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  • Writer's pictureThe Pillow People

Common Allergies in Pillows and the Solutions for Modern Pillow Design

A quality pillow can provide restful sleep, providing adequate support and comfort for people of all body types. However, as with many things today, there are some materials that will cause allergies in a small percentage of the population. The right pillow for one person is not necessarily perfect for the next, which is why different materials are available for pillows and materials on the retail and wholesale market.

Here we will explore the type of allergies that can be caused by pillows, and the best solutions to ensure that the end consumer is always getting exactly what they need.

Down Pillow Allergy

Down pillows are made from the natural feathers of waterfowl like geese and ducks. These pillows are incredibly soft, comfortable, and they offer excellent thermal properties. Down pillows are often seen as luxury pillows, used in expensive pillow sets and in the high-end hospitality industry.

While down pillows are desired by many people, they’re sometimes not suitable for small segments of the population. Natural down can cause allergies in some people, with various symptoms that can be used to identify the problem.

Symptoms are similar to hay fever and can be considered a form of allergic rhinitis. Sufferers can develop inflammation in the nose as the immune system tries to rid the body of allergens. Sufferers may immediately develop allergy symptoms when using a down pillow, or it may take some days or weeks for the effects to be noticed. Low quality down pillows can cause more irritation, as low-grade materials used on covers will allow for more allergen exposure.

Sufferers of down pillow allergy may develop respiratory problems and in rare cases rashes on the neck and face. In some cases, allergies may not be caused by the down, but from mites and mold that can develop in pillows that are improperly cared for. This is usually identified when a reaction develops long after owning a down pillow. Pillows should be replaced every two years and regularly washed to prevent dust, mold, and mites.

For sufferers who develop symptoms, a more hypoallergenic solution is required. Alternative fibers can provide qualities similar to natural down, without the allergic reaction. Polyester fibers are the best alternative for a soft pillow that has similar characteristics to a down pillow. Loose fill micro denier or gel polyester fibers are stronger than silk and much thinner. Fibers can last for years when properly packed in a pillow or cushion. Polyester fibers can be purchased in different densities to create pillows which have varying characteristics of softness and comfort.

Foam Pillow or Cushion Allergy

Natural down isn’t the only material that causes allergies in small segments of the population. Orthopedic pillows are typically made from foam or a combination of foam and fiber, and the foam in these pillows can also cause reactions in the most sensitive of people.

Foam manufactured using polyurethane could cause a very rare reaction in people who are allergic to the polymer. It is very difficult to pinpoint the cause of this allergy, as it can be related to up to 61 different chemicals that can be isolated in polyurethane foam. These chemicals are present in very low levels and are completely safe for the majority of the population, including children. However, in rare cases of polyurethane allergy, sufferers could develop dizziness, hives, rashes, flu like symptoms, and even memory problems that can be traced back to exposure to polyurethane.

Both standard foam and memory foam are made with polyurethane. For sufferers who note negative symptoms when using polyurethane cushions, orthopedic pillows, or even mattresses, it is recommended to switch to fiber pillows and cushions, or down pillows for sleeping.

Sufferers should also eliminate other possible causes of their symptoms, and medical consultation is recommended in most cases. Many allergies cause similar reactions, and some of these may even be seasonal. Even without medical consultation, sufferers may try alternating their pillows and bedding to identify the cause of allergy through a process of elimination.

Full disclosure during the sales process can also help to prevent allergic symptoms. Most adult consumers will already be aware if they have allergies, or, they will at least be aware of the type of pillows that they have used in the past. If they have never suffered a reaction to a foam or memory foam pillow, mattress etc. then it is likely that they won’t suffer any negative symptoms from using a pillow with a foam insert.

Florida’s Leading Pillow and Fiber Supplier

Pillows & Fibers Inc. provides custom cushions, pillows, and stuffing materials for use in the manufacture of bedding and furniture. A commitment to quality, transparency, and excellent customer service has allowed us to establish a reputation as one of the leading suppliers in Florida. Browse our consumer-ready products today or register as a wholesale customer for complete access to our pricing and inventory.

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