When Scent-sitivity Strikes
If you experience getting headaches, or if you have trouble breathing, and your skin got irritated after spraying a perfume, cologne, or room deodorizer, you may be one of the millions with fragrance sensitivity.
Unlike pollens or dusts, perfumes are not exactly allergens, but are irritants. The difference is that an allergen causes the immune system to react, which then leads to an alarming cascade of symptoms ranging from sneezing to anaphylactic shock. Irritants, on the other hand, are ingredients that cause a reaction on the skin after contact. These responses include stinging, burning, itching, redness, or tightness. Bottom line is, what people call a “perfume allergy” is either fragrance sensitivity or an allergy to some chemical in the perfume.
This type of sensitivity varies among individuals. But people with allergies are more sensitive to these irritants due to their baseline allergic disease.
Tough to Touch
While fragrance sensitivity can be more severe in people with asthma, when it comes to skin, eczema or contact dermatitis set off by ingredients in the perfume is true allergy. Perfumes and deodorants are most frequent sources of sensitization in women, while aftershave products and deodorants are most often responsible in men. Hand and face eczema are common problems known to be caused by fragrance ingredients, since perfumes are present in consumer products such as hand soaps and cosmetics.
While there are medications that can control allergy symptoms caused by these sensitivities, the best medicine is really prevention. That means keeping all fragrances off yourself at all times. If you have family members who still couldn’t help but wear perfume, ask them to avoid wearing or using heavily-fragranced products around you to prevent your allergy symptoms. You can also protect your skin against harmful ingredients that may trigger your symptoms by using unscented, hypoallergenic products, from soaps to shirts.