Fragrance sensitivity refers to the physical symptoms caused by fragrances and scents, such as runny nose, headache and nausea. Fragrance sensitivity is not the same as fragrance allergy, which is characterised by contact allergy manifesting in the areas of skin which have come into contact with fragranced products.
Fragrance sensitivity is caused by the body’s unusual way of reacting to scents and fragrances. The sense of smell of those with fragrance sensitivity is not unusually sensitive. Instead, they lack the capability to get used to scents. The symptoms of fragrance sensitivity are real and they have a significant impact on the quality of life of those affected.
According to a survey aimed at Finns and conducted by the Allergy, Skin and Asthma Federation, approximately one in three Finns experiences symptoms caused by fragrances and scents at least occasionally. Of these, just under a third were classified to have severe fragrance sensitivity. Fragrance sensitivity has a significant impact on the quality of life of roughly half a million Finns.
According to the survey, fragrance sensitivity is considerably more common in women than men. For most, the symptoms have started before the age of 30.
The most common symptoms of fragrance sensitivity are runny and itchy nose, headache and eye symptoms. Other possible symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, scratchy throat, skin symptoms and dizziness. While the severity of sensitivity may vary, symptoms occur throughout the year. Strongest symptoms are caused by perfumes and colognes, scented candles, hair sprays and other hair styling products and strongly fragrant flowers. Natural fragrances trigger the symptoms less frequently.
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Symptoms of fragrance sensitivity typically occur in places like public transport, restaurants, bars and theatres. Contrary to what you might think, perfumes and colognes are not the only irritants causing symptoms of fragrance sensitivity. Fragrances can be found in unexpected products, such as candles and detergents.
Fragrance sensitivity is one of the fastest-growing sensitivities in the Nordic countries. Since we can’t always know if someone near us has fragrance sensitivity, every now and then it is a good idea to stop to think about how many fragranced products you use and how strong they are. Our nose gets used to the fragrances we use very quickly, which, over time, just makes us use the fragranced products more.
Fragrance sensitivity can lead to social isolation at work, at home, at school and in free time.
Source: Allergy, Skin and Asthma Federation
To learn more about fragrance sensitivity: here
Information about fragrance allergy: here