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Is My Memory Foam Mattress Causing My Skin to Itch?

Is My Memory Foam Mattress Causing My Skin to Itch?

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It’s common to experience some drastic differences as you adjust to a new mattress, especially if you’ve most recently transitioned to a memory foam mattress. If you're experiencing an itchy skin problem, your memory foam mattress could be the culprit. Memory foam is known for its ability to contour to your body and provide support, but some people find that this material can also lead to skin irritation.

If you're noticing an increase in skin problems since purchasing a memory foam mattress, here are a few tips on what may be causing this issue, and how to fix it.

What are Memory Foam Mattresses Made of?

Memory foam mattresses have quickly become one of the most modern and popular styles of mattresses on the market today. It’s known for its dense material and durability to mold and support our bodies while we sleep. This technology is a great option for contouring, and makes a great candidate for any style sleeper! 

It’s not always the case that memory foam materials consist of harmful or irritating ingredients, but in some brands, that may very well be the case. If you find that your skin has developed rashes, has become irritated in some way, or even itchy since bringing home your new memory foam mattress, it may due to the ingredients that make up a memory foam mattress. 

The two main components of this style of mattress are primarily a memory foam layer, and a core foam layer—both are made of polyurethane. They are wrapped together in a singular material and typically have a flameproof component in order to meet federal safety regulations.

Today’s modern brands are getting creative with other materials to help repel heat retention in its dense material. This can include a gel layer, or even a gel-infused foam, cotton, wool, or even latex. If you are allergic to any of these materials, you may have just solved your itchy skin dilemma! 

Most reactions, however, typically come from the fire-proofing chemicals placed on the outer surface. This layer can consist of formaldehyde, a carcinogen such as methylene aniline, and/or an eye-irritant such as vinylidene chloride.

Why and How is My Skin Reacting to the Memory Foam?

Although there are numerous ways that materials can cause allergic reactions, it’s easy to say in this case that direct skin contact may be the issue. Other forms of body reaction may be from inhalation of dust, smells from the material’s ingredients, or even reactions to the chemical composition itself. Let’s take a closer look at how these may affect your itchy skin:


DUST:

Dust mites thrive off of our dead skin cells. It’s noted that humans can shed anywhere between 30,000-40,000 dead skin cells every hour!

Since we spend many hours sleeping in our beds, it makes a mattress environment a feasting haven for these little critters. However, it’s important to note that it’s not the dust mites themselves that we become allergic to, but rather our own body’s response to them as a harmful substance. This causes our body to produce antibodies as a response similar to an illness or disease. This is primarily what causes the redness, puffiness, or even rash-like response. 

Organic mattress covers can be a great solution to this issue, as they are easy to remove, wash, and reapply when needed. Needless to say, mattresses aren’t the easiest to clean and/or wash, so it’s important to be aware of its maintenance (refer to the recommended instructions advised by your retailer), and clean around the room as often and thoroughly as possible, to avoid unnecessary dust everywhere.


SMELL:

Memory foam mattresses have different ways of being packaged and delivered. One of the most popular packaging methods consists of the mattress being compressed into a box, or it’s tightly rolled and plastic-wrapped. These packaging approaches make the mattress easy to carry, and even fits into your car, making same-day purchases easy and no delivery is necessary. It helps save everyone time and money!

The problem with this method, however, is that mattresses consisting of fire-proofing chemicals, and other surface-protecting sprays, remain concentrated until you unwrap the mattress for the first time at home. Most retailers will advise you to allow the mattress to fully inflate on its own for the first 24-hours, and that there be proper ventilation in the room to allow for off-gassing to occur. This procedure causes a smell and volatile organic compounds are created and released during the off-gassing stage. These substances aren’t always the cause for allergic reactions but have been known to be the culprit in some cases. 


CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS:

It’s well-known that knowledge and understanding of chemical ingredients are vital when it comes to anything you choose to put in your body, or on your body. It’s no different when it comes to what you choose to sleep on. A mattress is constructed with so many different parts and materials, that it’s crucial to read the labels and better understand what you’re paying for—especially if you already have awareness around your body’s response to specific ingredients. 

The protective chemicals protecting the very nature of memory foam mattresses are necessary but are highly concentrated within the first month of sleeping on your mattress. It’s important to be cautious of what you can do to better protect your skin during this time. Organic mattress covers or toppers can be a great solution to assisting in repelling some of its effects. 

Allowing the mattress to breathe for a day or two prior to using it, is always an important suggestion and recommendation to any mattress, as well. Another suggestion would be to purchase an erect mattress, as opposed to a box-packaged mattress. They will most likely come wrapped in a plastic protective layer, but the off-gassing will certainly not be as concentrated. 

Conclusion

The most important step you can take in becoming aware of your skin’s itchy reaction is to know what exactly is causing it in the first place. We always recommend that you see your medical physician and consider an allergy test if you have never had pre-existing experiences like this before. Secondly, do some research prior to purchasing your memory foam mattress to know exactly what your it’s comprised of, and even how it’s made, if possible. 

Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask a professional in the industry or even a knowledgeable retail consultant for the facts of the product. If there’s ultimately no way of avoiding specific components of the materials, we suggest getting creative with covers, sheets, and toppers instead to better avoid this unpleasant reaction.

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