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- What Are Scent Allergies?
- Diagnosing Scent Allergies
- Help for Scent Allergies
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What Are Scent Allergies?
Scents are the leading cause of skin rash which is known as contact dermatitis according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Scents are responsible for generalized allergic reactions as well. Perfumes and scents are everywhere, including body care products, air fresheners, laundry products and a multitude of other items.
Scent allergies are complex reactions that your body produces as a defense mechanism. Unfortunately, people with scent allergies have overactive immune responses which provoke allergic symptoms. Sometimes scents cause true allergic reactions, while other times the scent itself is an irritating substance.
Scent allergies are difficult to diagnose and live with because so many chemicals are blended to make a fragrance. Hundreds of chemical compounds may be contained within one fragrance, and even fragrance-free products contain chemicals designed to block scents of the ingredients used within the products.
How Are Scent Allergies Diagnosed?
Due to the complex nature of scents and their prevalence in products, diagnosis can be challenging. If you think that you have an allergy to a scent, use an unscented variety of the product if it is available. If you still have symptoms, then it is more likely that you have a chemical allergy instead of a scent allergy. You will still be challenged with finding the offending substance, but scent can be ruled out.
Allergists are medical doctors who specialize in immune health and allergic reactions. You may want to consult with one. A detailed history as well as blood and skin testing may be employed to determine the source of your symptoms.
Alternative health practitioners offer supportive treatments which reduce the underlying causes of hypersensitivity to scents.
Contact dermatitis may occur if you come into physical contact with a scent that you are allergic to. Symptoms include itching, oozing and red raised lesions, and your skin may also be scaly, peeling, red or have cracks.
Digestive and mood disturbances as well as systemic reactions are also common. Wheezing, generalized itching, hives, runny nose, itchy eyes and nasal stuffiness may be present, with reactions generally occurring rapidly after exposure.
Help for Scent Allergies
The most effective treatment of scent allergies is to minimize exposure to the scent and enhance the health of your immune system. Total elimination of exposure is often impossible as scents are so prevalent.
Conventional practitioners may prescribe antihistamines for itching, hives and respiratory symptoms. Antihistamines are effective in the presence of true allergies, but can cause drowsiness. Topical creams containing antihistamines or steroids may be prescribed as well; however, they are not used if open lesions are present.
A healthy body and immune system are keys to eliminating or diminishing allergic responses.
What Else Can I Do to Eliminate Exposure to Scents and Feel Better If I Have Symptoms?
There are several approaches that you can take. Try these ideas for starters.
- Talk with your co-workers, friends and family members. Let them know that you are sensitive to scents. Ask them if they would minimize use of perfumes and other strong fragrances, or see if your employer would consider a fragrance-free policy at work.
- Use an air purifier or fan.
- Minimize time spent in crowded places.
- Telecommute if that is an option.
- Use simple, natural products on your skin and in your home.
- Eat a whole foods, natural diet with a high proportion of raw foods.
By implementing these measures, you will soon find that you have fewer symptoms and can regain a sense of wellbeing.