Imagine you are on a train, and every time when the train stops at a station and new passengers come on board, you get dizzy, nauseated and experience breathing difficulties. You are forced to find and move to a scent-free spot, only to repeat the same process over and over again at every station, as if you are playing musical chair out of necessity.
Fragrance sensitivity is something that millions of people around the world live with every day. It is a real condition that can only be alleviated by avoiding contact or exposure to them.
However, the world we live in today is literally filled with fragrances no matter where you go. Thus, the one and only remedy," avoidance" is out of reach. And even if it was available, it is just a temporary remedy, not a cure.
So, what is Fragrance Sensitivity?
Basically, it is an irritation or a kind of allergic reaction to fragrances and ingredients used in products.
Conventionally, perfumes and colognes were the representative triggers, but nowadays, fragrances are present in so many products such as toiletries, household cleaning products, detergents and fabric softeners, air fresheners and pesticides. And as the use of fragrances skyrocket, more and more are being affected by them.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, over 5,000 different fragrances plus countless other fragrance combinations are used in products today, and can be a flabbergasting toxic brew. And those fragrances are considered to be the primary cause of cosmetic contact dermitis.
Being forced to breathe in fragrances emitting from other people is more or less the same as being forced to breathe in secondhand smoke. Comupulsory exposure to fragrances is literally a loss of control over your personal environment. And for those with sensitivity to fragrances and chemicals can be seriously affected.
It is no exaggeration to say that where there is people, there is fragrance.
Moreover, ingredients used in fragrance are not disclosed on labels, which make it difficult to identify the ingredient or product that is responsible for the sensitivity.
Not being able to take constructive measures to avoid exposure without having a safe haven to detox and recover can be very draining. Also not being able to identify the very causes makes it difficult for those with fragrance sensitivity to even take appropriate steps to alleviate their symptoms.
Symptoms of Fragrance Sensitivity
Symptoms of fragrance sensitivity can include:
- runny nose
- watery eyes
- headaches and migranes
- lack of concentration
- breathing difficulties
- chest pain
The symptoms can overlap with those of chemical sensitivity or even irritation, so specifying the cause can be challenging.
What Causes Fragrance Sensitivity?
It is even unclear to some experts if the fragrance itself is the cause, or just a part of a mix of chemicals, as many as 200 or more, that are used to create fragrances as well as the masking agents used in unscented products.
Fragrances often bear the brunt of being the culprit because fragrance is what we smell when symptoms occur.
However, it's possible that the reaction we are getting may be caused by the many chemicals used in the formulation of the fragrance. This includes both products we can smell and those labeled as "unscented," which are still loaded with various chemicals to dampen the smell.
So just because a product is labeled as unscented, does not mean it has a clean slate.
In order to pinpoint the exact cause or at least to narrow down the possibilities, trial and error seems to be the only option.
What Can You Do to Cope With Fragrance Sensitivities?
1. Reduce Exposure
Primitive as it can be, removing yourself away from the culprit is of top priority. "Avoidance" is the most effective treatment.
2. Talk To Your Family, Colleagues and Friends
Letting other people know that it is a problem for everyone exposed may bear fruit. This may get them to become aware and be considerate in what they use and wear in workplaces and at schools.
3. Remove Offensive Fragrance
Getting rid of scented household products, personal care products, and interiors is something you have control over and can be done easily.
Ventillating the room can obviously remove the offensive scents and refresh the air indoors. It would be a good idea to keep the windows open if available, provided that the air quality outdoors is good.
More articles on wellness and coping with fragrance and chemical sensitivity can be found at: