What are Fragrance Allergies?
Fragrance Allergy or Perfume Allergy refers to an allergic reaction that occurs in some individuals as a result of the strong scent of some products, specifically perfumes, soaps, detergents, hair products and many more. Allergies are usually considered a disorder of the immune system, making it extremely sensitive to the tiniest of substances, no matter how harmless they are.
An allergic reaction occurs when histamine is produced to combat the allergen, hence causing symptoms like sneezing, hives, skin rashes and headaches to occur.
Asthma is also a symptom of an allergic reaction. Individuals with this kind of allergy exhibit these symptoms when exposed to a strong fragrance or scent.
An allergic reaction to fragrance is not really caused by the smell itself, but by the chemicals used in the production of the fragrance.
Chemicals like cinnamonic alcohol, eugenol, and hydroxycitronellal are examples of the chemicals used in fragrance production.
Sneezing, skin irritation, hives, eczema, runny nose, nausea, dizziness and respiratory difficulties are some of the symptoms of a fragrance allergy.
Due to the complexity of the chemicals in the fragrance, they cause an irritation in the sensitive mucus membrane in the nose, and also irritate the mouth and eyes.
Some even crystallize in the lungs.
Testing for Fragrance Allergies involves a method known as fragrance mix. This is a mixture of eight separate fragrances that are the most common allergy causing, used in most products. These fragrances include cinnamic alcohol, Cinnamic aldehyde, Eugenol, Geraniol, Alpha amyl cinnamic alcohol, Hydroxycitronellal, Isoeugenol and Oak moss absolute.
This testing detects about 75% of this type of allergy.
It is also possible to test yourself for fragrance allergies, especially if using products like lotions. Caution should be taken however before this is done, and it is advisable to consult a doctor.
Fragrance Allergies reactions subside once the fragrance is out of range. Often times, how ever, the reaction recurs long after the fragrance has faded. As a lot of doctors have always said, prevention is better than cure. The best way to protect yourself against this allergen is by avoiding such fragrances likely to cause a reaction.
This is not to say that non-scented products cannot produce a reaction and are therefore safe. The reason you cannot smell their scent is because chemicals may have been used to hide the scent. Chemicals that will bring about the same reaction.
The more expensive product have no better chance of avoiding fragrance allergies. Even if you pay top dollar, the result could still be an allergic reaction. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that fragrance allergy is the most common cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis, affecting more than two million people.