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Readers Respond: Coping Strategies for Scent Sensitive Persons

Responses: 30

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From the article: Are Scents Making You Sick?
Share Post: Are you sensitive to certain smells? How do you manage living in a world full of perfumes and toxic chemical smells? Please help other scent-sensitives by sharing your strategies for living amidst an aroma-filled world.

Please Note: The submission form for reader input has been temporarily disabled.

Try living in a chemical free house

I suffer from the same reactions and have lived in a chemical free house for more than 20 years. I use no artificial deodorants or bathroom room fragrances (lighting a match removes smells), no smelly toilet paper - nothing with a smell. For cleaning use white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, eucalyptus oil, Oil of Orange and Gumpton (Brand name). I make my own soap and shampoo (and use the PURE essential oils I can tolerate). I buy Herbon (brand name) chemical and fragrance free washing powder. Removed the carpets from my house and use a portable dehumidifier with HEPA filters. Traveling on public transport is a nightmare! Exposure to some perfumes feels like a hot poker is being pushed up my nose. I develop debilitating headaches and my mood plummets. If I am going to work meeting I take codeine to block my receptors. I sit at the end of the isles at the cinema and cannot attend the opera or ballet due to the intensity of the perfumes. Hope my tips are helpful for you.
—MaryRB

Coping Devices

Sensitive to chemical smells, i.e. perfume, detergents, cleaning products. Trader Joe's has products which have helped. They have unscented soap (2 to a pkg.) and Dr. Bronner's liquid soap with Peppermint Oil. That has saved me. I clean with it and spray it on the back of my neck and on chest. It must be diluted about 3 to 1. I keep small spray bottles of it. Vicks VapoRub helps. I put it in the nose and at the base of the nose. One must learn coping devices.
—Guest Diane

Response to Everyone smells

For us that suffer from chemical sensitivities. I don't have a choice. I work in cubicles around 12 people and most wear perfumes. There is nowhere for me to go. Please provide your recommendations on that. Also someone also commented.... everyone can't "walk around" every illness so we can't accommodate everyone ( talking about those with chemical sensitivities). I understand your perspective but you obviously have never walked in our shoes. I need to work but I am on the verge of filing for disability because my company will not be accommodating. And I spend EVERYDAY.... with headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme fatigue. The moment I go home I crash. There have been days where my husband has to pick me up from work because I have fainted due to the extreme duress this has caused me. So forgive me if your advice is not only possible but you should not speak unless you truly understand. I am guessing your advice would be to change jobs... same problem everywhere.
—Guest Kristen

Help for perfume sensitivity

I brought some really good nasal pads from amazon called breath pure breathable nasal air filters.you insert them in your nose they are flesh coloured and they actually do stop most perfume smells. I had major problems at work with air fresheners and I got in touch with health and safety through my union and the school had to remove them . They cause breathing problems for asthmatics. Unsympathetic staff still continued to wear perfume but these pads with a dab of peppermint oil on my nostrils stopped the smell which reduced the amount of migraines I get from the smells . Vicks Vapo Rub up my nostrils also helps . For the pain I have found the only thing that works is Imigran which can be brought at any chemist. I have just been referred by a neurologist for Botox so maybe this might help . Hope this is helpful. I sympathise with all of you it is a disabling condition where not many people actually understand how painful it is.
—Guest Jackie

Skin/Hair Reacts to Perfumes

I've been allergic to scents for years and have eliminated from the home. Have the typical allergy trifecta - allergies, eczema, asthma. Typically they caused the usual headache/tight throat. However, 2 years ago during a hugely stressful time at work, a co-workers perfume caused exaggerated symptoms, headache, throat tightening, skin itching, eczema and after prolonged exposure, hair loss to an extreme with flaky crusty scalp. Tried everything and saw a dermo. It all calmed down and my hair grew back after left that job. However, I now have a new job that sends me different places and one of the places I work has a manager that wears perfume similar to my former co-worker's and my head and body are itching and I'm worried about my hair and skin. Although all perfume bothers me, it's just some that cause this intense reaction. Arrggghh . . . people think I'm some kind of environmental extremist but I really have effects. -Mary
—Guest Sensitive Mary

Keep nose moist

Smells cause more than headaches for me. I also cannot stand noise and my whole demeanor changes to someone who is unable to cope and just wants to stay in bed until it passes, which can be up to five days. I will try some of suggestions given but unfortunately avoidance is the only thing that works for me right now. I miss going places and wish the world was chemical/toxin free. Wear natural scents and use natural products for everyone's health.
—Guest Nancy

You can heal!

