Welcome to Basenotes! Fragrances are meant to project even the weak frags,so, I don't know how you can get away with it.???
Thread: Basenoter Worst Nightmare
The secretary at my work is actually allergic to most scents (including deodorants, shampoos, etc) and can get hospitalized if its bad enough. She can smell a perfume or cologne a mile away. Luckily I'm not often in the office, but when I am I have to be very mindful. How would you guys try to avoid getting cologne on your clothes? Currently it seems the cologne gets mostly on my undershirt and not my dress shirt. Was wondering if anyone had any other tricks
Welcome to Basenotes! Fragrances are meant to project even the weak frags,so, I don't know how you can get away with it.???
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Not trying to be a smart-a here but to avoid it getting on your clothes, don't spray it at all. Looks like for those office days you're scent free....or firing a secretary.
That is too bad though.
Last edited by ToughCool; 8th November 2012 at 02:01 PM.
"As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round."
Spray behind your ears, or directly under your chin. This will avoid all contact with clothing.
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Perfume lovers of the world UNITE!!!!!
So people can't use scented deodorants...soaps...ect? I'm sorry, but I feel like that's a rather unacceptable problem for a secretary to have, since she'll be dealing with so many people.
But if that's how it must be, I guess you better start setting aside shirts that will never touch a fragrance and switch them out when you need to go to work.
I think she should wear a head bubble bless her. You cannot avoid scents as a secretary with all sorts of people in and out. She's in the wrong sort of job for her condition. Poor thing.
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How does she get to work? Surely not on public transport?
I'm sorry for her but also for you that you need to be really careful.
Spray it on while you're still naked, let it dry and only then get dressed.
Are you asking how to wear cologne on those days, or how to avoid having cologne on your clothes when you come in otherwise unscented? And does she react to clothing that once had fragrance on it but has since been washed? I ask because I'm puzzled about the problem being the undershirt, which is easy to wash. I'd think that the problem would be more things like wool sweaters and jackets, things that you don't wash every time you wear them.
If it were me, I'd have at least one full set of completely washable clothes, including a sweater, and I'd store them where I never store clothes that have perfume on them. I'm not quite sure what I'd do about my coat - I wouldn't want to buy a whole separate fragrance-free coat, but maybe I could leave it in the car or in some controlled area in the office. There'd probably be a little fragrance contamination of my clothes, but maybe not too much.
As for how the secretary survives, I'm assuming that she does have to deal with occasional outsiders coming in wearing fragrance, and that therefore the regular employees need to minimize their fragrance use to minimize her exposure. I actually think that's a fairly reasonable demand.
Edited to add: If I worked in that office every day, then I would buy a coat for fragrance-free occasions. My livelihood is important, her livelihood is important, it's worth buying a coat to avoid endangering either one. My issue would be with buying a whole coat for a rare visit to the office; under those circumstances I'd try to find another solution.
1. Call ahead and have her leave the area when you are there.
2. Ask her to please take an antihistamine the days you are scheduled to be there (have her see an allergist). It is not fair for her to control everyone else's personal choices (that's why we have non-smoking laws).
3. Make sure she has an epi-pen on hand in case her reaction is severe. Tell her you will always be wearing cologne when you are there. Work with her to find a solution where she can protect herself and you can *be* yourself.
Perhaps you could find an all natural fragrance that doesn't bother her.
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If it isn't, then I have to disagree with this completely. This is not a situation where two personal choices are colliding; the o.p. indicated she has an objective medical condition that caused severe reactions to scents. Considering that he's only in the office rarely, it seems to me that it's a matter of decency not to wear cologne the days he knows he and she will be there. It's really a small matter for me not to wear cologne for a day or two, and if a coworker had this condition I think it's, at the very least, a question of courtesy.
I don't want my personal choice causing someone physical problems. And, personally, I don't need cologne to "*be* myself." I'm the same person whether wearing Green Irish Tweed or not.
One other thought: if she is actually that allergic, she is likely protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is more expansive than most people realize (assuming this occurred in the United States). If the o.p. has a management position, and refuses to accommodate her request, he'd better consult his company's attorney because he is setting them up for a possible lawsuit.
