At Woolroom, we spend a whole heap of our time discussing the merits of wool and what makes it so great for pillows, comforters, and the like. Here’s what you can expect from hypoallergenic wool bedding.
What Is ‘Hypoallergenic’?It may be a surprise to hear that hypoallergenic is not actually a medical or even scientific term. It was a word made up by marketers to sell cosmetics in the ‘50s. There are, in fact, no US government standards that a product must meet to put ‘hypoallergenic’ on its label. So, does that make it meaningless?
Hypoallergenic has come to mean ‘allergy friendly’ and is used as a way to promise fewer health risks to allergy sufferers. Due to the complex nature of allergies, there can never be any guarantees that a product won’t cause a flare-up, but hypoallergenic products should cause fewer allergic reactions than other equivalent products.
Because there’s no guarantee that a product won’t cause allergy flare-ups, it’s always a good idea to ask questions before you buy. If you're looking for the best pillows for allergy sufferers or bedding for asthma sufferers, find out what makes a manufacturer claim their product is hypoallergenic. From there you can decide if what they have to offer will benefit you.
Why Is Wool Hypoallergenic?Here are four reasons why wool is hypoallergenic and makes the best hypoallergenic pillows, comforters, and other bedding.
Wool Guards Against Dust MitesMany nighttime allergies and stuffy noses are caused by the dreaded dust mite and friends. These nasties can cause respiratory problems in those that are susceptible, particularly asthma sufferers. But choosing hypoallergenic wool bedding can help. The natural fibers in wool absorb and desorb moisture creating a dry environment that is hostile to the growth of bacteria, fungus, and dust mites. It’s how sheep stay healthy outdoors year-round.
But it’s also why we claim that wool is perfect for producing hypoallergenic pillows and bedding that reduce respiratory allergies in the bedroom. Want to know what the most hypoallergenic mattress is? The answer is a mattress made from high-quality wool.
Side note: Unfortunately, if you google ‘dust mites and wool,’ you’ll find many sources that contradict this. All these claims stem from a study conducted in the 1970s. However, this research took place on a tropical island where temperatures were 100°F+ with high humidity. In our view, the extreme conditions allowed dust mites to breed in the wool used.
Fewer Dust Particles Are Created by WoolTiny particles from many materials can cause respiratory problems when they’re breathed in — particularly in asthmatics. Because of the weight of wool fibers, it is far less likely that this will be an issue than in other materials such as feather or down. This is another reason that hypoallergenic wool pillows are far less likely to cause nighttime snuffles, even when your head is pressed into them. The best pillows for allergy sufferers and bedding for asthma sufferers is anything made from wool, so why not check out our hypoallergenic bed sets while you’re here?
It’s worth noting here that if you’d asked, ‘is down hypoallergenic?’ you’d have received a very different response!
Unsure of whether you may be allergic to dust mites or fungal spores? Read more about common night-time allergy symptoms to see if hypoallergenic bedding could help you.
Wool Absorbs Harmful VOCsVOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are floating all around us. Whether toxins come from car exhausts, paints, glues, plastics, or cleaning products — VOCs are a hard-to-escape fact of modern life, and they can have a real effect on allergy sufferers. Wool, however, has a little trick up its sleeve. It absorbs these invisible nasties and keeps them trapped in its fibers. This means that a hypoallergenic comforter and non-allergenic pillows can actually clean the air around you while you sleep. Amazing, huh?
Contrary to Popular Belief, Wool Fibers Won’t Irritate the SkinWe often speak to people who believe they are allergic to wool. This is almost never true. People who experience skin irritation from wool are usually allergic to lanolin, the oils found within wool, rather than the fibers themselves. This lanolin is usually washed out during the process of making wool products. Therefore, bedding sets made from hypoallergenic wool will contain no trace of this irritant.
Can You Be Allergic to Wool?Many people think that feeling an itch from their scratchy wool sweater means they’re allergic to wool, but that’s usually not the case. It is a common misconception that wool is an allergen, and research by the Woolmark Company concluded that the reason for the itchiness and prickle is not the fiber type but rather the large diameter of the fibers. Not only is wool not an allergen, but it has actually been proven to be beneficial for dermatitis and eczema sufferers.
Wool SensitivityGenerally, coarse, prickly fibers (not just wool) may cause sensitivity and itching, not allergies. People who show skin sensitivity to coarse wool products usually find other rough fabrics uncomfortable as well. Symptoms of a true allergic reaction include:
- Itchy, red, and puffy eyes
- Runny nose
To avoid irritation, look for fibers with a low micron count. Fibers that have a low micron count will be softer and less prickly on the skin. Look for fibers with less than 24 microns in diameter to prevent discomfort.
General Discomfort From MaterialsPeople with sensitive skin are sometimes recommended synthetic fibers as an alternative to wool; however, synthetic fabrics can still contain coarse fibers of a higher micron. That’s why it’s important for consumers who prefer synthetic fabrics to look beyond the care label to determine whether the fabric is suitable for their skin.
Many fabrics contain chemicals that can cause a reaction or intolerance to certain fabrics. Chemicals are often used when dyeing fibers, spinning yarn, constructing fabric, and finishing the fabric. Labeling laws make it difficult for consumers to know what chemicals are in their fabrics before coming in contact with their skin, and if people do have a reaction, it’s difficult to know what chemicals caused it. Choose natural hypoallergenic wool without chemically finished qualities and choose lighter colors with fewer dyes to lessen the chance of a reaction.