If you find yourself developing a killer headache when riding an elevator
with someone who was a bit generous dabbing on the perfume, you have company.
More than 2 million Americans have fragrance allergies or sensitivities -- and
the number is on the rise.
Although that person's perfume may have been all too obvious a culprit,
there are many hidden sources of fragrances, says Clifford W. Bassett, MD,
medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York. Bassett helped
WebMD sniff out the truth about fragrance allergies.
Got allergies that don't seem to get better, no matter what you do? Check
these four common reasons why allergies don't improve -- and what to do about
it. Tightening up in these four areas may go a long way toward reducing allergy
symptoms of all kinds.
What are some of the most common sources of fragrance allergies?
Skin care products, colognes, perfumes, moisturizers, soaps, deodorants,
aftershave – all kinds of products that smell nice but contain chemicals that
our immune system may not like very much.
What are the most hidden sources of fragrance allergies?
Low-allergy or hypoallergenic products may contain fragrances that aren't
obvious because of a less aromatic smell. Fragrance-free products may have a
"masking" fragrance added to cover up the smell of the
Also, many magazine ad inserts for perfumes and skin care products are laden
with fragrance. People may actually have difficulty reading the publication as
a result of the scent.
In some cases, the reaction to various products can be aggravated by
exposure to the sun. This is known as a photosensitivity.
What are the symptoms of fragrance allergies?
Most commonly, the skin is affected. There may be rash or redness, itchiness
or even blistering of the face and skin as a result of daily or one-time usage
of a product.
Fragrance allergies can also affect the eyes, causing extreme redness,
irritation, tearing and burning, and some swelling of the eyelids. Sneezing,
runny nose, nasal congestion, headache, even breathing difficulties can also be
triggered by a strong odor.