But again, if it was me, I just would avoid cologne on the few days I will be near her. No big deal for me.
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Yes - serious, not sarcastic. Just responding to what seemed to be real sadness and frustration on the part of the poster. And since, as he said, he is not there that much, it seems a small matter to ask her to go to a different room when he's there. Of course, he could choose not to wear the fragrance, as you said. But it seemed he did not want to do that. If she moved out of the area when he was there, it would be consideration on both parts, don't you think?
If the job required no fragrance in the workplace (as some do) then he would have to comply. But, if not ... I don't know that this would be considered a disability. In my workplace, I actually saved the life of a co-worker once, who was having a huge allergy attack because of something that was never discovered. I got her a Benedryl immediately and when the paramedics arrived they said had she not taken it when she did, she might have died.
But, she came right back to work and this workplace did nothing to accommodate her. Her attack could have been from flowers, or chemicals, or something just in the air. Perhaps it was even to a perfume some customer was wearing! No accommodations have been made for her and it is her responsibility to medicate herself in the way her doctor recommends, or to find another job.
Can somebody really get hospitalized by being near somebody that is wearing fragrance? I've known people to get migraines if they are sensitive, but not anaphylactic shock! So I will assume it is okay to wear as long as she is not rubbing her body on you. Call me pessimistic, but she might just be saying she is allergic because she finds strong fragrance offensive. When I was a waitor I heard all sorts of people say they were allergic to things when they just didn't like it and wanted to make sure it wasn't on their plate. I've overheard plenty of people admit they weren't really allergic; the best was someone saying they were allergic to pesto. I asked what in pesto they were allergic to and they didn't answer.
It does happen. If that were the case though, I'd be avoiding any job that involves interfacing with the public. I assume the secretary can handle SOME exposure or she would be unable to function at all in society. Still, some people drench themselves in so much strong-smelling perfume/cologne that you can smell them from several feet away (I really only notice this when it's something that irritates me- I think the record was Axe body spray that could be smelt from ACROSS THE STREET.)
Since youre not there that often I would agree that you should just refrain from wearing any fragrance that day, nobody want a lawsuit right? However it sounds like she is exaggerating the effects that other peoples fragrance can have on her. Im working on a masters degree in molecular toxicology and have taken several classes in immunology and similar topics and with all the IFRA regulations on what goes into a scent I highly doubt she could be hospitalized from someone else wearing a perfume. Almost always an allergic reaction requires direct contact with the allergen via skin contact, injection, or ingestion, and the amount of fragrance that diffuses off your body while you are in the office would be to minuscule to trigger anything. Maybe if you went and sprayed her in the face with a frag she could have a reaction, but it just doesnt make any sense that she could be hospitalized from you wearing one yourself. And does that also mean you cant wear deodorant or use soap in the shower before you come to work? Does she have documentation of this severe allergy problem from a doctor? Im not calling her a liar, and in biology there are always special cases which circumvent general knowledge, but this just sounds a little extreme to me.
PS an all natural fragrance would be more likely to cause a reaction than a synthetic one since someone suggested that above.
Last edited by FullCollapse; 8th November 2012 at 04:00 PM.
That is hypersensitive. She should be in a bubble lol. I think its great you are mindful but then again, you have to be yourself. Its okay to groom in a way that satisfies you but on those days, a comprise by toning it down a notch is all anyone could ask for. In a healthcare setting, I'm not supposed to wear anything scented as it may upset sick patients. Do I? Of course; I'm a member of basenotes damn it lol. However, to work I usually wear something low key and inoffensive which in my opinion makes anything in my wardrobe fair game
Is the juice worth the squeeze?
