Fragrance Sensitivity: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Fragrance Sensitivity: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Fragrance sensitivity is when your airways are irritated by substances or chemical compounds in pure or manufactured scents. While the time period is typically used synonymously with a perfume allergy, a perfume sensitivity would not contain a whole-body immune response however as a substitute means that some part of the perfume is irritating to your airways and eyes.

With a perfume sensitivity, signs like sneezing, coughing, or itchy eyes develop in response to scents like perfumes, flowers, incense, and cigarette smoke. Fragrance sensitivity can occur to anybody however is extra doubtless you probably have bronchial asthma or allergic reactions.

Theresa Chiechi / Verywell

Fragrance Sensitivity Symptoms

The signs of perfume sensitivity typically develop inside minutes of publicity to a scent. You can count on the signs to final from a couple of minutes to a number of hours.

The triggering scents can differ from individual to individual together with the severity of signs. Symptoms have a tendency the be worse the longer the publicity and/or the stronger the scent.

Fragrance sensitivity could cause signs equivalent to:

A ticklish feeling in your noseA uncooked or burning sensation within the nasal passagesWatery, itchy, or purple eyesA dry coughSneezingHeadachesNasal congestion

Associated Symptoms

Fragrance sensitivity could cause different signs as effectively. This typically solely happens in the event you’ve had extended respiratory publicity and/or have come into contact with a substance like a fragrance.

In the previous case, the prolonged inhalation of a scent may result in nausea and dizziness. In the latter case, direct pores and skin publicity may result in contact irritant dermatitis, manifesting with pores and skin redness, irritation, and a prickly rash.

When to Seek Medical Care

Seek speedy medical consideration in the event you expertise the next after inhaling any scent or chemical:


Fragrance sensitivity happens resulting from irritation of the respiratory tract and/or mucous membranes of the eyes. It will be triggered by all kinds of natural and synthetic chemical compounds in quite a lot of scents. Symptoms alone could also be sufficient to provide you with a warning to the publicity even if you cannot scent the scent.

The most typical substances that induce perfume sensitivity embody α-pinene (APN), limonene (LIM), linalool (LIL), and eugenol (EUG).

Some of the widespread culprits of perfume sensitivity embody:

Perfumes and colognesBody lotionsSoapsPowdersAir freshenersCigarette smokeFlowersDetergents or material softenersCleaning merchandise

It can also be believed that there could also be a psychological part to the response.

Fragrance Sensitivity vs. Allergy

Although perfume sensitivity is just not unusual in individuals with allergic reactions, it isn’t a real allergy A real allergy includes an immune response by which a protein known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) units off a series response that results in allergy signs. With perfume sensitivity, IgE is just not concerned.

The irritation that happens with perfume sensitivity can even set off an allergic response or an bronchial asthma assault in some individuals, though consultants aren’t clear why that is.


Generally, a analysis of perfume sensitivity is predicated on the prevalence and timing of signs. You, fairly than your healthcare supplier, are in the most effective place to note reactions and get a clearer sense of your particular person triggers.

But figuring out the offending perfume will be tough. You may begin to acknowledge {that a} sure perfume or scent precedes your reactions, however you won’t know which part of a product is inflicting your signs.

To assist you in your quest, it’s a good suggestion to all the time learn the ingredient label of any probably offending product. Patterns might emerge that ultimately lead you to the offender.

You can even maintain a diary detailing if you had signs, the place you have been on the time, and what you smelled previous to the outbreak of signs.

Medical Evaluation

Beyond doing your individual analysis, you may additionally profit from a medical analysis. Your healthcare supplier may start by checking whether or not you could have bronchial asthma or allergic reactions if solely to rule them out because the trigger.

This might contain pulmonary perform exams (PFTs) to judge the energy of your lungs or allergy exams to examine for IgE antibodies or your response to widespread allergens like pollen and mud.

Treatment and Prevention

Avoiding offending fragrances is mostly one of the simplest ways to handle perfume sensitivity. This is comparatively simple to do at house by shopping for unscented soaps and lotion, adorning with pretend flowers as a substitute of actual ones, or banning cigarettes indoors.

It is probably not really easy at your office or if you find yourself out at a buddy’s home. In such circumstances, it’s in your curiosity to talk up and politely inform your mates, members of the family, and work colleagues about your sensitivities. They is probably not conscious that perfumes or fragrances they’re accustomed to are overly robust and affecting others.


In circumstances the place you possibly can’t keep away from publicity (or when signs are persistent), you should use over-the-counter medicines to deal with the signs. This contains ache relievers like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or a nasal decongestant to beat congestion.

When a perfume sensitivity causes your bronchial asthma or allergy signs to flare up, you’ll additionally must take your ordinary bronchial asthma or allergy medicines to convey these signs below management.

A Word From Verywell

Fragrance sensitivity is just not unusual and will be particularly aggravating if you’re repeatedly uncovered to the irritant within the office or at a buddy’s home.

Since the most effective remedy is prevention, studying find out how to talk your considerations is a ability it’s essential develop to forestall in any other case avoidable episodes of perfume sensitivity.

Verywell Health makes use of solely high-quality sources, together with peer-reviewed research, to help the information inside our articles. Read our editorial course of to study extra about how we fact-check and maintain our content material correct, dependable, and reliable.

Alrasheed M, Albalawi O, Aljallal M, Algahtani AS. Prevalence and danger components of self-reported fragrance sensitivity in Saudi Arabia. Healthcare (Basel). 2021 Oct;9(10):1248. doi:10.3390/healthcare9101248
Basketter DA, Huggard J, Kimber I. Fragrance inhalation and antagonistic well being results: the query of causation. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2019;104:151-6.doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2019.03.011
Wolkoff P, Nielsen GD. Effects by inhalation of ample fragrances in indoor air – an summary. Environ Int. 2017;101:96-107. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2017.01.013
American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Contact dermatitis.
Geier J, Uter W. Diagnostic workup of perfume allergy. Hautarz. 2015 Sep;66(9):674-9. doi:10.1007/s00105-015-3658-1

By Pat Bass, MD
Dr. Bass is a board-certified internist, pediatrician, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Physicians.

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