Down Pillows: Allergen Considerations

Down pillows are one of the most popular types of pillows, and for good reason. Feather pillows are comfortable, moldable and firm enough to support your head and neck as you sleep. Unfortunately, down allergies prevent some people from using down pillows. Understanding the symptoms of down allergies, as well as alternative down pillow options for allergy sufferers, will help you to enjoy a comfortable and allergy-free sleep with your down pillow.

How to Identify a Down Allergy

Because traditional down pillows are made with goose or duck feathers, people who are allergic to certain animal products may experience an allergic reaction to down pillows. If you experience any of the following symptoms for an extended period of time that correlates with your use of a down pillow, you may suffer from an allergy to goose or duck down.

  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Hives or rashes, particularly on the face, neck and arms
  • Sneezing or coughing

If you suspect that you may be allergic to down, exchange your down pillow for another type of pillow and watch for changes in your symptoms. For extreme reactions or emergency situations, always visit an emergency room or dial 911 for assistance.

How to Use a Down Pillow if You have Down Allergies

Many people consider down pillows to be the most comfortable variety of pillow. If you have a down allergy, or if you are concerned about potential down allergies, there are two ways to enjoy the comfort of a down pillow without simultaneously suffering for your allergy.

Some bedding and fabric stores carry hypoallergenic pillowcases that help to reduce the effects of using a down pillow with an allergy. These pillowcases are highly effective in lowering your exposure to dust, mites and down particles as you sleep with your down pillow. Most pillowcases of this type will be labeled as hypoallergenic and will zip up to prevent exposure to dust and down. Many people with down allergies have utilized hypoallergenic pillowcases with great success.

A second option is a down pillow made without the use of animal products. Synthetic down pillows emulate the comfort and firmness of goose and duck feather pillows without triggering negative reactions in people who suffer from down allergies. Synthetic down pillows are available at mattress and bedding stores.

Consider Other Options

Although down pillows provide an excellent level of support and comfort, allergy sufferers may opt for non-allergenic pillows instead. Cotton pillows tend to be soft and cool to the touch. Wool pillows, on the other hand, provide a firmer feel and absorb moisture well. Additionally, synthetic fill materials like polyester and foam tend to be inexpensive and durable.

If you suffer from a down allergy, consider your pillow options carefully. While it is certainly possible to use a down pillow with a special case or a synthetic filling material, you may find that a pillow filled with cotton, wool or another allergen-free material is sufficient for your needs as well.