Fragrance, Asthma, and Indoor Air Quality:


Do you have asthma, and have you experienced sneezing, wheezing, or itchy watery eyes when exposed to perfume or room deodorizers? Fragrance sensitivity may be impacting your asthma. When there are a lot of fragrances in an environment, even people without asthma may experience these types of symptoms.  

As we spend more time at home, it is very important to protect our lungs by doing our best to reduce exposure to allergens and irritants. One way to improve your home’s air quality is to use fragrance-free products. From lotions, hand soaps, laundry detergent, and skincare products, there are healthier options. This article provides the information needed to promote cleaner air in the home. There are also products to avoid altogether, such as air aerosol fresheners—especially for individuals with asthma or other respiratory medical conditions.

Why Fragrances Might Be Problematic

Many of us connect our favorite scents with fond memories. The smell of Cherry blossoms in spring, the smell of your sweetheart’s favorite cologne, or even the smell of Pine-Sol may remind us of people and places that are dear to us. However, fragrance can be problematic for people with asthma, as many are either allergic or sensitive to fragrance. Fragrance sensitivity is the development of allergy-like symptoms with exposure to a certain fragrance(s). It is not a true allergic reaction but an irritation.  


Different people will react in different ways, but fragrances can certainly lead to asthma-like symptoms such as:

  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Fragrances can also lead to symptoms such as:

  • Skin irritation
  • Eye irritation
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Abnormal gait
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Chest pain



What You Can Do

Avoidance is generally the best treatment. Avoiding fragrances in the following products may help prevent symptoms:

  • Fabric softeners
  • Home deodorizers
  • Laundry detergent
  • Lotion and other skincare products
  • Scented candles
  • Perfume or cologne
  • Soaps

When buying any cleaners, laundry detergent, lotions, and soaps, look for “Fragrance-Free” on the label. 

Air fresheners and scented candles may smell pleasant to some, but they reduce the air quality in your home. Avoidance of fragrances, in general, supports lung health. By removing fragrances from your home environment, you can improve your air quality and stay safe at home.


Article Source: Fragrance Sensitivity: Making Sense of Scents by Pat Bass, MD