Why Does Perfume Give Me A Headache?

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Perfume is a fragrant liquid made of essential oils and aroma compounds that is typically used to enhance the scent of the wearer. It is often used to make a person feel more attractive and boost their confidence. Unfortunately, for some, wearing perfume can also cause them to experience headaches. Possible causes of headaches from perfume can range from being sensitive to the scent, to an allergic reaction, to the chemical compounds in the perfume, and more. In this article, we will explore why perfume can give some people a headache and what can be done to prevent it.




Various allergens that can be found in perfume 

Allergens in perfume can cause headaches in individuals who are sensitive or allergic to them. Common allergens in perfume include preservatives, fragrances, dyes, and other chemicals. Fragrances are the most common allergen and cause the most severe reactions in people. These fragrances include synthetic chemicals such as benzyl alcohol, limonene, and linalool, as well as natural oils such as sandalwood, pine, and cedar. Preservatives such as parabens, propylene glycol, and phenoxyethanol are also common allergens and can cause headaches. Dyes, such as FD&C Yellow No. 5, are also known to cause headaches in some people. 

How allergies affect the body

Apart from headaches, the allergies may present themselves as skin reactions such as rashes, hives, and itching; respiratory reactions such as sneezing, coughing, and wheezing; and eye reactions such as redness, burning, and irritation. In some cases, these reactions can be life-threatening. The best way to avoid an allergic reaction to perfumes is to avoid wearing them. Also, look for perfumes that are labeled as “hypoallergenic” or “allergy tested,” as these are less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

Synthetic Fragrances 

Synthetic fragrances are artificial scents created in a laboratory. They are used to give various products, such as air fresheners, body lotions, shampoos, and perfumes, an appealing scent. These fragrances are made up of a variety of chemicals, including phthalates, which have been linked to health concerns.

How synthetic fragrances can cause headaches

Synthetic fragrances can cause headaches due to the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in them. VOCs are chemicals that evaporate into the air and can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. People who are sensitive to VOCs may experience headaches and other symptoms when exposed to synthetic fragrances. Exposure to high levels of VOCs can also cause nausea, dizziness, and even difficulty breathing. 

Fragrance Concentration 

Fragrance concentration can affect the intensity of a scent, which can cause headaches in some people. When a scent is too strong, it can cause an immediate headache, or it can cause a headache after prolonged exposure. This is because strong fragrances can irritate the mucous membranes in the nose and throat, which can, in turn, cause the release of certain chemicals in the brain that are associated with headaches. 

Prevention and Treatment 


  1. Avoid using perfumes or colognes that contain strong scents.
  2. Keep the area well ventilated when using perfumes.
  3. Don’t spray or apply the perfume directly to your skin. 
  4. Don’t stay in an area with strong perfume smells for too long.


  1. Move to a well-ventilated area or go outside to get some fresh air.
  2. If the headache persists, take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  3. Apply a cold compress or take a cool shower to help ease the headache.
  4. Use a nasal spray to help open up your nasal passage and ease the headache.
  5. Drink plenty of water to help flush out any toxins from the perfume.


In conclusion, perfume can give people headaches due to its strong scents, which can cause olfactory fatigue and headaches. To avoid headaches, people should be mindful of their perfume use, wear light scents, and keep hydrated. Additionally, people should avoid exposing themselves to strong perfumes that could cause a headache.

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