Fragrance Allergies

Have you heard of fragrance allergies? Do you think that the people that are subject to this are making this up to get attention or sympathy? It’s okay to say yes. My own brother, who is a registered nurse, thought I was a loon too til recently. Well, now you’ve “meet” someone with it.

So fragrance allergy, what is it? Well, it varies from person to person so here’s a link for WebMD.


Which reactions do you have, LilKaylie?

Personally, I have a mix of five different reactions. I can have them all at simultaneously, but not always.

  • Lightheadedness leads to dizzy spells.
  • Headaches that move on to unrelenting migraines.
  • Light sensitivity goes along with the migraines.
  • Asthma symptoms like tightness of the lungs result in the need for my rescue inhaler.
  • Then there’s the painful contact dermatitis which is a rash-like reaction. If it’s bad enough I can experience hives or skin can bubble like a third-degree burn (when they did my patch test for allergies my skin bubbled.)

In my case, my fragrance allergy is genetic, thanks, Dad! While my father has it, his case is significantly less severe than mine, and my brother was lucky enough to have been spared this condition. In some cases, women of childbearing age experience heightened sense of smell, which from what I’m told is a common occurrence in pregnant women as well.


You mentioned your brother recently clued in, what happened?

Within the last two months, my little brother got a sense of my sniffer power! In your mind fill this container up 2 inches of water and add about 25 or so different types of herb seedlings, they were about 3 inches tall from root to tip. Cilantro, Oregano, Thyme, whatever you want. Now add ONE mint seedling. This was something my in-law’s sister had given my brother for his greenhouse, so he had no idea what was in it. He was just going to put them into cups to keep under a heat lamp to help them grow before planting them in the greenhouse. OK back onto topic! I kept telling him I smelled mint, and he told me multiple times I was wrong before sticking his own nose into the mix. Once he’d unloaded about half the seedlings into their own cups he’d finally stuck his nose in again and found my single peppermint baby in there. From the look on his face, you’d have thought I stuck the seedling in there myself.


So how do I know if I have it?

Are you sensitive to smells? Does the thought of perfume, cologne, body wash, shampoo, or even hand soap make you pause out of concern about the reaction you’ll have to THIS product? You may want to check in with a specialist, an allergy specialist to be specific. A dermatologist can do a partial patch test, mine only offered me 10 different variations, while my allergy and asthma specialist offered me 40ish I think it was. Please bear with me, this was five or six years ago I had this test done.


Are you interested in Fragrance-Free products?

If you are interested, I’m going to have another page that will list off products that I have found, and even used some of them, that are fragrance-free! I’ve done the hard work in finding them, all you have to do is pick them up and use them, so long as you aren’t allergic to any of their other ingredients.


What about a cure? Is there one?

From what my allergy specialist told me there is no cure. I can’t take an allergy pill and expect to be able to go about like a normal individual. The only way to reduce negative reactions is avoidance. This can really suck for your social life, depending on how well your friends and family take the news.


My family’s reaction…

Mom thinks I can Google a way to cure myself, Google M.D. FTW!Dad understands because he suffers from a reduced version of the same thing.My brother, until just recently, thought I was off my rocker. Which depending on the day, I agree with him haha!

Thank God for my husband, who didn’t know what he was getting into when we got married but loves me all the same. He invites friends over to come visit, he takes the time to explain the situation in advance and tells them to please limit any cologne or perfume that they wear when they come over. They’ve already got an idea what happens to me when they come over, so when I excuse myself and make a run for my safe place (my office or bedroom, which both have air purifiers in them) they aren’t offended or mortified. There’s not much we can do about not asking them to use body wash, much less being concerned about laundry detergent smells. When his parents came to stay over from Canada a couple of years ago, he even had them using our laundry detergent and Dad stopped smoking for the duration of his stay. I didn’t know that Dad smoked, but Hubby mentioned how much of a sacrifice it was for him, that I was really fortunate for my in-laws to have that kind of patience.


What do you do when you leave the house?

I purchased awesome arm guards, well they are actually arm warmers, I got them from EitanyaDesigns on Etsy. They cover everything from my knuckles up to my upper arm, they even have a thumb hole, how awesome is that!

I don’t leave without my rescue inhaler (ProAir), generic Benadryl in case I come in contact with something my skin doesn’t appreciate. I also have migraine pills I take as soon as they get excessive. I have a good tolerance, just because I have to leave the house periodically, but it’s not recommended to use them while driving so I try to avoid places I know will trigger them like the mall or beauty stores.

I also take Cetaphil with me to use as a hand soap, a solid lotion (O’Keeffe’s Working Hands,) and I take a hand sanitizer as well. I can’t really find many fragrance-free sanitizers so I will either make my own or take the basic Purell.


Have more questions? Let me know, you can either comment below or you can contact me here.


*Note: FTW means For The Win.

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