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Perfume Allergies in the Workplace

Rujuta Borkar May 10, 2019
Perfume allergies in the workplace are rather common and can lead to varied adverse effects on the health. This in turn affects the person's quality of work. Here we will try and understand this phenomenon better and the way in which we can deal with it.
Imagine you walk into the office elevator and you're assaulted, most literally, by an intensely strong waft of perfume. Not being able to turn back, you ascend the 20 odd floors, while trying desperately not to choke on the perfume smell.
You come out into the lobby and are greeted with the same smell through the corridor and run dangerously close to your workstation. Yup, it's coming from the desk adjacent to yours. And you know exactly how it's going to go, what with you being allergic to perfume smells.
You'll be sneezing till the perfume smell does not fade. You'll probably be all teary eyed as well. Messy, messy day ahead.
You aren't the only one out there, BTW. There are several others who suffer from perfume allergies as well. And if you suffer from this allergy, you'll know just how it affects you. You're not in the best state, either physically or mentally and that is bound to affect your work.
Which is what makes it imperative that you understand why this condition comes about and what are the solutions for the same. In the following sections, we will try and understand this phenomenon better.

What are Perfume Allergies

Allergies are caused when certain foreign objects enter our body and our immune system perceives them as being harmful. In order to deal with these foreign objects, the immune system produces certain allergens.
But instead of getting rid of these foreign objects, these allergens react in a negative manner and produce allergic reactions in a person, which cause for the emergence of several symptoms of varied kinds.
The fact of the matter is that only certain people's immune system will perceive the allergens as being harmful and that is why only some people will have allergies of a certain kind while others won't.
Similarly, the ingredients that are present in perfumes, might lead to perfume allergies (also known as fragrance allergies) in some people while not in others. These ingredients will act as a trigger and lead to reactions that could range from the mild to severely intense. 
Perfume allergies in the workplace are common, and the manner to deal with them is more tricky than any other scenario because one is in a professional relationship with these people. Yet, it cannot be denied that one's breathing space gets invaded which is similar to dealing with second hand smoke. Thus one's work quality is compromised as a result.


An allergic reaction will produce certain symptoms in the human body. In some individuals, these may be rather mild, while in others quite intense. In some others, certain symptoms might trigger certain other reactions as well, which might not be directly related to the triggering factor.
The following symptoms are some of the most common forms that may develop in an individual:
  • Eyes watering
  • Sneezing
  • Constriction of throat
  • Headaches
  • Hives and rashes (mostly in contact with skin)
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Itchy skin
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Asthma attacks
  • Rising of bile
  • Funny taste in the mouth
  • Tingling of lips
  • Joint and muscle pain (in certain cases)
  • Eczema (on contact with skin)
While all these symptoms might not manifest in a single person, perfume allergy and headache as well as perfume allergy and asthma are common perfume allergies. In that manner, the intensity of these triggers cannot be ignored, 'coz in some people they can lead to conditions like migraines and asthma. Both of which are rather serious health conditions.

Treatment and Policies

The immediate treatment that you should start out on should focus on combating the allergies. This can be done by using medication like drugs and nasal sprays. These will bring the condition under control and help in dealing with the condition. The most effective treatment though is to get away from the trigger. 
This is not as simple as it sounds, we know. Opening windows, airing the place out, shifting base or requesting the person with the perfume to wear less of the same are all different ways in which to deal with this factor. 
Considering the range of symptoms and health conditions that the ingredients in perfumes can lead to, as well as the compromising of personal air space and the effects that it can lead to has prompted several companies to draw up policies on the same. But this is a very difficult policy to bring into action. 
Deciding what translates as being a pollutant, or who is wearing too much perfume is a subjective factor and cannot be controlled by law. Instead, companies can make their employees aware of the repercussions that wearing strong and excessive perfume can have on others' health. This can be done in a number of ways like sticking posters or holding meetings. 
Perfume allergies being triggered off at the workplace? They have to be dealt with, and fast. Make sure that you speak to your employers and make them aware of this fact. You'll be a happier person.