Fragrance Allergies

Tanya Sharma
Could your favorite women's perfume be the culprit?

Fragrance allergies can ruin the sensory experience associated with pleasant perfumes and other scented products. Unfortunately, once an allergy strikes it can cause serious discomfort and annoyance! Read on to learn about what causes the allergy and what can be done about it.

The Causes of Fragrance Allergies

It's not just perfumes in particular that cause uncomfortable allergic reactions. Fragrance itself is added to a great number of products, and the American Academy of Dermatology theorizes that as many as 5000 different fragrances are prominently used in everything from shampoos and conditioners to shower gels and cosmetics. Needless to say, there are plenty of unfortunate opportunities for sensitive individuals to suffer an allergic reaction.

While reactions are often attributed to the fragrance itself, some theories suggest that it may not be the sole culprit. In fact, the allergic reaction may be due to the various chemicals used in the creation of the fragrance. Hundreds of these chemicals are used to create various fragrances, so determining the actual cause of the reaction can be quite a tricky feat - just ask anyone who has dealt with the frustration of playing the trial and error game with many different products.

Allergy Symptoms

Individuals who suffer from sensitivity to fragrance are probably very familiar with a few very specific symptoms. While there are several very common scenarios that relate to fragrance allergies, a few symptoms may even be quite serious. Among the classic symptoms most associated with this type of allergy are the following:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing

These are, of course, just the basics - although that doesn't make them any less unpleasant to deal with! In addition, some sufferers may also deal with:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Itchiness

Preventing Allergic Reactions

Unfortunately, trial and error is really the only way to determine what the reaction's culprit could be. Some people are simply sensitive to any type of scented product. Dermatologists recommend using unscented products if you suffer an allergic reaction to anything that contains fragrance. If your symptoms disappear, your culprit was most likely the fragrance. If, however, a reaction still occurs, you might be dealing with sensitivity to the chemicals in the product (which are used as masking agents in unscented items). While it's easy enough to limit irritating fragrances within the home or other personal spaces, it's quite another thing to try to reduce your exposure to them in public areas like the workplace and stores. It is important to what you can, though, to protect your health. This may mean taking a few precautionary steps to avoid further exposure to the irritating fragrance.

If the offender is a coworker, simply asking him or her politely to reduce the amount of the fragrance worn may do the trick. Of course, this can come off as offensive to individuals who take your request the wrong way, so it's best to tread carefully. You may even wish to speak to a higher up if you don't have success with your coworker.

Other solutions include:

  • Using a filtered air purifier may make a difference. They're more effective in offices with doors, but can be potentially helpful when placed in a small cubicle unit.
  • Try a portable fan, which can reduce the fragrance's impact on your personal space.
  • Move your work area to a different location. If you can switch cubicles or offices with someone so you're no longer situated near the offensive fragrance, you'll do yourself a huge favor. It may seem a drastic step, but your health trumps everything else - and besides, your work will suffer if you're not feeling well!

Fragrances to Try

If your allergies have you feeling doubly miserable because you can't use the fragrances you love, you might find a winner in a single note fragrance. Note that this will only work out if you aren't allergic to specific scents, but you can start small with mild scents like vanilla.

You might also want to test out perfumes from natural lines, like Aveda and Pacifica. Many sufferers have reported some success with fragrances that lack the synthetic ingredients of more mainstream scents. You might also want to test adding a drop of a mild essential oil to your favorite unscented body lotion. This will add just a hint of fragrance. While it's best not to set your hopes too high, it's still worth a shot!

Fragrance Allergies