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Perfumes and Fragrances in the Workplace, etc?
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Olivia_WebMD_Staff posted:
Hi everyone!

This debate topic comes from member bobby75703:

Perfume! For some it may smell beautiful. For others the solvents and chemicals in perfumes, scented candles, and plug-in air "fresheners" can be bothersome.

Some of the chemicals in synthetic scents can be toxic, some are even carcinogens, and can result in headaches, nausea, or respiratory difficulty for sensitive groups.

Perfume is banned within the choir at my Church for these very reasons. So lets clear the air on this topic.

Do some people's perfumes and colognes make you sick?


Moderator Addition: Where does it bother you most? Workplace? Elevator? Are there places where you think perfumes and other scented items should NOT be allowed?




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Here is some interesting information -- Allergy Triggers in Your Workplace -- that you may find helpful if you have been reacting to strong scents in your environment.
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Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
I guess it is a toss up.....strong perfume or B.O.?

I once worked with the doctor who's body odor was so repulsive, that patients would repeatedly ask ME to tell him. I suspect that even it he wore cologne, that he would still stink.

Personally, I do not like strong perfumes or scents. I am not allergic to them...nor do I have headaches, but I don't care for them. I would go through other doors at a department store to avoid the perfume department, and I could never enter a scented candle store. When I exam a patient with strong perfume, it ends up on my hands. It can take hours of repeated washings to get the smell from my hands. The older the patient, the stronger the perfume, I have found.

Do I tell them? No. I just tolerate it. I really don't expose the B.O. group either. People can rarely smell themselves, at least critically, but I am not going to be the one who exposes them. Since I work 12-hours clinic shifts, I am more concerned about myself. I do use a bit of subtle aftershave (if I remember), and have never received a complaint.

After a lifelong career of smelling a lot of repulsive human odors, I really shouldn't complain if some of my patient are a bit over-flowery. It could be worse.....
 
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wmatto83 responded:
I do agree some Perfumes are really overpowering. I have been an Avon Rep for many years and we have a big selection of many different perfumes. Some are that old musky smell that always is overpowering others are light and fruity/flowery. Here is the other thing it really depends on the person that is putting it on. I can put on and certain scent and my friend could put on the exact same thing and she could smell totally different good or bad. It is the oils in our skin I guess that makes us all smell different.
Some peoples perfumes are so overpowering that if they give you a present you can't get the smell out of that item forever! lol! I like perfumes so most of the time they honestly don't get to me. I really don't think there should be restrictions. It is almost being sort of like a bigot if you put restrictions on this stuff. I think restaurant owners would be the only ones that should be able to tell there employees lay off the perfume because of working around fun it can really deter the taste of foods. But other than that how would you restrict that?? Obviously stores could not restrict this kind of thing. I guess when it comes to your workplace if it is an office setting again I think that should be up to the owner of the business.
 
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rohvannyn responded:
I like the policy my office has, no perfume that can be smelled at beyond arm's length and no heavy perfumes or colognes. Either causes sneezing and coughing in me. I am also bothered by people who come in reeking of tobacco. It's not the place of government to decide, however I support my fellow asthmatics in politely making their cases to HR.
 
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chatley64 replied to wmatto83's response:
Employees need to be the ones that should not wear perfume to work, especially when having contact with the public. Especially, especially when working in a medical facility where patients may be really sick and not feeling well. The strong or even mild scents could nauseate them even more and cause them to vomit. Not good. Not to mention, I know some people who have had asthma attacks because of someone wearing perfume or spraying Lysol or air freshener.
 
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LotaHossain responded:
I think cleanliness is key. If someone showers regularly and wears deodorant/antiperspirant (for those with excess sweating, carry lightly scented body wipes and use when needed), and maybe even uses body/talc powder then there is very little need for perfume. Clothing needs to be washed regularly, as well, even if it doesn't APPEAR soiled- if it's holding a scent other than laundry detergent or softener, etc., it needs to be washed.

I, myself, do enjoy a good perfume - although I prefer lightly scented after-shower body sprays- if they are not TOO strong. Many people put on too much or choose scents are overwhelming. You only need a small spritz on the chest area (or perhaps in the hair) or a small dab on the inner wrists and behind the ears. YOU'RE NOT MEANT TO BATHE IN IT!

Strong perfumes bother me the most in elevators (no ventilation) and at restaurants ( I want to smell my food, not you.)

A little bit is okay; too much is a big problem as it triggers my headaches and nausea.

I have this same problem with people who smoke and although they may not be smoking around me indoors, they all smell like disgusting, toxic, stale ashtrays. Even worse is when they come near my 5 year-old son and trigger an asthma attack.

I think people just need to stop and think a minute. Have some common sense and respect and courtesy for others.

I shouldn't have to breathe in your pollution, whatever form it may come in.

I think strong, offensive, and overwhelming perfumes, smell of cigarette or whatnot should be banned from schools, day-cares and health care facilities.
 
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lb707 replied to wmatto83's response:
I personally love all the smells of candles, perfume etc. My allergist induced asthma does not. Emergency inhaler is with me all the time.....so for me I can not go into any place with these smells....I walk down the cleaning aisle with something over my nose to buy my unscented detergent.

