How Is Perfume Allergy Different From Perfume Sensitivity? | Symptoms & Treatment of Perfume Allergy

An allergic reaction that occurs when exposed to a perfume or a fragrance that contains an allergen is known as a perfume allergy.

The allergy can be triggered by coming in contact with the liquid in the perfume or spraying the perfume on the body and inhaling it.

A survey estimated that about 30 percent of the population in the United States had perfume allergy.(1)

There are numerous chemicals in the perfume that can lead to an allergic reaction and many of which are not even listed in the perfume or cologne.

How Is Perfume Allergy Different From Perfume Sensitivity?

How Is Perfume Allergy Different From Perfume Sensitivity?

During allergy, there is a response of the body’s immune system when it comes in contact with the chemical in the perfume. This chemical is identified as a foreign substance and inflammatory reaction is released to fight off the substance. Allergy is caused due to proteins that the body reacts to with an inflammatory response.

Perfume sensitivity is a more common reaction to a substance that irritates the body. There is no immune system response but just a rash that goes away after a few hours. It is caused by the irritants that are present in the perfume.

Symptoms of Perfume Allergy

Perfume allergy and sensitivity might have slightly different symptoms.


A few symptoms that occur during a perfume allergy are:

  • Excessive itching, with or without rash
  • Itching around the eyes and in the throat
  • Scaly and dry skin
  • Patchy and reddish skin
  • Crusty blisters that ooze pus
  • Being sensitive to sunlight
  • Burning in the skin with no visible sore
  • Hives


Perfume sensitivity can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Persistent cough
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Postnasal drip
  • Itchy, runny nose
  • Stuffiness in the nose
  • Excessive sneezing on inhaling the perfume

There are a few emergency symptoms that might require immediate medical attention, that include:

  • Swelling of mouth, lip, and tongue can be uncomfortable making it hard to breathe, eat and talk. Such a case might require to be treated with corticosteroids, to quickly reduce the swelling.
  • Anaphylaxis, which happens when the airway gets inflamed and closes. It is because the body releases a high volume of a type of antibody IgE, which makes it difficult or impossible to breathe.

Treatment of Perfume Allergy

The treatment is based on the symptom and the substance that has caused the allergy.

The main treatment for perfume allergy can be just avoiding the substance that causes allergy.

Other Treatments For Perfume Allergy Include:

  • Medications: Oral antihistamines can help with itching and stuffiness. You can get them over-the-counter or can also get them prescribed by a doctor.
  • Corticosteroid Creams: Itchy rashes can be alleviated by applying hydrocortisone or similar steroid cream.
  • Oatmeal Bath: Oatmeal bath can help soothe the itching and inflammation.
  • Moisturization: Use creams and lotion that do not contain any artificial ingredients or chemicals that might trigger another reaction.
  • Light Therapy: Red or blue light can be used to eliminate the bacteria irritating the skin. It would also help reduce the immune response and soothe and repair the tissue.

If perfume allergies are disrupting your life it’s good to get the allergen testing done. A patch test is done that exposes you to small amounts of different allergens and the triggers are determined.(2) Once the allergen is determined, avoiding it can stop the allergy flare-ups.

How To Cope With Perfume Allergy?

The best way to cope with perfume allergy is to avoid the substance causing the allergy.

Try natural plant-based perfumes.

Being cautious and not using the substance can be successfully done. But how can you control the environment and reduce perfume allergy? Try the below-mentioned tips:

  • Avoid common areas where the people wearing perfume would be a cause of triggering the allergies.
  • Keep a small air purifier near the workplace
  • Let the people you work with know about your allergy
  • Avoid using scented products
  • Get a flu shot every year to keep the immune systems strong.

Perfume allergies and sensitivities can be very disturbing. Getting treated, limiting exposure, and making people around you aware of the same can be of great help.

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