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Perfume, along with scented soaps, lotions and detergents, can trigger fragrance allergies. In my case, it was Febreeze being used to eliminate odors that left me with asthma-like symptoms, including difficulty breathing and wheezing.
My reaction occurred in my home before my family realized I had developed fragrance allergies. These days, my home is a fragrance-free zone.
Fragrance allergies are on the rise in conjunction with the plethora of scented products on the market. Sensitivity can range from irritant responses to allergic responses.
Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, asthma, itching and hives. These symptoms usually disappear after getting away from the offending substances.
It can be candles, shampoo, cleaners or even dishwashing liquid that trigger your reaction. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), some 5,000 different fragrances, along with numerous fragrance combinations, are used in products.
“Scent sells” is the marketing philosophy behind these many scented products. The problem is for many individuals, repeated exposure results in the emergence of allergic responses. Cosmetic contact dermatitis, caused by fragrances, afflicts two million people. Women are more likely to be affected because they use more scented products and become more sensitive with repeated exposure.
The best way to prevent fragrance allergies is avoidance. Unfortunately, that only works in our own homes but what about when we visit the mall where they are spritzing perfume near shoppers or at work, where co-workers have splashed themselves with body wash or cologne.
Some workers have taken legal action and have won. For instance in Portland, Ore., some government offices have enacted “fragrance-free” workplace policies. Others have tried to raise awareness of the problem with fellow workers by educating them about fragrance allergies. Another approach is to ask those wearing scented products to use less.
When selecting products for personal use, the best approach is to purchase unscented products. At work, try an air purifier or portable fan, or ask to switch workstations away from offending fragrances. In some cases, over-the-counter allergy medicine can control some symptoms.
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