Although harmless, perfumes can cause severe allergic reactions for those with fragrance sensitivity issues. For those who may not be familiar with fragrance sensitivity, it is a clinical term used to denote irritation that stems from chemicals commonly used in perfumes, body sprays, and certain cosmetics. These same chemicals can also cause skin allergies. According to this study, a good percentage of the U.S. suffers from some form of irritation from fragrances or scented products.
It is also important to note that fragrance sensitivity can worsen breathing problems for those with asthma or other respiratory illnesses. Even if strong odors do not trigger skin allergies or breathing problems, they can still cause some people to become severely sick. In this article, we will inspect some symptoms associated with fragrance sensitivity and when you should seek an appointment with a dermatologist or an allergist.
What Symptoms Are Associated With Fragrance Sensitivity?
As far as perfumes go, their effect intensity varies, meaning that some will trigger an allergic reaction while others are perfectly harmless. More common ingredients found in perfume that can trigger an allergic reaction include:
- Oakmoss extract
- Amyl cinnamyl alcohol
- Cinnamyl alcohol
Most perfumes contain an amalgamation of natural essences and synthetic chemicals that further enhances their unique scent. However, these same ingredients can trigger a variety of symptoms amongst those struggling with fragrance sensitivity issues. While they can vary in intensity, some of these symptoms include:
- Severe headaches
- Sneezing, coughing, and watery eyes
- Breathing problems
- Skin irritation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lack of focus
Also, it is not uncommon for those who are sensitive to fragrances to experience migraines when exposed to certain perfumes or colognes, especially those containing known allergens, according to the American Migraine Foundation. Those who are sensitive to fragrances may have more to worry about than just perfume as many colognes, body sprays, and even cleaning solvents contain many of the same allergens.
Considering the number of allergic reactions that can stem from these fragrances, it is easy to see why some people avoid them. However, doing so is not always possible. For example, many people will be exposed to perfumes and other strong-scented products in the workplace or while riding public transportation.
Preventing Fragrance Sensitivity
One way to prevent or minimize fragrance sensitivity is by being mindful of the products you use to clean your home. For example, many of the cleaning products currently on the market contain limonene, a citrus-based compound commonly used in degreasers and deodorizers that can trigger an allergic reaction due to its strong lemon-orange scent. This is not to suggest that you forgo cleaning your home completely; instead, invest in products that are unscented or all-natural to prevent fragrance sensitivity.
As far as fragrances in the workplace are concerned, you can let your employer know that you are sensitive to strong perfumes and colognes and request to be seated somewhere else within the office. On a side note, fragrance sensitivity will be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) effective July 1, 2019, meaning you will have some legal recourse if your employer is unwilling to honor your request.
It is worth noting, however, that many employers have already accommodated such requests ahead of the ADA effective date by switching to unscented cleaning products and making sure that all employees adhere to fragrance-free company policies.
Steps You Can Take To Prevent Fragrance Sensitivity Include
Changing your work schedule – While this may not always be an option, you can speak with your employer about changing your work schedule to allow you to begin and end you shift when there are fewer coworkers in the office, which can help reduce your risk of being exposed to strong-smelling perfumes or colognes.
Telecommuting – If offered by your employer, look into telecommuting. This option allows you to work from home and eliminates any possibility of being exposed to strong-smelling perfumes or colognes worn by coworkers.
How Is Fragrance Sensitivity Treated?
If changing your work schedule and using unscented household cleaners does not provide relief from fragrance sensitivity, you may need to schedule an appointment with an allergist or dermatologist who can perform a patch test to determine the specific allergens that may trigger your allergic reaction. This information is helpful in the sense that you can then avoid products that contain such ingredients and, therefore, reduce your risk of an allergic reaction. However, if your fragrance sensitivity has morphed into sinus problems, additional treatments like balloon sinuplasty, for example, may be necessary.
This FDA-approved procedure, which is minimally invasive and does not require general anesthesia, is designed to open nasal passages by enabling mucus to drain from blocked sinuses. If you are struggling with sinus problems that stem from fragrance sensitivity that include nasal congestion, sinus pressure, or sinus pain, you’re encouraged to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ran Y. Rubinstein at Hudson Valley Sinus Center.
Dr. Rubinstein is an ENT specialist who has been using balloon sinuplasty to treat patients with chronic sinusitis since 2008 and is recognized as an expert in performing the procedure. According to the practice’s website, over 95 percent of those who have undergone balloon sinuplasty at Hudson Valley Sinus Center have credited the procedure with relieving their sinus problems. For information about Dr. Rubinstein and balloon sinuplasty in Hudson Valley, feel free to visit his site.