It is a brain damage in the limbic system! It is not an allergy, but you have to cure your brain and retrain it not to smell and get angry at smells. I did it with Faster EFT. I am almost completely well, I did it, and now there is only smoke left, and I am working on that one too! I live kind of a normal life nowadays :-) Love to you all!
—Guest Emi

Happy to find you, other think I'm crazy

It started with RAID. I had huge headache after exposure. After that I started feel it with SUAVITEL fabric softener. Then later in other fabric softeners like SNUGLE. What is very interesting I was usually buying SNUGLE from STOp&SHOP, then once I purchase it from regular DELI and smell hits me, I ran quickly to S&S and get all the older dated, non-toxic for me bottles - thus UNILEVER must change some ingredients. Other UNILEVER products such as AXE shampoos doesn't hurt. I notice there must be something in smell encapsulates (smell extenders) that hurts me, any "perfum'" or softeners guaranteed to smell more than a day is bad for me. AND for last CAR SCENTS - headache guaranteed in lest than 10 sec. Can smell it just following a car with open windows stuffed with "TOXIC TREES", especially "BLACK ICE" and "NEW CAR SCENT" - a #1 torture for me. PS: I have no problem with skunk, rotten egg, or old bad garbage smell - it's not a pleasure but it doesn't hurt.
—Guest Pete

anyone know what to do about dryer fumes

I have clothes dryer vents literally all around my first floor apartment and strong scents such as gain and downy are exhausted out into my home and yard most of the day, I am working with Zeolite, which does help some by absorbing VOC if it is in the shade so it adsorbs (not spelling error) instead of charging (it works like carbon to absorb VOC but is rechargeable in sunlight so you can use it for years.) The scented laundry products are the worst as they are forced out at high speed and unless all doors and windows are closed they get in. Landlady told me to move. If I go somewhere with no washers in the apartments then my clothes get full of fragrances from previous fragranced washings by others, if I stay here where I am I have a washer and can use fragrance free products but due to neighbors upwind I am in a dryer gas chamber...it really sucks! Anyone know what to do about avoiding scented laundry products coming from exhaust vents nearby? I wear a carbon mask indoors sometimes!
—Guest rodella

Threaten to Sue Offenders

Well, I just tell people outright that the chemicals they use will make me collapse and be ill. Then I say "do you want me to sue".....? it is not until then that they take any notice. They don't suffer from it - so it doesn't exist.!! They moan enough about cigarette smoke though. People just refuse to understand that they are breathing in dangerous chemicals, even worse they endanger their children with their obsession with "perfume." Won't even open windows for fresh air, but prefer to buy it in a spray chemical. How stupid is that!!
—Guest sheila

Eye Opener

It's RUDE that people are so disrespectful when it comes to smell sensitivities. For those Ignorant people I just want to ask, is it really that hard to NOT wear perfume or cologne? Will it kill you??? I don't think so... but let me tell you when you wear perfume or cologne it could kill me!!! I can't breathe ....my bronchioles in my lungs close up. I used to be like you. I wore perfume and I thought it was my right. Now that I suffer. I realize I was wrong It's other people's right to be able to breathe.
—Guest Upset

It's not the perfume, it's the chemicals

I am not allergic to beautiful scents. I am allergic to the chemicals that the modern perfumes contain (mostly ethanol products). I love the natural smells of flowers, the smell of Spring etc. In fact I use Arabian scents as I am not allergic to them (I guess they don't use ethanol products in their scents) and they smell awesome and long lasting, anyone of you who wants to wear beautiful smell and not be allergic to them at the same time should try Arabian scents (I am not sure if they are all ethanol free some may contain these chemicals but i haven't found one that does yet).
—Guest Salman

Stop Bashing Sensitivities of Others

Those who came here to bash people with sensitivity need to go away or show some compassion. Having a headache for days because you wear too much perfume is not your "right." Thank goodness laws are changing and work environments are being considered. If you wear inappropriate clothing I can avoid looking at you, but we can't help but breathe. Yes there are typos and yes I'm pissed. Think of someone else for a change!
—Guest help or leave

Filter Masks, Nasal Rinse, Aerobics

I am so sensitive to smell of grooming chemicals, I have stopped entering buildings. I can smell it from 200 feet. I cope with it by wearing mask that painters use. The smell not only cause the headache which may lasts several days, my brain slows down. Also the skin and nose absorbs the chemicals which are difficult to get rid of. I use saline nasal rinse using water, salt and baking soda to clear the nose. The 6oz re-useable bottle I use is sold under brand name "Ayr." The only method that works for me for full recovery is to do intense aerobics for about an hour which gets rid of absorbed perfume on skin through sweating and restores the brain function by increasing the blood circulation. So I organize my activities depending when I plan to do my aerobics. As a last resort I have taken shower using perfume free laundry detergent instead of soap to get rid of perfume from my skin. This happened when a couple of times after visiting doctors office and was too sick to do aerobics.
—Guest Guest SK

Wanting to run away !

I am hypersensitive to smells which drives my family crazy at times. Ex: I began smelling something in my child's room (death or rotting) and Noone else could smell it at the time. A few days went by, I entered the room to wake my daughters up an the foul odor caused me to run to the bathroom gagging and vomit. My husband claimed he could barely smell anything as well as my daughters ( which had slept in the room all night and most likely become immune ) the smell progressed to the other side of the house ( for me) and my husband insisted he could not smell it anywhere. I wish there was a pill I could take to lower my sensitivities..it's just miserable :(
—Guest Angel
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