Rubber latex is a material that can be produced both naturally and synthetically, and can then be processed into a number of different items that are used everyday around the world such as car tires, surgical gloves and of course, latex cores in mattresses. In the case of latex mattresses and other sleeping products made using rubber foam, manufacturers almost exclusively use natural latex to create their products. It is due to the fact that mattress companies use natural latex in their manufacturing process that many people are concerned that sleeping on a latex mattress may cause an allergic reaction.
Natural latex comes from the white, milky sap of the rubber tree that grows in tropical climates across three continents. Mattress manufacturers prefer to use natural latex in the production of their latex mattress cores due to the unique flexibility and breathability of natural latex compared to it’s synthetic counterpart. Unfortunately, this has led to a slight stigma against latex mattresses among people who suffer from or have experienced an allergic reaction after coming into contact with natural latex. The important thing to remember however, is that many people who have experienced latex allergies have done so after coming into direct contact only with certain items made out of natural latex, such as rubber surgical gloves. While it is true that items made from natural latex can cause allergies, medical studies have shown that not every item made from natural latex will cause an allergic reaction.
Although roughly 3-10% of people who work in the medical profession can’t wear surgical gloves made from natural latex due to allergies, these people could all sleep on a mattress with a natural latex core. This is true for a number of reasons, although it is mainly due to the simple fact that natural latex itself does not cause people to have an allergic reaction on their skin. It is actually the proteins that remain on moulded, unwashed latex that cause roughly 1 in 10,000 people to experience a skin rash or eye irritation. These proteins can be found on common items like surgical gloves because the rubber used to make the surgical gloves is processed differently that the rubber used for latex mattress cores. A latex mattress core is made of rubber that is vulcanized at a far higher temperature than the rubber used for a surgical glove. This is due to the fact that latex mattresses, along with car tires and upholstery cushions are designed to last for extended periods of time, and therefore the rubber requires further vulcanization to form a denser type of rubber polymer. As a result of this vulcanization process, along with the fact that skin never comes into direct contact with the rubber in a latex mattress, the latest studies have shown that there have never been any reports of allergic reactions caused by sleeping on a latex mattress.
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