I don't like to push my problems on others but if you work in a closed in place your smells may be the cause of someone else's suffering.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities is real and growing. At my allergist there is a sign about no perfumes or hairspray in the office. It is a safe place for some of us.

I laughed about the older you get the more perfume you wear...my Mom puts me into at least one asthma attack a month. She really tries, but still forgets and uses her fragranced lotion when I pick her up.
 
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jenna291 replied to lb707's response:
Having gone thru chemotherapy 4 years ago, I have been way more sensitive to strong odors. Some of my friends joke that I just don't like perfume but its more than that. It can make me feel sick to my stomach.
I agree with others that overpowering perfumes should not be allowed in work environments, particularly where there are sick patients who may be more sensitive.
 
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jis4judy responded:
I think perfumes do not belong in the wiorkplace . especially hospitals and the like even more so .. I was in hospital with a servere asthma attack and my attending nurse was wearinng very strong perfume my stay in the hospital was not helping what i came there to help you would think a nurse would know better .
and another time I had some techie come to the house to fix my computer he was wearing so much after shave or colone that his smell was in my house for 2 days the next time I called for tech support to get something fixed I spesified I would rather a tech that didn;t wear colonge or aftershave please and they were dumfounded as to why .It took some explaining so they sent me a guy that wasn;t smelly ..I told tham I would rather smell the body oder than the perfume...
Hugs Judy:)
 
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Torcal replied to Rod_Moser_PA_PhD's response:
Re. your BO patients, tell them: When evaluating a person's general health one of the tests I use is smell. All of us have bacteria on our skin that is usually washed off by showering. If the body is not cleaned regularly, the number of bacteria grow and eventually emit their own chemical aroma generally called body odor.

Although you probably cannot detect this odor, you feel oblged to tell you that you do have a significant level of body odor. And that concerns me because it is generally unhealthy to have such a high level of bacteria growing on your skin.

I'll note our conversations on your chart. Start bathing and shampooing your hair, at minimum, every ___ days, and we will revisit the subject again at our next appointment.
 
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seafaring responded:
It is IMPERATIVE to reduce the assault of fragrances and other airborn particulates EVERYWHERE! Especially when traveling on public transportation and staying in hotels or driving rental cars. Why? Well, it goes beyond 'thinking' that a fragrance is nice or agreeable. For those of us with Chemical Sensitivities it is a matter of our immune systems being assaulted and for some being compromised, and becoming very ill.

I never had so much as an allergy in my entire life.....until I was about 40. It hit me all at once....with no warning. Within minutes of getting in to a car rental which had been sprayed with Febreeze or some commercial fragrance I began vomiting, uncontrolably. At first I thought it must be the flu, but it was soon evident that my symptoms would dissipate when not being exposed. As time went on it became clear that I could not breathe in any form of perfume, fragrance, chemical or petroleum product. For example, I can't walk down the automotive and bicycle aisle (tires, and rubber products) in Wal-Mart without getting sick, or cosmetic and laundry detergent/cleaning supply aisles at the grocery store.
It changes how one approaches life and public spaces. It is completely insensitive to lather up with perfumes and colognes in the work place, or anywhere one goes outside of your own home.

The effects of toxins are silently accumulating in our systems and eventually hit a tipping point of saturation and one finds themselves instantly affected.

If you think of how many toxic substances we are exposed to in todays society which are compounded by an unprecedented consumer fixation on cosmetics and the need to spray something everywhere...it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that we have already reached the tipping point. It is no different than inhaling second hand smoke, but that is a whole other topic of debate.
 
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nursingbug replied to jenna291's response:
My workplace does not allow perfumes or anything strongly scented- there are many that work here and they are severly affected by scents- asthma attacks, etc. I had a cousin who would break out in a severe rash when exposed to some scents.
I worked as a nurse in oncology, and the patients who were on chemo had extremely strong sense of smell, as well as many of them were battling nausea, so the scent issue was a big deal- some even complained about the scent of my hair, I washed it in the morning before work with a very plain shampoo and conditioner.
 
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Mathchickie responded:
I frequently have asthma issues from people's perfume, or with cigarette smoke clinging to clothes. My allergist forbids it in the office, but I think many people honestly don't realize that their perfume is excessive. And I run into it a LOT at work.
 
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birdlegg replied to Mathchickie's response:
I also cannot stand to go near the laundry soaps, scented candles in the stores. I had a lady from the oxygen company come out to check my husbands machine that smelled like she took a bath in perfume. Now wouldn't you think common sense would tell you someone that's using oxygen has a breathing problem. Sheech!
 
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csm1311 responded:
Yes, perfumes, air fresheners, candles, etc., should be banned from the workplace, as well as all public buildings. I have asthma and severe sensitivity to those things. I can no longer work in an office, had to stop going to church, have problems with shopping because of perfumes at entrances to stores, and even have problems at doctor offices because of other patients wearing it. I often have to let the receptionist know that I will be outside when it's my turn.


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