August 18, 2006
I am always really grateful that I am not one of those people who have an intolerance or allergic reaction to fragrances. It seems very sad to me that there are people who cannot enjoy perfumes. There is speculation that this has become such a big problem because the most commonly used commercial perfumes usually contain many synthetic ingredients that do not occur in nature, and added to all the other environmental irritants that are out there the tipping point over the line to oversensitization of the auto immune system is reached. There are certain popular perfumes that contain hundreds of such ingredients, and some of them are known irritants. Also there are many synthetic fragrances added to almost every product, from paper to prepared foods to ink to clothing and dish detergents. This problem has expanded beyond contact dermatitis, which is caused by direct application of the fragrance, to even just the inhalation of the substance. People are now getting migraines, asthma attacks, worsening of chronic conditions such as Lupus or MS from environmental chemical overexposure, including fragrances. That is why there are many militantly opposed to the use of personal fragrance in the workplace or in public places like the theater or on public transportation where many people are in close quarters. Of course there are people who will have an allergic reaction to natural substances also, especially oak moss or certain others that contain high levels of terpenes. But generally it is found that fragrances made with essential oils, especially organic ones, with no chemical preservatives added are not triggers for such physically uncomfortable reactions. We are all in the modern first world countries swimming around in our environment of exposure of many many chemicals the body was never designed to encounter in the first place. Some of us are more sensitive than others, and some have been much more exposed than others, and therefore have become hyper sensitive. This is a big problem that will probably grow over time. Aromatherpy shows that many people are therapeutically and pleasantly affected by natural fragrances. However, in the past few decades, there has been more and more use of the synthetic in perfumes and fragrances, and now the resulting overexposure has backfired and caused many to become oversensitized, which ruins their ability to enjoy any fragrances at all. The large commerical perfume manufacturers should in their own and everyone else's interests be making greater efforts in research and development to figure out and deal with this problem. Otherwise we may wake up one day and find there will be no more perfume wearing allowed indoors anywhere, or it will become something that polite considerate people don't do anymore, because of the health risks to other people.