Fragrances are such a prominent part of our world, but perfumes or other scented products can irritate your sinuses and cause debilitating headaches. At times even compared to a migraine, perfume headaches can cause you to miss work or impact other areas of your life.
It can be hard to pinpoint the cause of repeated headaches before you identify your perfume allergy. Scents appear in a wide variety of products that you use every day without a second thought. However, identifying and treating your perfume allergies can help you regulate your perfume use and avoid painful headaches.
Fragrances contain a variety of chemicals to achieve a specific scent. When inhaled, the chemicals irritate your sinuses and can cause your sinuses to swell. Your sinuses do not drain properly once they are swollen and the resulting pressure build-up can cause a headache.
Everyone’s tolerance for fragrances is different, and what smells great to one person may cause another person extreme discomfort. The number of olfactory receptors and internal shape of the nose can impact how you detect smells. Women, particularly those in their reproductive years, may be more sensitive to perfumes than men.
The number and intensity of symptoms you experience will depend on the severity of the fragrance sensitivity. Symptoms can include:
In addition to respiratory symptoms, perfume allergies can cause irritation when the product comes in contact with your skin. Skin irritation can include hives, itching, redness, and other bumps or rashes. Even laundry detergent residue on your clothes can come in contact with your skin and cause irritation.
It is surprising how many products that we use every day contain fragrances. As someone with fragrance allergies, you’ll quickly become aware of the plethora of scented products that others may not even realize are scented. Scented products can include:
As we understand more about fragrance sensitivities, companies are offering frangrance-free versions of their products. Be aware of any specific products or scents that bother you more than others and buy unscented products whenever possible.
Let close friends, family, and colleagues know about your allergies and kindly ask them to refrain from using strongly-scented perfumes or other fragranced products when you are around. Avoidance is key to preventing headaches and other symptoms.
Simply avoiding scented products in your daily life may not be enough to prevent you from exposure to chemical irritants. You are bound to come across people who are unaware of your allergies, or you may go to a new restaurant or other business and encounter a flare-up.
For mild sensitivities, symptoms may be controlled by an over-the-counter allergy medication. Many varieties are available at the drug store, including non-sedatives. If symptoms persist or get worse, it may be time to consider other treatment options, like prescription medication and allergy shots.
Dr. Mani Zadeh is a board-certified otolaryngologist who focuses on problems with the sinuses, ears, nose, and throat. He has years of experience and a deep understanding of sinus anatomy and treatment options.
Allergies, including fragrance sensitivities, are unique to each individual and require specialized treatment. Dr. Zadeh will perform allergy testing to create a custom treatment plan to provide long-term relief from allergy symptoms.