three women react strongly to scented candles

Why Is This Scented?!

When I buy shampoos, lotions, soaps, and detergents, I normally go for unscented or sometimes a more "natural" scent from essential oils. One of my partner's asthma triggers is fragrance. Products like scented lotions and shampoos normally don't bother him much, but strong perfumes and candles can cause his asthma to flare-up.

I avoid strong fragrances for his sake, but also for myself. I realized this year that I have a surprisingly strong sense of smell, and artificial fragrances cause me to get a headache. Also, products that contain artificial fragrances like laundry detergent can irritate my skin. In the past few months, I've noticed a few things that caught me off guard because they unexpectedly scented. I decide to make a list and share it.

Surprise! This product is scented

  • Vacuum filters

I put this one first since I found a vacuum filter to be the strangest thing to be scented. I moved into a house at the beginning of the year with one roommate who was already living there, and he already had a vacuum. When I first used it, and it smelled like Febreeze while I vacuumed! When I asked my roommate about it, he said for some reason the vacuum filters he purchased were scented.

  • My new (used) car

I started 2021 out by purchasing a used Prius V. I was very excited and pleased with the price, features, and MPG I would be getting, but there was one small thing I was not very pleased with. The off-putting fragrance inside! It smelled like someone had just doused the car interior with some type of artificial cherry and strawberry spray. My partner came along for the test drive, and we drove with the windows down (I was nervous that this fragrance cloud would trigger him). I tried my best to drive around with the windows down post-purchase, and it took an entire week to dissipate.

  • Toilet paper

I understand that people like good-smelling things in their bathrooms, but does the toilet paper need to be scented? I was very thrown off recently when I went to blow my nose and the toilet paper I was using had a fake floral scent.

  • Bath salts

Okay, I understand this one, but that doesn't mean scented bath salts don't bother me. My roommate loves taking baths frequently and has about seven different bags of bath salts... all of which are scented with what the label calls "parfum." The entire house becomes inhospitable (in my opinion). I either have to leave the house, or open all the doors and windows (not very convenient in winter) and hide out in my room.

  • Thrift store clothes

I absolutely love going thrifting, and most of my clothes at this point are from thrift stores or are second-hand. However, most of the time the clothes I bring home have a very strong artificial scent that I do not like. It smells like a strong laundry detergent. I am now aware that it can be a skin irritant or cause of a migraine for myself, and a potential trigger for my partner. As soon as I get home, I throw the clothes in the wash. Normally, the first wash won't get rid of the scent completely. After washing and drying, I'll hang the clothing and let it air out for a few days.

Is there a solution?

Certain things are out of your control. Sometimes you will come face to face with fragrance and scents that you were not prepared for. I could not have predicted how the inside of my car would smell, nor would I have guessed that my roommate's vacuum filter had a fragrance. If you have asthma and fragrance is a trigger for you, then you can be prepared by keeping your inhaler and other asthma medications on hand. Have an exit plan if you're at a friend's house or a certain situation where a triggering fragrance may be present.

More on this topic

Is your asthma triggered by scented products? Which products are the worst culprits? Share in the comments below!

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