How do you tell a coworker that their perfume is bothering you?

I was diagnosed with Vestibular Migraine in October. Recently my coworker is wearing very heavy scented perfume/lotion. This is giving me incredible headaches which force me to leave work early and puts me in bed for a few days. What is the least confrontational way to ask her to not wear it?

That is a really tricky one. Do you know if the place where you work has a policy about heavy perfume? I worked for the NHS and we were not allowed to wear perfume at all in case it upset patients. You can find out by asking your HR Department and then if they say perfume is not allowed you can tell your colleague “in case she gets into trouble”. Failing that perhaps you could explain it to her honestly or, if it makes you more comfortable, tell your manager so that she/he understands why you are away from work so often. Good luck!

I would suggest talking to your coworker directly. Tell her that she has chosen a great scent but unfortunately you are very sensitive and it bothers your “allergies” which leads to a bad headache and missed work. Another time you can explain the whole MAV/MIgraine continuum thing. Just keep it simple. If she comes the next day without the perfume, be ready with a small token of your appreciation and a nice note of thanks. Maybe a Granola Bar or piece of fruit or a $5 gift card for Starbucks - whatever you feel is appropriate. I hope she responds well since you do not want to go behind her back. Good luck. Even people without MAV issues are bothered by strong perfume or aftershave. (

1 Like

That’s excellent advice spinning girl