I knew a girl that claimed that she was deathly allergic to all scents including shampoos, soaps etc. So many people would walk on eggshells for her. I asked her if she wore a gas mask to the store or something because that seemed like an extremely dangerous place for her...she said no. She was in my church and she asked the religious leader to ask people to not wear fragrances of any kind or she could be hospitalized. He complied and thus everyone in church was banned from all fragrances. I didn't believe her but I still tried to help out. So, one day I was in the store and she was in the personal hygiene section looking for non scented everything. I asked her if it bothered her to be in that section because of all of the fragrances wafting in the air. She said no and that she just tries to by unscented stuff. Later, I hadn't seen her in church for a while so I banked that she wouldn't be there and so I wore a spritz of frag and went to church. She was there so I half heartedly tried to keep my distance. I also secretly hoped she would come up to me to see if anything happened. She actually saw me, came over and gave me a hug. I then just observed and absolutely nothing happened. From that moment on I would wear frags any time I went to church or knew that she would be around and nothing ever even came close to happening. So, I guess I'm kind o a jerk because I didn't believe her and decided to test my theory, but she just loved getting attention and saying that she was severely allergic to fragrances was her way of getting constant attention.
I personally have never met anyone that has had a severe reaction from fragrances. I have a coworker where it is just he and I in our office and he is allergic to about 98% of all allergens. I wear fragrances every day and he has never had a reaction. I think that a lot of people that claim to have severe allergies to fragrances either are hypochondriacs, have been told they are allergic to them and thus never tested to see if they really were, really want attention, or are just uneducated. I have worn fragrances since I was 15. I even taught school for 10 years wearing fragrances every day and never did any of my students have a reaction, and still to this day I have never met anyone that has had a severe allergic reaction to frags. I've never even seen anyone have even a slight allergic reaction to frags. Oh, I mean smelling them, not touching the actual juice, that's another story, I have seen reactions to that, still not severe though.
I'm not saying that it couldn't happen, I'm just saying that I have never seen it in my 20 years of wearing frags in all walks of life...and if you think about it, those people that claim they have severe allergic reactions to fragrances should be wearing a gas mask at all times because it is impossible to distance yourself from all fragrances, you could never leave your house and you could never interact with anyone because they might, after all, have washed their hands with some soap that contained some sort of fragrance.
Agree that she should be in a different environment.
Wait, maybe I'm missing something, but it sounds like you already don't wear fragrance on days when you're in the office.
So...just wear freshly washed clothes on days when you're in the office, and continue not wearing fragrance on those days.
Right? Am I underthinking this?
"It's not what you look like when you're doing what you're doing; it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing."
Wouldn't it make sense that if you wore something oil-based, it would stay close to the body and not in the air?
“The unnatural and the strange have a perfume of their own”
― Fernando Pessoa
Spend some time and money in the essential oil/aromatherapy world. You may not have as much luck constructing a layered frag to compete with the commercials, but essential oils can be exquisite, they do have therapeutic effects and I have never seen anyone with an allergic reaction to any of them except chamomile (which is damn expensive anyway).
It's a different experience. I worked as a naturopath for more than 10 years before I moved to Europe, and aromatherapy was part of my studies. I love my frags, but the oils are well worth looking into.
I love fragrances as much as everyone else here, but there comes a point where you need to take a step back and ask yourself "Do I have a problem? Am I literally ADDICTED?" I dated a woman who was allergic. I stopped wearing fragrances while we were together. Anybody who would choose frags over a woman, or in this case, a job... that person has a problem.
There's nothing wrong with not wearing fragrance. In fact, by giving your nose a break, you actually increase your ability to enjoy scents when you wear them.
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Last edited by L'Homme Blanc Individuel; 8th November 2012 at 09:21 PM.
"Follow your nose. It always knows." -- Toucan Sam
you can allways buy a perfume that is called NOT A PERFUME from JULITTE HAS A GUN house....its pure ambroxan this is alergenfree stuff
Not easy situation at all. It's after all her problem but imo rawraw does the right thing as he don't want to make any more harm to her than necessary. In my country there is no such law that would protect the one who suffers allergic reactions, at least I'm not aware of. I believe that common sense and co-operation of the colleagues in most cases work.
I think it would be a good idea and polite not to spray fragrance onto clothes in this case (as rawraw suggests.) How one's skin smells, is IMO everyones own business and can't be limited. It's Ok imo to choose some skin scent type of fragrance.
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Buy her one of these and tell her to wear it whenever you're coming to work...
Allergic to the scents in shampoo, so what, you don't wash your hair prior to work either?!
I know of a very good employment consultant who can help you get rid of her, then you can go and find one who appreciates your fragrances in a naughty way
Size 8 long legs blonde hair receptionist required. lol
Agree with heperd.
Get rid of her. Let her go pull the princess act somewhere else.
If she really has such a terrible problem with any and all fragrances, she needs to make that her problem to deal with, not everyone else's.
If she really is allergic, as she claims, then she can't go on public transport, can't go to the mall, movies, shopping, anywhere.....because there will be people wearing fragrances.
IMO it is bullshit. She doesn't like fragrances and therefore doesn't want anyone else to wear them.
If it were real, she would be the Bubble Girl. Seriously.
Just wear a little bit each day, increasing the amount and respray gradually, slowly, and linearly. Don't tell her.
When you could eventually wear 5 sprays of kouros and she is still alright, you had cured her ailment.
It's all in her head. This is clearly a hypochondriac being an attention whore. Paying any attention to this kind of nonsense is only feeding the sickness.
Regardless of whether she's telling the truth or bs'ing, I wouldn't wear fragrance around her. Just don't want to deal with the drama. At best, she dislikes fragrances and would cause a fuss if she smelt it. At worst, she'd end up being hospitalized. Either way, it's reason enough for me to just not wear fragrances around her.
Honestly, when I first saw the thread title, I thought it was something worse. Like a burglar stole the OP's entire fragrance collection or a fire destroyed it. Thank god it's not that bad.
A few years ago I was exposed to strong levels of cigarette smoke for several hours. Starting the next day, I had cold symptoms so bad that I was out of work for several days - and I pretty much never take off work for a cold; the only infection that's ever knocked me down to a similar degree turned out to be pneumonia.
For several months afterward, I had serious problems tolerating almost any breathing irritant - exhaust fumes, smoke of all types, paint fumes, cleaners, and, yes, perfume. These irritants didn't cause me to go into anaphylactic shock, no. They weren't a threat to my survival, but even a moderate exposure would give me a miserable headache and very painful sinuses for hours afterward, bad enough to make it very difficult to do anything.
With some care, I was able to reduce exposure from "moderate" to "minimal". I avoided the headaches. I wasn't miserable all the time. If I had had a coworker who insisted on his right to wear perfume at work, in my vicnity, so that I was miserable all the time, I would have been very seriously annoyed.
I got over it. I can wear perfume now. Yay! But I never, ever wear it on a day when I expect to visit, or be in a meeting with, a specific allergic coworker.
Work is work; it's not a place where we're entitled to express ourselves without limit. If someone is so scent-sensitive that they can't handle an occasional unexpected scented visitor to the office without risking death, then their employement opportunities might be limited as a result. But in my view, it's not the least bit unreasonable to insist that their coworkers refrain from spraying on perfume before they leave for work, or even that they avoid wearing clothing that hasn't been washed since it was in contact with perfume. That may be what it takes to reduce exposure to the point that their coworker can, well, _work_.
I'm not aiming this at the original poster - it sounded to me like he was trying to be as helpful as he could, short of giving up perfume in his private life.
Last edited by ChickenFreak; 9th November 2012 at 06:02 AM.
I frankly find it pretty disturbing that people are assuming that the secretary is lying (she may be, she may not be. She may not be allergic to MOST perfumes/colognes but one or two could in fact hospitalize her and she may not know which specific ones that is. Or she may truly be very allergic to all of them. But really, who are we to assume that she's lying?)
I also can't believe several people have suggested firing her. I really, truly hope that was a joke, because there are so many problems with that idea I don't know where to begin.
I have a particular coworker who wears gobs of some sort of fragrance. She works in a closed room in close proximity to a coworker who is sensitive to her particular sort of fragrance (I don't know what it is.) She claims to have "toned it down" and she STILL has a 5-foot "stink radius". I'm sensitive to certain fragrances and it happens to be one that sets me off, too. She's been asked several times not to wear so much perfume and she gets quite belligerent about it. Apparently she's even been taken to HR over the issue on at least one occasion. It's really, incredibly rude. (I should add that this closed room she works in is a climate-controlled "clean room" (not sterile) type environment. Any scent that gets in there will be trapped and amplified throughout the day. Not a whole lot of ventilation in there.)
