majority of users. It does not mean that the mattress topper can cure allergies. What it means is that a hypoallergenic mattress topper can reduce the likelihood of allergens such as dust mites from getting onto your skin!
It may also prevent agents such as bacteria and others giving you an allergic reaction. Nothing can be described as “allergy proof” but can be claimed as reducing the likelihood of you getting an allergy: the generally accepted meaning of ‘hypoallergenic’.
Hypoallergenic toppers can come in more than one form. A mattress topper is designed to lie on top of your mattress and alter its properties: to make the sleeping surface softer or firmer. It can also be used to help prevent allergies. Some toppers come with dust mite covers encasing the topper.
This type of cover prevents skin cells and dust mites penetrating into your mattress topper. To achieve this, the weave of hypoallergenic mattress toppers has to be very fine – fine enough to keep the dust mites out of the topper. That means a fabric pore size of under 10 microns (100th of a millimetre – less than 0.4 thousandths of an inch.) Most dust mite covers found on hypoallergenic mattress toppers are less than this – in many cases below 6 microns.
Hypoallergenic mattress toppers are designed to protect you from, not only dust mites, but also from the skin cells, your pet’s skin cells (dander), hair and other forms of dirt that can make its way onto and into your mattress. By using a hypoallergenic mattress topper, you not only protect yourself from these allergens, but also from fluids such as sweat and the occasional accident.
Washing and Cleaning are Essential
Not only that, but mattress toppers can be removed and washed. The same is true of those that enclose the mattress. They not only keep allergens out, but protect you from those already in the mattress. Also, washing the topper can maximize the protection it offers and reduce the frequency of allergic reactions to the allergens that can infest your mattress – or your mattress topper!
The term ‘hypoallergenic materials’ refers to those that help prevent allergic reactions. There is no way of doing this other than using a high thread-count fabric that keeps allergens out and on the surface of your topper. You can then vacuum the surface or even wash the topper (or its cover if that is removable) to remove the allergens that tend to accumulate there.
So, How do Hypoallergenic Mattress Toppers Work?
No mattress is immune from the ingress of skin cells and dust mites. In the same way, no hypoallergenic mattress cover can destroy allergens. Reducing the risk of allergic reactions to dust mites and other allergens is not a matter of destroying the dust mites, but more of presenting a barrier to them.
In hospital, you may see mattresses wrapped in plastic (polypropylene or polyethylene. That is an ultimate hypoallergenic strategy, but not one you may want to use at home. Use a hypoallergenic mattress topper with finely woven fabric that prevents dust mites from getting through onto the surface of the topper or of the mattress.