costumer shopping in the supermarket choosing a productRecently, while having dinner at a restaurant, a woman walked passed me to her table which was located near mine. As she moved, a thick wave of heavily scented air washed over my friend and me.

Even though I don’t have a severe fragrance allergy, the rest of the evening was uncomfortable as I became increasingly congested and eventually developed a headache. I can only imagine the impact this woman had on her dining companions.

While I am not calling for a ban on all things scented, I do think it is time to review our habits. Many workplaces have become “fragrance free” in order to protect employees and customers who may have fragrance allergies.

Fragrances Are Everywhere

And make no mistake. Men are not exempt. Aftershave can have lethal effects on someone with fragrance allergies as well.

We live in a world where just about everything has an aroma. It isn’t as simple as putting away the perfume. Think about it. Fragrance is everywhere and in so many different products that oftentimes we can simultaneously smell like a variety of things from flowers to fruit and more. A short walk down the detergent aisle in the grocery store can send me into an uncontrollable sneezing fit.

Soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorants, lotions, make-up, toothpaste, scented tissues and toilet paper, and magazines can be offensive to someone who is sensitive to fragrances.

Symptoms of Scent Reactions

Here are just some of the reactions that can be experienced by someone with allergies, sensitivities, or related health concerns:

  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Headache
  • Itchy skin, eyes, nose
  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing and coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Asthma attacks or asthma-like symptoms

Often, all it takes is a brief encounter with the offending odor for symptoms to occur.

And things that were never bothersome before suddenly are a problem. For example, have you ever noticed your eyes becoming itchy or your nose becoming runny when you put on a favorite fragrance? Maybe you become wheezy, start coughing or have trouble breathing when getting close to someone who is clearly drenched in perfume? You may be having an allergic reaction and should consider visiting your health care provider.

For first time sufferers, the reaction is often blamed on seasonal allergies and not something as seemingly innocuous as someone’s odorous dryer sheet.

Keep in mind, fragrances are chemical compounds and just because you may have become allergic to one scented product, does not necessarily mean that you will be allergic to all fragrances. So next time you feel a reaction, make a note of your environment and what you are using.

Read labels and look for the term “fragrance-free” on products instead of “unscented, organic and all-natural” as these may still be lightly scented.

Clean air has the best fragrance of all.