Perfume and Allergies
Beautiful Scent, Beautifully Packaged
As a kid I was always fascinated with the shiny glass perfume bottles made into beautiful decorative shapes. An elegant pheasant, complete with colored tail feathers, held cologne. A tin soldier, a resting doe, or an Easter chick held a mysteriously enlivening scent. Tall blue bottles, short diamond shaped bottles, musky brown and ribbons red. What I didn't understand was why sometimes my head hurt after I'd opened them and put some on, and why I sometimes felt dizzy.
Perfume Reaction: Migraines
Perfume is a common migraine trigger. Many folks are completely disabled by migraine attacks and are unable to work near anybody who is wearing any kind of perfume. Until recently people in the workplace had to tough it. A court case has been decided giving employees with migraine attacks more rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The act states that employers have to make accommodations for their disabled employees, and this includes making the workplace a perfume free zone if it is necessary for their safety and for them to continue being able to work.
Unbelievable as it may seem, when many people are simply asked not to wear perfume and when it is explained to them why they need to stop wearing it, they often refuse to comply unless the employer is going to be sued. One wonders about their lack of empathy when such a simple act could relieve another human being of such extreme suffering.
Perfume Reaction: Anaphylaxis
Hives, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing that gradually increases till the airway is the size of a drinking straw and getting smaller...
No, sadly, it is not an exaggeration. Perfume can and has caused anaphylaxis in some sensitive individuals, requiring an epinephrine injection. Workplaces are not the only threat to allergy sufferers. Sometimes it's even dangerous to shop at the store. Sometimes just one whiff can set someone off. Those unlucky enough to have this problem carry epi pens and antihistamines in case of accidental exposure.
Perfume Reaction: Asthma Attack
"All the fancily dressed woman had to do was walk past me. I immediately started coughing hard, and couldn't stop," said the person being interviewed, who wishes to remain anonymous. "I had to get out my inhaler right there in the store. Everyone was looking at me. I hate to make a scene, but it was either that or...."
Is the wearing of perfume really worth doing this to someone?
Admittedly I have a few favorite scents I like, but I have voluntarily stopped wearing perfumes altogether because I cannot abide the thought of accidentally exposing someone to it, someone who could be hurt or killed by the reaction.
Will anybody join me?