7 Best Hypoallergenic Pillows for People With Allergies
Allergies can often be debilitating to deal with, but making simple lifestyle changes, such as choosing the right hypoallergenic pillow, can help. Here are allergists' top picks.
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Hypoallergenic pillows for allergy sufferers
Some people can’t imagine inviting a pet into bed. Others snuggle their furry friend each night. But if there’s one thing everyone can agree on it’s that nobody wants to go to bed with bugs.
Unfortunately, avoiding the critters is pretty much impossible, at least when you consider dust mites, microscopic bugs living in your home.
They’re one of the most common allergy triggers. And if you’re one of the more than 50 million Americans who live with allergies, you might feel their effects—namely, sneezing, sniffling, or coughing.
These mites often gather and stay in your sleep environment, including your pillow. You can’t avoid them, but you can take steps to minimize your contact, starting with investing in a hypoallergenic pillow.
How allergies happen
Allergies occur when you’re exposed to an allergen, an otherwise harmless substance that your immune system mistakenly treats as a threat, says Ama Alexis, MD, a pediatric and adult allergist and immunologist at Mount Sinai West Hospital in New York City.
The most common triggers of allergies are food, medication, pollen, dust, animal dander, mold, medication, and latex, according to Dr. Alexis.
And these allergies are on the rise.
If you have an allergy and your body encounters an allergen, it attacks.
“The body’s immune system responds by releasing an allergic cell [known as immunoglobulin E, or IgE], which then mounts either a mild reaction or a severe—even life-threatening—reaction,” she explains.
Signs of an allergy
Allergy symptoms might involve either a localized or full-body reaction and range from pesky to downright dangerous. They include:
- Watery, itchy eyes
- Puffy eyelids,
- Stuffy nose
- Itchy and red skin
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- Drop in blood pressure
- Anaphylactic shock, a serious and sometimes fatal reaction
Bad pillow, worse sleep
“Pillows can accumulate dust mites, and inhaling the dust mite allergen can cause rhinitis and asthma,” says Schuman Tam, MD, an allergy, asthma, and immunology specialist at MarinHealth hospital in Greenbrae, California.
The older the pillow, the more likely it is to contain a lot of dust mites, dust mite particles, and dust mite feces, according to Dr. Alexis.
“While none of these particles are visible to the naked eye, you may develop a congested nose as soon as you lay down to sleep, or you may awaken with puffy eyes every morning,” she says. “So sleeping on a pillow for multiple hours every night that hosts a ton of allergens can be problematic if you have allergies, eczema, or asthma and are allergic to dust mites.”
(That’s just one way your messy house is making you sick.)
The difference hypoallergenic pillows make
Luckily, certain pillows are hypoallergenic, which means that they can prevent allergens, such as dust mites, mold, animal dander, or pollen, from entering and gathering within the pillow over time.
They have special casings that serve as a barrier between dust mites and you.
“By putting the pillows into a special encasement, one can contain the dust mites inside the pillow casing, thus preventing allergy,” says Dr. Tam.
While you’re making big changes, invest in mattress and pillowcase protectors and set a schedule so you’re sure to change your sheets regularly.
What should you look for in a hypoallergenic pillow?
When shopping for a hypoallergenic pillow, focus on the following three features, which allergy doctors say make all the difference. And consider doubling up by covering your hypoallergenic pillow with dust mite covers.
Finely woven fabrics
Dr. Alexis recommends checking to make sure that the fabric covering the pillow won’t allow allergens to permeate and thrive within.
“A lot of research shows that finely woven fabrics for pillowcases or pillows will prevent allergens, especially dust mites, from permeating the covers while offering breathability,” says Dr. Alexis.
According to Dr. Alexis, foam pillows don’t allow significant dust mite growth because the bugs have a harder time permeating the pillow.
“Foam pillows and very closely woven fabrics, which are breathable, have been proven to be helpful,” she says, cautioning that they may be difficult to wash regularly.
While getting a hypoallergenic pillow may help your allergies, getting a poorly fitting pillow can leave you with neck pain instead. You don’t want to trade one ailment for another, so put comfort at the top of your wish list.
Any pillow you choose should be comfortable and feel the right height for your head and neck.
Dust mite covers
In addition to choosing a hypoallergenic pillow, Dr. Alexis recommends investing in dust mite covers to keep the pillow clean.
“The pillow covers can then be washed in warm water once weekly,” she says.
The best hypoallergenic pillows
Ready to shop hypoallergenic pillows? Here are some of the top-rated brands on the market today.
Mission Allergen-Proof Pillow
Andrew T. Dang, MD, a pediatric allergist with Premier Allergy & Asthma in Ohio, recommends the Mission brand, which encases its pillows in a woven microfiber barrier. With a pore size of two microns, the barrier can keep out dust mites and other allergens.
The stuffing holds its structure over time and is preferred by side sleepers.
Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow
This pillow from Coop Home Goods is both hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant, thanks to its outer fabric that does not allow these allergens to permeate.
In addition to its top reviews for comfort (for all sleep types), it is also Greenguard Gold and CertiPUR-US certified, which means it meets high standards for creating products that do not pose chemical threats to humans.
(These are common indoor allergens.)
Viewstar Hypoallergenic Pillow for Side and Back Sleepers
If you prefer to sleep on either your side or back, this Viewstar set of two hypoallergenic pillows is a great option.
Both the pillow cover and the microfiber filling are dust mite resistant to ensure that your allergies don’t keep you awake all night. The pillows are also machine washable and can be tumble dried on low.
WonderSleep Dream Rite Shredded Hypoallergenic Memory Foam Pillow
WonderSleep’s hypoallergenic Dream Rite pillow filling is 80 percent shredded memory foam and 20 percent polyester fiber, which makes for a comfortable yet supportive night’s sleep.
It is cooling, thanks to its bamboo and polyester cover, and is both dust mite resistant and machine washable, so you never have to worry about it feeling “dirty” in any way.
(Here are some ways allergists allergy-proof their homes.)
Beckham Hotel Collection Bed Pillows
If you love the feel of hotel pillows but want to make sure you invest in a hypoallergenic variety, this set of two from the Beckham Hotel Collection is a great choice.
Thanks to their gel fiber filling, they’re super plush and maintain their shape over time. They are also fade and stain resistant.
Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
Thanks to its bamboo fabric, this Xtreme Comforts hypoallergenic pillow is ideal for those who tend to run hot during the night. It is made from shredded memory foam, so it’ll mold to your head and keep its shape over time—no lumps or uneven surfaces to keep you tossing and turning.
In addition to being allergy-friendly, it’s also machine washable for easy cleaning.
Snuggle-Pedic Memory Foam Pillow
Here’s another hypoallergenic pillow designed to keep you cool, even on hotter-than-normal nights. It allows for maximum breathability.
The Snuggle-Pedic‘s soft bamboo fabric will be gentle against your skin, and it’s Greenguard Gold certified, so you can rest assured it doesn’t contain toxic chemicals.
Now that you know about these hypoallergenic pillows, check out these other things allergists wish you knew.
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Allergy Facts and Figures"
- Ama Alexis, MD, pediatric and adult allergist and immunologist at Mount Sinai West Hospital in New York City and an expert for Inlightened
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: Dust Mite Allergy
- Schuman Tam, MD, Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology specialist at MarinHealth in Greenbrae, California
- Andrew T. Dang, MD, pediatric allergist with Premier Allergy & Asthma in Ohio