Our society has become increasingly concerned with all issues concerning looks and general health. Having an allergy can be a significant handicap in this department. As a part of making a first impression, and we do know that there is more than a little truth to the saying that first impressions last, as much as looks, it is important to give off a fresh, healthy and hygienic impression.
Those lucky people that do not suffer from an allergy, seldom reflect on the importance of all the fragrances and scents we use to disguise our natural body odours with. But if you do have an allergy related to the chemicals used in all kinds of perfume fragrances and washing detergents, then you are probably acutely aware of this.
Let us do an experiment for the allergy free: Strip away all the perfumes and deodorants from your bathroom cabinet (we only leave you with the option of using an odourless antiperspirant) and your clothes may only be laundered with a perfume free washing powder. Naturally, you are not able to use any softening liquids as they are filled to the brim with chemically enhanced scents.
We will not put any restrictions on how often or how long you shower, nor will we put any limits as to how often you wash your clothes. This is the everyday trials and tribulations of the person suffering from an allergy related to the chemicals used in detergents and deodorants. We strongly associate the feeling of freshness with the added smells of the products we use during, and after, any form of washing activity.
That is why having an allergy towards fragrances goes beyond just having your skin break out in uncomfortable and itching rashes. It becomes a question of that all important first impression, since we are so used to the smell of a deodorant, or clothes still carrying that soft smell of perfumed freshness, we take them for granted.
So it is only in the meeting with a person suffering from an allergy towards perfume or other types of fragrances that we realize that something is missing. And even if that person is able to use antiperspirants, and is not smelling of anything really other than his or her natural body odour, we associate the absence of chemically enhanced fragrances as a sign of someone not taking care of their personal hygiene.
This is both judgmental and wrong, and for the person with an allergy this can evolve into becoming a seriously inhibiting factor concerning everyday routines and other social situations.
It is always healthy to try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, so try this experiment and we are confident that you will come away with a better understanding and a deeper knowledge of just what having an allergy towards fragrances can mean for a human being.
It is not about a question of being unhygienic. Those of us who have the good fortune of not suffering from an allergy need to realize that our perception of hygiene has been slightly twisted due to the availability of perfumes and fragrances.
Monik Stevenson is currently working for one of the leading companies in Denmark (Neutral) for perfume allergy or in Danish parfume allergi.