Skip to content

    Allergies Health Center

    Font Size

    Don't Let Fragrances Trigger Your Allergy Symptoms

    If you're like a lot of folks with allergies, you may want to stay away from strong fragrances. When you breathe in the scent from things like candles, soaps, laundry detergents, and even some tissues, it can trigger your hay fever symptoms. Before you know it, you may sneeze, cough, and get a stuffy, runny, or itchy nose. Headaches and rashes aren't out of the question, either.

    For some people, these symptoms are caused by an allergic reaction to fragrances, which means their immune system -- the body's defense against germs -- overreacts. But for others, the problems start up because the scent irritates the airways directly.

    Recommended Related to Allergies

    Gardening With Allergies

    Putzing in the garden is nothing less than therapy. It's even good exercise, if you exert enough effort. But the sneezing and stuffy-headed feeling that lingers afterwards -- that's the downside of gardening with allergies.

    Read the Gardening With Allergies article > >

    Keep Fragrances Away

    Your doctor can't test for a reaction to a fragrance, so you have to do a bit of detective work to figure out what scent is causing your symptoms. Pay attention to the times when they seem to flare up. Were you around any strong smells?

    Once you have an idea of the smell that triggers your problem, limit your contact with it and see if your symptoms get better.

    Some other things you can try:

    Buy unscented or fragrance-free. Keepin mind, though, thatsome products with a "natural fragrance" may still contain chemicals that trigger a reaction.

    Avoid anything that lists "fragrance" on the label. Even things that don't have a smell may use fragrances to hide chemical odors.

    Ask people around you not to wear strong perfumes or colognes. That may be tricky at work, of course, so always be polite. You can also move your desk or use a small fan.

    Use natural cleaners. You can avoid strong scents if you make your own cleaner with ingredients like baking soda or white vinegar.

    Ask your doctor about drugs to control symptoms. Some people get relief from decongestants or steroid nasal sprays.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on November 16, 2014

    Today on WebMD

    man blowing nose
    Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
    Allergy capsule
    Breathe easier with these products.
    cat on couch
    Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
    Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
    Which ones affect you?

    blowing nose
    woman with sore throat
    lone star tick
    Woman blowing nose

    Send yourself a link to download the app.

    Loading ...

    Please wait...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    cat lying on shelf
    Allergy prick test
    Man sneezing into tissue
    Woman holding feather duster up to face, twitching