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Why You’re Probably Not Allergic to Wool

By The House of Pillows Editorial Writers

1

Allergic to wool?

The chances are quite slim. Really.

Let us tell you why.

When we started The House of Pillows, we knew that we were only ever going to use 100% natural and organic materials. We knew how much better they are to sleep on, how much healthier they are for our overall health and wellness, and how much better they are for the environment.

Not to mention the fact that we believed in a more sustainable way of sleeping, living and running our business! We’ve been working in the sleep industry for years, before starting The House of Pillows. And, in our years we’ve came across many people who loved the idea of sleeping in natural materials. But there was one thing we couldn’t wrap our heads around:

 

“Why does everyone think they’re allergic to wool?”

Knowing what we know, we wanted to help inform more people about the benefits of wool. And why, in fact, they are most likely not allergic to wool.

If you’ve ever worn an itchy “wool” sweater, if you’ve ever found yourself sneezing around something made out of wool, you probably found yourself thinking: “Oh no ! I’m allergic to wool!”. 

Right?

Truth is, many people are actually not allergic to wool itself.

According to large scale allergy studies conducted at the Mass General Hospital, about 6% of people that came in for allergy testing actually were allergic to wool.

You may be asking now:

“If I’m not allergic to wool, then why can’t I wear wool sweaters without them itching and scratching my skin??”

2

How is wool generally produced?

Here’s the thing.

Wool is a lot like human hair: if it gets damaged, it won’t be nice and soft.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Most commercial wools are handled with no care what so ever for the long, soft fibres of the material, and thus, get they get damaged.

When a wool strand is broken, it will form tiny barbs on the broken ends, which is responsible for that “prickling” sensation on your skin. Commercial production aggravates the situation by adding sulphuric acid to strip any possible sediment from the wool. Yes, you read that right: sulphuric acid.

Problem is, that also strips all of the soft, natural lanolin, and it increases the brittle and coarse texture of the wool. And, if that weren’t enough, they also regularly add flame retardant and repellant (which come in the form of harsh, unnatural and polluting chemicals). However, flame retardant and repellant is only necessary because of the use of harsh chemicals they processed the wool before hand.

Why?

Because, the truth is that a healthy wool is naturally flame retardant. It is also naturally dust mite and moth resistant! The more you mess with it chemically, the more integrity is looses, and the more low quality the wool becomes.

Commercial wool is often a dry, coarse, scratchy irritating texture with very little fibre integrity left. So while most people are not allergic to wool, they can’t be in contact with commercial wool because of it’s coarse, dry, irritating texture.

We hate it too! That’s why we only used organic wool.

And, luckily, we’re not allergic to it. (Yay!)

3

You might have allergies/sensitivities

to dust mites

 

Now, here’s another MYTH we want to bust about organic wool. Many people think that wool encourages dust mites just because it’s more “natural”…

The fact?

Organic wool is actually one of THE best ways to avoid accumulation of dust mites in your bed!

If you’ve ever found yourself sneezing in bed with wool bedding, a good guess is that you have a dust mite allergy – and you’re not allergic to wool.

A dust mite is like a tiny white bug (but technically not an “insect”), that can only be seen under a microscope. Dust mites thrive in temperatures of 68 to 77 degrees fahrenheight (20 to 25 degrees celsius). And, they like high humidity levels (70 to 80 percent). They mainly feed on the tiny flakes of human skin that people shed each day.

Here are the symptoms of a dust mite allergy: sneezing, runny nose, itchy, red or watery eyes, stuffy nose, itchy nose, mouth or throat, postnasal drip and coughs.

And if asthma is being seemingly randomly triggered, it may be because of dust mites: difficulty breathing, chest tightness or pain, a whistling or wheezing sound when breathing out, trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing.

4

What are real wool allergies?

Now, we’re in no way saying that no one on this planet has allergies to wool.

Some people do. And if you suspect you’re one of them, you should get an allergy test before purchasing organic wool bedding.

But truth is, wool allergies are quite rare.

People who are actually allergic to wool get rashes just by being around wool, and touching wool.

The natural element in wool, that a very few people are allergic to, is called Lanolin.

Lanolin is the natural oil in wool, which gives wool its soft and cuddly texture. Commercial wool removes all the lanonlin present in the wool through their harsh processing of the wool, and that’s why it’s rarely soft to the touch.

Pure, organic wool by far is the highest in quality, because it hasn’t been stripped of the lanolin. It’s soft, fluffy and super cuddly! But sadly those who have lanolin allergies cannot be around it or touch it.

So, if you haven’t seen any rashes on your skin appear while just being near or touching organic wool (which has the highest content of lanolin), then chances are, you’re not allergic to wool.

The 100% Organic & Hypoallergenic Zoe Duvet

5

Why organic wool pillows and bedding is great if you have sensitive skin or allergies

 

So, most of you will establish by now that high chances are: You’re probably not allergic to wool.

You just hate the feel of processed, commercial wool against your skin.

In case you’re in the mood to wooly up your life after this new discovery, and catch up for all the lost time of not benefiting from the amazing benefits of wool… Then, you should know more about it to make an informed decision about what you should get!

6

What kind of wool?

Organic wool is the best way to go in terms of allergies to dust-mites, which can activate asthma. No good if you want a great night’s sleep. It’s also good if you’re quite sensitive to a lot of other allergens, too.

Why?

Because organic wool great if you want a clean, fresh, hypoallergenic bed.

Indeed, organic wool is not only hypoallergenic, it also resists bacterias and microbes, which is great if you’re trying to make your bedroom as hygienic as possible for you and your family.

Another fun fact?

Unlike synthetic materials, which actually create a perfect environment for dust mite accumulation, organic wool’s properties are actually very inhospitable to dust mites.

Why?

Due to the natural microscopic bristles on the wool fibres (so small you can’t feel them), and the fact that wool is able to suck up a 2/3 of its weight in moisture, while still feeling completely dry!

So, organic wool keeps dustmites and moisture at bay! Great!

Organic wool is one of the best choices if you’re searching for non-allergen filled pillows that are going to keep your bed nice and fresh all year.

Who likes the sound of that?

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What are allergen fillers?

Now you know what fillers are great for keeping your bed fresh and allergen-free.

But you might be wondering what fillers increase the amount of allergens and bacteria. Here’s the low down:

Allergen fillers include:

  • down, feathers and,
  • all synthetic fillers, especially polyester.

These are the top fillers which are most likely going to contain dust mites, and even mold, mildew, fungus, and bacteria, after just a short period of use – no matter how much money you invested in them.

You’ll have to replace them on a regular basis, they’re not bio-degradable, and just cause landfills to fill up more and more!

Did you know it takes can take up to  200 years for polyester to bio-degrade?

For comparison, 100% wool only takes 1 year to completely bio-degrade, and 100% cotton only 5 months!

Lets just say that if your pillows/bedding/anything take more than 2 lifetimes to bio-degrade, that’s probably not a great sign for the environment…

Conclusion

So, organic wool bedding is something you should consider if you’re looking to reduce dust mites from your bedroom, keep your bed nice and fresh and keep allergens out.

And, you probably are not allergic to wool.

However, if you suspect that you are among the very few number who are indeed allergic to it, you should  go to your doctor and ask for an allergy test. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of organic wool and organic wool bedding, visit this page!

Read more about all the benefits of organic wool and organic wool bedding here (there’s a long list of them! and an infographic!).

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