Perfume Sensitivity Can Be Challenging for Migraine Sufferers

Sep 21, 2016, by Dr. Becky Coats

Smells are among the most common migraine triggers, affecting about 70% of sufferers. For migraineurs with smell sensitivity, more than three-quarters are sensitive to perfume. This can be a daily challenge if your workplace has people who regularly wear perfume. And it can be even harder if you’re someone who loves scents and wants to find one you can wear.

Scents in the Workplace

Many people wear perfume with reckless disregard for others. For most of us, this is nothing more than a minor irritation (including potentially the nostrils and/or eyes). But for migraineurs this can be serious. When you’re exposed to migraine-inducing perfume on a regular basis, it can trigger disabling headaches that can cause you to miss work, and missing too much work can affect your ability to get promoted or even maintain your job.

Fortunately, if the source of perfume is someone in your office, you may have options. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can cover migraines, if they interfere with your ability to work, but can be lessened with “reasonable accommodations.” Reasonable accommodations means minor policy changes or equipment that can make a big difference in your ability to do your job.
Perfume can trigger migraines
One such minor change you can request at your workplace is a “no perfume” policy. Get documentation from your doctor. Talk to your employer about your request. Make your request in writing. Hopefully, your employer will decide this is a reasonable request on your part.

If your employer doesn’t comply, however, you may need to take further action. A lawsuit can be used to compel your employer to make this policy change, and you can be protected against retaliation for your action. In the past, courts have supported this kind of accommodation. Of course, you should consult a lawyer about the exact circumstances in your case before taking irreparable action.

But What If You Love Scents?

Writing in Allure, Lindsey Tramuta talked about an entirely different level of challenge for migraineurs who are sensitive to perfume. She developed a love of perfumes before she developed her migraines, so when her attacks started, she was heartbroken. As her favorite scents triggered her migraines, she had to give them up. But she didn’t want to give up on scents altogether.

At first, she thought that the attacks might be related to ingredients in American perfumes, and when she moved to France, she had hopes that more natural ingredients and subtler odors might be less likely to trigger her headaches. She tried many of the classic French perfumes, but although some worked for her for a while, sooner or later they all caused migraines.

She found she couldn’t even shop for perfumes at most places–the mixture of odors was likely to contain something that didn’t agree with her.

Then she discovered a small boutique perfume maker, L’Artisan Parfumeur, where there were several fragrances she found she could not only enjoy, but wear without triggering her migraines

Although we don’t know if this scent will later become a migraine trigger, we do know that for now she’s happy with what she’s found. And it’s an encouraging fact for other migraineurs who want to wear perfume despite their sensitivity.

Helping to Reduce Migraines

Migraines are complex headaches, and they can be influenced by many factors simultaneously. TMJ treatment can help many people reduce their risk of migraines. With fewer migraines, you’ll have more bility to enjoy your life and be productive.

If you are looking for a TMJ dentist in the Dallas area, please call (817) 481-6888 today for an appointment at the BITE center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, and Reconstructive Dentistry in Grapevine.