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Perfumes are the Devil

I remember as a little girl staying the night with my Nana on Friday just so I could be there Saturday morning when the AVON lady came ringing the door bell. I loved to see the new little items she would pull out of her luggage that she carried from door to door. I was in awe of the different shapes and colored perfume bottles lined up on the counter as she told of the fragrance and then came the spritz of this and that. It would be seconds after that my eyes would begin to ache then came the nausea. I was ready to go home. Mom seemed to think it was from the “junk food” I ate the night before but little did we know it was a trigger from the AVON lady!

I am now 45 and perfume is still my enemy except now my speech gets slurred, vision is impaired, my face and hands go numb. It’s as if I’m having a stroke. I have had to stop attending church due to all the new and different scents. I don’t understand why people have to bathe in fragrance at any given time but on Sunday’s, after Christmas, Valentines Day and Mother’s Day it is the worst. On top of that I work in a public school system and the scents that pass by me on a daily basis is literally mind blowing.

Just a little over five years ago I had to leave work due to a triggered migraine and have not been able to get rid of it since. For 5 years I have been on level 5-10 pain scale and have learned to deal. I have been to Minnesota to the Mayo Clinic to be told it is genetic. I have traveled 5 hours one way to have lidocaine injected through my sinus cavity to nerve endings (which worked wonders but had to stop because they wanted me there 3X’s a week) I have taken so many different medications, botox, nerve blocks and now I’m looking at surgery. My sight, hearing, smell, and taste are on sensor overload. I am miserable. My family is miserable. I have missed so many activities with my children and grandchild. Even being outside if a scent is to strong I have to run away from everyone. I have become a hermit and is it sad to say I don’t mind it?

I continue to work because I refuse to quit and let this beat me. There are many days I sit in my office with lights out and door shut but I’m at work pushing myself into exhaustion and being more frustrated with this illness. It has taken me several years to accept this one migraine as an illness and not just another “episode”. It will take several more to realize I need to give in.

Probably one of my kids favorite memory of me and perfume is when we were walking through a department store and a lady was spritzing a new perfume on people as they passed. She approached me and I asked her to please not spray me. She did. I took the bottle from her hand and sprayed her down then threw the bottle in the trash next to her. My kids stood there in shock and couldn’t wait to tell their dad what their mother had done. So to me perfumes are from the devil himself!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • onehsancare
    3 years ago

    Perfumes will always trigger a migraine for me. ALWAYS. If I am not in my own home or office, I am probably wearing a mask. I cannot imagine walking through a department store, let alone the PERFUME DEPARTMENT without a mask!! Please, try one–you will be amazed at how much they filter out! I use a Respro Techno mask (which makes me look a little like Darth Vader, but it’s worth it!) See
    I can even fly on airplanes without getting migraines!

    Of course, nothing can be done for the situation at work where I am struck with a migraine, report to my supervisor as the policy requires, only to have the perfume-wearer’s supervisor come tell me in a few minutes “She says she isn’t wearing anything and I couldn’t smell anything.” So now I’m imagining my migraine, I guess.

  • Luna
    4 years ago

    “to me perfumes are from the devil himself!”
    I’m with you on that and with your reaction to the store employee.

  • shelleydf73
    4 years ago

    That is so rude of people to just spray you as you walk by! Kuddos to you for calling about it. I can only use perfume on the back of my neck and holding the bottle far away as I spray, not anywhere on the front of me. Sensory overload, whether it’s stress, light, sound, or smells will trigger mine. And I dare not walk into Lush, Bath and Body Works, etc. without leaving with at least the beginning of headache.

  • 1headcase
    4 years ago

    You poor thing- I sooooo feel your pain. I had a similar story to yours: about 10 years ago, I already had a migraine, was leaving the mall by way of Nordstroms and got “spritzed” after I said “no thank you” looked at her whimpered “Why?” then shoved past her to vomit into the trashcan next to her display- one of those round-topped type with the flap on the front- not really any way to do that neatly- glared at her and walked away. When I got home later and felt better I called and complained to the store manager- don’t know what happened after that & don’t care but he seemed to have heard about the incident already.
    Long story short: Good for you!!

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    4 years ago

    I’m not usually as sensitive as you are to smells, but every once in a while a scent will trigger me. Actually there is some renovation work going on in my apartment and yesterday I had to stay at someone else’s house because the fumes were overwhelming.

    And scent triggers are hard to manage because you never know when someone is going to walk past bathed in cologne. I have had a few people tell me that they will put an essential oil or Tiger Balm on their nose to use as a buffer from another scent getting to you. But that means finding a scent that you can handle.

    Kerrie wrote this article about holiday scents that I thought you might enjoy:

    Best Wishes,
    Katie Moderator

  • Jenn Lebowitz
    4 years ago

    Hi kknight!

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us – and so sorry to hear everything you’ve been going through.

    I thought this article might be useful: as well as this one:

    You are certainly not alone here, and as you know, we welcome your posts ANY time! We are here for you!


    Jenn (Community Manager,

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