And ChickenFreak (love that name by the way...I used to have pet chickens and they are SOO CUTE!!!!!) I have the same issue with cigarette smoke. I actually had to leave my mother's house earlier than I would have liked last time I visited because I had such awful post-nasal drip that I was about to vomit. Not to mention my nose and throat were getting more raw by the minute. Not. Fun.
To those who think it's all BS, it's not. I suffered from MCS for years and it's fucking painful. Was it a threat to my survival? Not directly. It sure as hell caused a lot of problems in every area of my life though. This coming from someone who loves perfume.
I was a fool and suffered through it and kept wearing perfume. Some days were worse than others. Some days I could enjoy it. There was always at least some pain accompanying any pleasure, though. But please, please, stop thinking it's fake or made up. In many cases it may be someone being sensational and a hypochondriac, but in other cases it's real.
I could, for instance detect the presence of certain chemicals at an extremely small threshold. A tiny dab of something on a piece of paper, 30 feet away and in a different room, I could smell clearly. I had people test me to prove myself. Without fail I could tell when the scent was actually exposed, or when they were lying and said it was. Certain air fresheners became sickeningly overpowering. It was grueling.
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The headline of this post sucked us in. I love how the pharmacy employees, the toxicologist, and the healthcare workers on basenotes are all generally apathetic to said secretary's claim, but that there are still a few BNers out there willing to indulge her. I would just go light on the pump, do the skin scent where it takes a hug to appreciate your fine fragrance taste on those days, and not worry too much. If she has an allergy she will have pills and/or an epi pen depending on the severity. A Benadryl works great for sudden allergies, if not seasonal.
There are inhalers for respiratory issues as well.
I work in a pharmacy in a hospital btw.
Last edited by Nosebud; 9th November 2012 at 09:29 AM.
Thanks for some of great advice, I'll be putting that to use.
I didn't realize this thread would get so intense lol. No, this lady is very sweet. I tell her she wouldn't survive as a cave man. I've never asked specifically what things she has been hospitalized from (she is also very allergic to types of foods). But to give you some example of her sensitivity, she sits removed from the rest of the office in her own room. If someone got cologne on their clothes over the weekend, she can still smell it across a 3,000 sqft office area and gives here extreme irritation (headache, etc). So smells may not be among the things that she has been hospitalized from, but she is extremely sensitive.
As I noted, I'm rarely in the office. I was more looking for tips on how to apply cologne so it doesn't get on my clothes. I'd hate to wear a shirt, forgetting I hadn't dry cleaned it, and cause her problems. She really doesn't do it for attention or in a way anyone when working in the office thinks twice about trying to accommodate her. I'm just trying to minimize the chance of exposing her to chemicals!
@SculptureOfSoul, you describe exactly what she has.
So as not to come off as completely insensitive, here is a post in response to a question on webmd. The OP uses steroid inhaler, epi pen, and respirator in public. Maybe your coworker could look into allergy shots.
7 months agoAqua14
*responded:You may want to talk to your allergist about beginning allergy shots (assuming your asthma is allergic, since you take antihistamines). I, too, used to normally react to perfumes and strong fragrances (not as badly as you do, though), but since I've been on allergy shots for 5-plus years I can now even comfortably wear some perfumes. It's really amazing to me the difference that allergy shots have made for me.
Here's what I understand as to how this works. By markedly reducing allergic sensitivity, your respiratory system isn't constantly inflamed by reacting to allergens, which makes you more sensitive to irritants like dust, smoke, perfumes. Thus, once allergy shots take effect, fragrances that used to irritate your respiratory system are no longer as irritating and your lungs can now "ignore" the fragrances.
Another potential solution which I have not tried but is worth discussing with your allergist is Xolair. Some on the board have had good success with that.
Hopefully Sonya and some others who suffer greatly from this will also offer other suggestions to you.
Hope these thoughts help in the meantime. Take care & good luck. Judy
How does she get through life? Trips to the grocery, errands elsewhere? This woman seems most unfortunate. And then, how are the other employees supposed to accommodate her allergies/sensitivities to shampoo of all things?