How Can I Tell If I’m Allergic to A Perfume?

Just imagine getting a hold of your favorite perfume, you apply it, and just like that, rashes appear immediately!

Wouldn’t that be a major bummer? Especially if the fragrance is dear to you.

According to dermatologists, perfume allergies happen more often than you think, and they are the second most causative agent to skin allergies. Just because it acted okay with you does not mean it may not react differently to someone else. 

So in this piece, we shall be answering a few questions centered on perfume allergy. But first, let us look at a few possible reasons for how perfume allergies may arise.

Reasons Why Perfume React to Our Skin

allergies to perfume ingredients

If you are allergic to one of the ingredients

Jasmine smells divine, pure, and heavenly, but it may cause some bad reactions with your skin if you are allergic to it. The same applies to any other substance you are allergic to when used to make that perfume.

Regardless of the allergen’s concentration in the fragrance, you will get an adverse reaction whenever you apply or inhale the scent with the allergens present.

If the perfume has expired

Perfume allergy might also root from you using a fragrance that has reached the end of its life span and has become stale.

Most perfumes will have a fishy smell when they expire, but what if yours did not have?

Perfumes age differently, and that is why you are advised to know its expiry date to avoid it at all costs. You may have used the fragrance with no reactions before, but skin perfume allergy might occur after it becomes stale.

Why Do Allergies Happen?

about perfume allergies reactions

Allergies are your body’s immune system reacting to a specific stimulus introduced to the body.

It may be any foreign body like dust, pollen, or in this case, fragrances. Allergies can also arise when someone ingests a food item that they are allergic to.

Skin allergies happen the same way, although they differ from person to person. Some people get mild reactions like rashes, while others get full blows hives that can be incredibly painful.

The body’s antibodies trigger the reactions towards the allergen—antibodies are the soldiers of the body. So when the allergen gets introduced, the antibodies are the ones that attack and give out the adverse reactions known as allergic reactions.

How to Tell if I’m Allergic to Perfume?

Knowing if you are allergic to a particular fragrance will be pretty straightforward. Anytime you get exposed to it by application or inhaling, your body will react.

For instance, if your allergic reaction is on the skin, every spot that gets into contact with the perfume will react by changing color, itching, or swelling on the application.

Suppose your allergic reaction is respiratory, as in the case with someone with asthma. You will start sneezing, whizzing, or even fall short of breath.

What does a Perfume Allergy look like?

skin and nasal reactions to perfume

The appearance of your perfume allergy will depend on the type of reaction you get from the allergy, and the level of effects caused by the perfume allergy.

Skin perfume allergy

Skin induced allergies are pretty gruesome and can escalate quickly from a simple itch to a full-blown boil oozing pus all over. Depending on the severity, immediately after applying the perfume, you may feel a burning sensation on the point of contact.

You may start to itch soon after, and maybe the itch may advance to something entirely worse like a swelling bump, hive, or boil with a liquid inside this.

The only way to get rid of these adverse reactions before they become worse is to head straight to the nearest medical center and carry the fragrance that caused the whole response. The container will give the doctors a starting point while figuring out how to eradicate your perfume allergy before it turns fatal.

Respiratory perfume allergy

Perfume allergy might also trigger symptoms like shortness of breath, whizzing, coughing, runny nose, teary eyes, and overwhelming fatigue.

When this happens, first get rid of the perfume and head out for some fresh air. The reason you do this is to avoid inhaling any more of the fragrance particles that have gone airborne.

If symptoms persist even after using an inhaler, the only way is to head straight to the nearest medical facility for further care.

Digestive disturbances caused by perfume allergy

You may also experience stomach upset that may lead to vomiting and feeling nauseated, usually accompanied by a migraine, a lack of concentration, and dizziness.

Sometimes when you experience these symptoms, you most probably inhaled a fragrance you are allergic to or one that was too intense for your body to handle. If the latter is the case, step away from the fragrance source, and cool off. Fresh air and a painkiller might help subside these symptoms. If it continues, seek medical advice.

Here you must realize that the cause of your reaction may be sensitivity and not allergic reaction. In the case of nausea and stomach upsets, your body might be hypersensitive and not allergic, so be sure to understand the difference before concluding.

If I’m Allergic to One Perfume, Am I Allergic to All of Them?

itchy wrist after perfume spraying

After you know the exact causative element that causes your perfume allergy, you must avoid it at all costs.

And this evaluation can only be done by a specialist. You get tested by a dermatologist who gets to find out precisely what you are allergic to for skin allergies. After the evaluation, you are advised to stay clear of any perfume with that ingredient.

Now here is the kicker:

Just because a particular perfume caused an allergic reaction, it does not mean that all the rest are just as bad. They are safe to use as long as they do not have the allergen in their composition.

Suppose you get allergic reactions to different formulated perfumes with entirely different compositions. In that case, it is best to stay clear of all fragrances or consult a specialist to guide you to select the best options for you.

What Substances in Perfumes Often Cause Allergic Reactions?


This is an element used as a solvent in most cleaning products in the market and fragrant oils. Some perfumes may use it in small concentrations.

Limonene breaks down into small tiny sensitizers by oxidization when they get into contact with the air. When this happens, you get an annoying burning sensation that may or may not go away.


Linalool, a lavender oil component, is yet another skin irritant that may trigger a skin allergic reaction.

While in small concentrations, linalool is not problematic, although some people have a lower threshold to its reactivity. It causes skin rashes that could advance to something worse.


geraniol chemical structure

This component is found in geranium that can be reactive to the skin, just like linalool explained above.

It is a volatile fragrant substance that can potentially oxidize in air and cause some irritation to the skin in the process. If you notice a burning sensation while using a perfume with geranium, then you might be allergic to geraniol.


This substance is a natural insect repellant, but it could be an allergen to some people. Citronellol is found in the rose, geranium, lemongrass, lavender, chamomile, basil, among several more.

Citronellol is used for its floral scent, which can be pleasing, but it may cause perfume allergy in the form of rashes for people with sensitive skin. The issue arises when Citronellol is oxidized while on your skin surface, which causes some irritation to your skin.


Citral has a distinctive citrusy scent found in fragrances with lemon, lemongrass, lemon verbena, and lime. Citral has mostly been used on bouquet because of its scent as well as its microbial properties.

People with sensitive skin may experience adverse reactions to citral in the following ways: swollen lips and eyes, blisters, rashes, and itchy skin.

What to do When a Perfume Reacts to Your Skin

A perfume allergy could be as mild as a rash to something as severe as a painful blister or the lack of breathing correctly, all of which should be dealt with accordingly.

Here are some things you should do if you notice something weird about a fragrance you are using.

  • Observe the reaction to get definitive evidence.
  • Try avoiding the product and using another one.
  • If it persists, see a specialist and carry with you the products to get them tested.
  • After finding out the root allergen, look for items without the allergen compound.
  • Inform people around you about your allergy so that they can amend their habits while around you.

Take Away

In conclusion, it is better to be safe than sorry for any perfume allergy, mild or severe.

So much so, the next time you notice something weird, follow the above steps and get to the bottom of it.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *