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Dealing With Perfume Allergy/sensitivity

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Does anyone have any tips on dealing with perfume allergy or sensitivity?

I've always had problems with perfumes, there are a few I can tolerate but most make me feel ill. Within seconds of smelling them my nose stuffs up, my eyes start stinging, my head hurts and I start wheezing.

I try not to have any strongly fragranced products in the house but sometimes I can't avoid them. Yesterday my mother came to visit and as soon as she got near me it triggered my symptoms. In the past she has accused me of being rude or exaggerating but as soon as the scent hits me the symptoms start and I can't hide the fact my voice sounds like I have a head cold or the wheezing when I cough to clear my throat.

My mother denied wearing anything perfumed but she did admit to using a fragranced wet wipe prior to visiting me. It kind of spoiled my afternoon as we were going to watch my daughter in her school play. I knew I'd have to sit next to her for the next 90 minutes so I took an anithistamine and used my son's ventolin inhaler (which I've been prescribed in the past for breathing difficulties). That minimised the reaction but I still felt very weak and dizzy.

I'm never sure what to do in these situations. Has anyone found anything that helps?

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Avoidance. And in the case of your mother using some fragrance that caused a reaction, I would not have sat next to her or been anywhere where I could detect the smell. In my case, I have refused to "be nice" and remain near the offender. I have also refused to allow peoples' opinions of my behavior to alter my avoidance.

Yes, I have had my husband and my mother on different occasions mention that my avoidance behavior was a bit eccentric. I am so past all that and I don't care what people think. I have to live in my body, not them. And I will do what I need to to remain feeling well and to avoid a reaction.

People tend to take avoidance behavior personally, and they can feel offended. Well, you have a medical condition like any other, though it may be an invisible one if you do not pass out, but it is a reaction nonetheless with unpleasant consequences. There are others whose reaction can become life threatening. So, this is not some eccentricity on your part. It is real.

Own up to your difficulties. Treat yourself well. Don't allow others opinions to dictate how you take care of yourself. That's my suggestions.

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Maybe you could dig up some articles on the subject and mail them to your mom? I wonder if wearing a mask would help? I use one for outdoor allergies, and have been tempted to use one when I'm with a lot of people, such as at church where there is always perfume. Right now, I just try to sit in back away from the thick of it. I don't know if a mask would work the same way though as with pollen.

I've been on both sides of that scenario and I get how people just don't understand. Some things you just can't really understand until you are in the same position. I will be interested to see what other suggestions there are because I can't use antihistamines any more. I'm even sensitive to those :(

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Strong smells will set my son's vocal tics off. So I don't wear perfumes and I really have to be careful when I use cleaning products. I use the low odor and green cleaning products. I clean the bathroom at night so the cleaning smell will be gone by morning. I keep hoping there is a way to desensitize him because I don't want to make him feel worse.

I had not thought about a mask. That might work. My son can also have trouble with his tic when he goes outside. However, I can still give him an antihistamine and this will usually shut his vocal tic down within an hour.

Avoidance also works but holds you back from enjoying things.

The other thing you can do is take the antihistamine or other meds. before you go out. This might work as a preventive measure for you.

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My mum understands that perfumes affect me and she usually avoids wearing anything when she visits. In the past I have been accused of being 'funny' with her about it but now she does understand but unfortunately she forgets that things like deodorant, skin cream and wet wipes contain fragrance. She can get quite defensive and takes it very personally when she slips up.

On this occasion it was impossible to avoid her. We went to see my daughter's school play and had seats next to each other. My daughter is only 9 years old, I couldn't let her down by not going and I couldn't ban my mother from watching the show. Thankfully the antihistamine and ventolin helped lessen the symptoms so I could still enjoy the show but I was left feeling ill and exhausted by the experience.

There are other situations where avoidance isn't possible, like in waiting rooms, public transport, hospitals etc. I almost missed a hospital appointment once because someone had sprayed an entire can of air freshener in the entrance hall and it choked me so badly I had to leave.

I don't think wearing a mask would help. Thankfully these situations don't arise very often and I'd have to wear it constantly to avoid the one or two times a week when I encounter something that doesn't agree with me.

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My mom just doesn't do it when I'm around. But I've had the problem as long as I can remember and it was never questioned. I still hear "I only put lotion on" sometimes however. I stay as far away from her as I can when this happens. Sometimes I've taken something to deal with the resulting headache.

I think she's been most offended when she doesn't like a particular friend's perfume and I don't even smell it.

You might try giving her a list of what she can use. Your reaction sounds really bad; it sounds miserable to sit through that. I might have asked a stranger to switch seats with me in that circumstance

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My mom had to give up on perfume ,body mist, skin lotions with smells, fabric softeners, any strong smelling detergents,etc etc

my dad used to spray febreeze and I'd just about lose my mind getting out of the house and away from it. :/ i know how you feel.

Avoidance is my only solution to offer you :(

It's interesting that so many of us have this sensitivity though. People make fun of me when I go down the cleaning products aisle at the store, at a dead run to get through as fast as possible lol

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Hi Clairc et al -

I have found that the Vicks menthol smell does not bother me - so sometimes, once I realize there is any smell in my vicinity that I will be unable to avoid for the next while, I quickly put a bit vicks vapo rub under my nostrils which seems to "ward off" the other smell. Breathing though my mouth also helps (I would not say I have an allergy though but rather a sensitivity - certain smells trigger my dizziness, headache and overall wonky feeling - so not sure this work for someone who has a full blown allergy)

But it may be worth trying ...good luck!

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