“I have allergies to perfume and other fragrances. How can I navigate this scented world and escape the fragrance?” – Connie from Federicton, New Brunswick
For those of us with allergies, many scents can trigger a reaction: perfume, incense, and candles, to name a few. We live in a very social world and it is difficult to carry a flag that says “No Fragrance Allowed”! There are three methods we can use to navigate olfactory overload: situational awareness, transforming friends and family into allies, and utilizing gap protocols.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing a face-mask not only prevents you from spreading the virus, it offers some level of personal protection from a range of smells. Following social distancing guidelines also serves the double service of minimizing exposure to Coronavirus and controlling the intensity of scent vulnerability. A face mask is your first line of defense.
Second is your situational awareness. Think about your activities and locations for the day. How will your surroundings affect your allergies or threshold for a negative reaction? What can you avoid, and how can you mitigate the things you must face? Your best avenue to control your allergic response is prevention.
As the country re-opens, continuing to avert crowding will be the norm in most public areas. However, when walking through a shopping mall, sidestep the stores that propel scents (like candles and body products) and detour fragrance departments in the larger establishments. If you are in a confined space, such as an elevator, it can be especially difficult when someone else is drowning in aftershave. Consider getting off at another floor and either catching the next ride or taking the stairs.
Transform Friends & Family into Allies
Share information about your allergies with your friends and family. Telling these important people around you about your symptoms can help you cope by transforming them into allies. Approaching the subject as an awareness issue, without singling out one person, helps everyone get on board. It’s important to give your friends and family an opportunity to recognize the problem, not only for you, but for others as well. When you do this in a courteous way, you can get good results and turn your friends and family into staunch allies helping you limit exposure.
When you are going to a new work environment or social gathering, wear your face mask and keep your distance. If there is a fragrance you find offensive, either move away from the person, or move away from a common area. People tend to congregate in areas such as a foyers, break rooms, or restrooms. Being in larger spaces will usually translate to less direct contact and with fewer people, meaning less exposure to fragrances overall.
While an ounce of prevention goes a long way, you will want access to a variety of stop-gap measures. This includes examining all of your personal and household products. Your immediate environment could be contributing to your symptoms. Most products are now available in hypo-allergenic and/or fragrance-free varieties. Even scents you like, such as your shampoo and conditioner, could be increasing your sensitivity triggers
There are many different treatment options as well. Over-the-counter nasal medications can effectively control allergy symptoms. Air purifiers with gas or carbon filters are a great tool for your home and office. So are small fans that blow air away and help keep scents from lingering. And there is an array of homeopathic remedies you can investigate. The key is finding what works effectively in different situations, so you can have it readily available when the need arises.
Fragrance is all around us and becoming more pervasive. There are many methods you can tap to stimulate your body’s own inherent healing capacity. When your environment makes you uncomfortable, look for ways to influence your surroundings. Be proactive and anticipate areas of concern. With planning, allies, and relief strategies, you can make sure exposure doesn’t interfere with your life.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.