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Is that sneezing, wheezing and headache symptoms of a virus or is it the result of having a sensitivity or allergy to perfume? Sensitivity to a fragrance is a tricky matter as the intolerance to it is not always obvious in some people and it can take days and even weeks to develop.

Any type of contact with the perfume can also cause an allergic reaction. You can get a rash on your skin from simply inhaling the scent (even if it is wafting through the air to you from another person), touching liquid perfume, or being sprayed with it. 

Most colognes and perfumes contain several ingredients that could be allergens. Symptoms your body identifies the ingredient in the perfume as a foreign substance. Then, it releases an inflammatory reaction to help fight off the substance, as if the allergen or irritant in the fragrance is a bacterial or viral invader.

Is It A Perfume Allergy or Sensitivity?

There is a subtle difference between a perfume allergy and a perfume sensitivity. If you are allergic to an ingredient in a perfume you are likely to feel it immediately and have a body-wide immune-system reaction that includes a rash, breathing difficulties, headache, nausea, and hives. This is usually caused by an ingredient in the perfume that is a natural or synthetic protein.

 If you are sensitive to a perfume it may take some time for you to attribute the subtle symptoms you are having to the fragrance. You may also just get a headache, sneeze a few times and find relief from the problem simply by washing the perfume off of your skin, showering or taking an anti-histamine.

Symptoms of a perfume allergy include:

  • itching around your eyes and in your throat
  • scaly dry skin
  • crusty oozing blisters t
  • outbreak of hives
  • patchy reddish skin
  • a burning sensation on your skin with no visible irritation or sores
  • developing sun sensitivity or even mild burns on areas of your skin exposed to the perfume

Symptoms of a perfume sensitivity include:

  • sneezing if the perfume is sprayed near your face and airways (nose, mouth, and throat)
  • itching, running, or stuffiness of your nose
  • post-nasal nasal mucus dripping down the back of your throat
  • persistent cough 
  • headaches
  • nausea

If you experience swelling in your mouths, lips and tongue or have an anaphylactic reaction that makes it difficult for you to breathe, get to a hospital immediately.

Natural Coping Strategies

If you develop the skin itching associated with a perfume sensitivity taking a colloidal oatmeal bath could help smooth the itching and inflammation. It is also a good idea to avoid lotions, creams and soaps with perfume as wells. Sitting in the sun or a bit of light therapy can also help your skin heal.

It always a good idea to spray just a small a bit of a new perfume or cologne on your wrist before you use a lot of it so you can spare yourself the contact dermatitis, wheezing and sneezing or any other negative results from its use. As it is the holiday season it is likely that some people will be gifted with perfume this year, with hopefully with only pleasant consequences.

For more information about allergy testing testing and coping with common allergies, nutrition, Toronto weight loss or to book a consultation about anti-aging, naturopathic testing, weight loss programs or any health issue you may be experiencing, visit the Pinewood Natural Healthcare Centre website that has a list of full services and products at or call our Toronto Office at (416)-656- 8100. We also have an office in Pickering, Ontario at (905)-427-0057. You can also email us at and we would be happy to answer any question that you have about our holistic health services.

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