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This planet is a smelly place -- and that makes it a tough world for people with fragrance sensitivities. You may cringe when your boyfriend buys you perfume or feel sick when somebody plugs in an air freshener -- and forget about walking into a bath item shop that smells like the inside of a cologne bottle! The smartest way to overcome a fragrance sensitivity is to avoid products that give you headaches, rashes or asthma attacks. However, if you want to enjoy your scented candles and boldly enter those sweet-smelling stores at the mall, allergy treatments may help you cope with this smelly world.
Browse your home for fragrance products that make you feel sick or give you rashes. These may include perfumes, air fresheners, skin products and shampoos. Line them up on a table and read the ingredients to see if you spot a pattern. Chemicals that often cause irritation include balsam of Peru, citronella, oak moss and synthetic fragrances like Lyral, according to "The Truth About Fragrance Sensitivity" from the March/April 2009 issue of "Best Health Magazine." Also note if any specific scents bug you, such as jasmine or vanilla. Even smells straight from nature can cause allergic reactions.
When buying new products -- such as skin cleansers and lotions -- look for labels that say "fragrance free" or "perfume free." Avoid those that contain chemicals that irritate you.
Avoid stores that sell fragrances and the cosmetic and perfume areas in department stores. Being around a myriad of smells can trigger a reaction, and sensitivities can snowball.
Buy an air purifier with both a gas filter and particulate filtration to get rid of fragrance chemicals in the air.
Visit your doctor for allergy testing. Auckland Allergy Clinic's website states that a common patch test includes a fragrance mix and balsam of Peru, a substance from fir trees that contains a number of allergens such as benzyl acetate, cinnamic acid, eugenol and isoeugenol. Your doctor may administer allergy shots as treatment.
Next time you buy a new fragrance product, perform an in-home patch test by applying a coin-sized dab of the product to your forearm twice a day for five days, as Auckland Allergy Clinic recommends. If a rash or other symptoms occur, don't use the product.
Keep antihistamines on hand in case of an extreme allergic reaction.
Don't fall for products labeled "hypoallergenic." Manufacturers can use this label without passing any standardized inspections, according to Auckland Allergy Clinic.
Some products labeled "unscented" have fragrances added to them to make them unscented -- and those chemicals can still cause irritation or an allergic reaction, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.