Perfume nightmare

So this week a new girl started on our team. She’s VERY nice and a great girl BUT the day she arrived she had on tons of this God-awful perfume. It made me feel sick as she sits so close to me. Banging headache etc. Later that day I asked her if she could not use the perfume because I am so sensitive to smells. She was great about it.

The next day she was wearing nothing and I breathed a sigh of relief. Then on Wed the smell was back and again later in the day I had to bring the topic up again in the nicest possible way. Turns out she was applying this crappy stinky hand cream to herself every time she left the bathroom. I thought that was the end of it but today, another smell that was irritating the hell out of me. She started using some body wash in the morning that absoluteluy stinks as far as I’m concerned but it’s a smell that lingers ALL DAY.

I have to tell you guys that it really stresses me out. It’s like I can feel these perfumes going straight to my head and I know I’m in for a nightmare.

So do I speak to her yet again – 3rd time in one week? I feel like a real jerk but what can I do? I want to breathe clean air and what’s more my health depends on it. As I sit here now I have the most ferocious headache.

I’m also sitting under fluorescent lights again. Who knows how much this is adding to the problem. Dammit I hate being a migraineur. It’s really holding me back on this job battling this crap all the time.

Have you guys faced a similar situation? I could asked to be moved I guess but I really like my spot as I face a window looking out over the city and I don’t want to alienate the new girl.

Scott :?

Hi Scott, I love the bit where you say “the next day she was wearing nothing and I breathed a sigh of relief” :shock:

I cant go near anything that smells of strong perfume, I feel ill in minutes. I have this same problem with my 21 year old daughter. She loves nothing better than sweet smelling, cheap perfumes, hairsprays (she has her hair stood on end and sprays it to stay like that). I mentioned the perfume loads of times, then this sweet horrible smell is left as I walk down the stairs and it turns out it is just soap. What can you do? You cant tell someone to change their soap.

Well you could pretend to start sneezing like mad every time she is near, say you are allergic to strong smells, that would keep her aware, every time she wore something strong and smelly.

Seeing as you have already mentioned to her that you cant tolerate the other smells, I cant see one more time can to any harm.
Say you get migraine with any strong smell, be it handcream, body lotion etc. you feel really bad asking her not to wear anything strong smelling but you suffer all day with it if she does. If she takes no notice, I cant see you have much choice, you like your spot, ask her to move! Can you open that window and let some air in, might make a difference as well.


Hi Scott

This is a real difficult one.

I totally sympathise as strong smells can really aggravate my dizziness. I forgot to include them on the Top 3 Triggers thread. Paint fumes, cleaning fluids, polish, and Opium and Obsession for Men. These are absolute stinking headache causers too.

However, I had an ironic expereience a few years ago during a MAV free phase. I was wearing Moschino to work and it completely set off my one of my team with a non-stop sneezing fit all day. It was dreadful, and she was genuinely allergic to it. It happened a few times until she realised my perfume was the trigger. She told me and asked me to not wear it. I must say I was a bit offended at the time but I did stop.

However, this girl seems to be a ‘smellies’ fan. I wonder whether she has a poor sense of smell and plasters herself with ultra strong scented products without realising. I understand what a difficult situation you’re in. What about buying her a coffee and explaining to her the problem? As she’s new too she won’t be so put out by your request as it’s not as if she’s been there ages and some new bloke is disrupting the status quo.

Good luck with this as it’s a tricky one.

— Begin quote from "cmoc"

Hi Scott, I love the bit where you say “the next day she was wearing nothing and I breathed a sigh of relief” :shock:

— End quote


Nice one. Unfortunately she did show up wearing all of her clothes. LOL

Thanks guys. There’s no windows to open I’m afraid. They’re sealed shut. I’m going to try and tough this out. I’m totally sensitised at the moment and have been migraining my ass off anyway before she arrived. It’s just one more thing pushing me over the edge. Even when I leave work any scent I don’t like drives me crazy when I’m in contact with it even for a minute. Normally I wouldn’t notice unless it was something really strong like paint fumes or a heavy perfume on a bus.

Bottom line: a lot of women (and men) wear crappy stinking shitty perfume. I can handle some of them if they’re subtle but definitely not the cheap junk or the strong OTT stuff.

I was thinking of buying a mini office fan – battery operated sort to keep the air moving. It just doesn’t move in our corner. If I can keep it flowing somewhat, I might not notice it.


My office has sealed shut windows as well (but a view over tropical Redfern rather than the city). I assume it is to prevent office induced suicide.

As for your problem - it may be time to invest in some of those awesomely effective surgical masks. Maybe not every day, just Nude Tuesdays when she wears nothing but her cheap perfume and a smile and you wear the mask.

Gift her some unscented sorbolene - she can wash and moisturise with it and not stink the place out. If there is a perfume you can tolerate buy her that too.

If you follow my plan you and this gal will be an item within a month.

— Begin quote from "Victoria"

As for your problem - it may be time to invest in some of those awesomely effective surgical masks. Maybe not every day, just Nude Tuesdays when she wears nothing but her cheap perfume and a smile and you wear the mask.

If you follow my plan you and this gal will be an item within a month.

— End quote

Nude Tuesdays :lol:
It’ll help if she has a thing for Surgeons. Or (less likely) for men with germ phobias, or Michael Jackson impersonators.; discussion of MAV and other causes of dizziness, with free dating advice :wink:

Seriously though Scott, I don’t think you can really say it again, as you’ve already asked her twice. Clearly the girl just doesn’t quite get it, and you’re probably better off in the long run trying to adapt the environment to cope with it (the fan is a good idea). I currently sit next to a bloke who isn’t too keen on washing apparently, and on my other side is someone who smokes heavily. Maybe you could send her over here and I could see if she’d cancel out the other smells for me. But she might find it a bit cold in the UK for her Nude Tuesdays :wink:

Well I’d keep mentioning it since it’s a problem for you. And if she doesn’t listen, maybe you need to talk with someone higher up to make your office a perfume-free environment. I don’t think it’s all that uncommon, as many peole can be allergic to such smells.

Stinky people are awful!! Whether it’s stinks from cologne or not washing or smoking…I just don’t want to smell anything about anyone when I stand by them or after they leave a room.

I have a good friend who became very sick with chemical sensitivities and have learned a lot from her. We now avoid artificial scents in everything that we can–laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, bath soap, lotions, shampoo, fabric softner, etc. And especially avoid them in products for our children.

The vast majority of these “pretty” scents are made from chemcials and aren’t really good for anyone to be breathing in regularly, IMO.

In order for me to help, I need to vet the story a little further:

  1. Is she hot?
  2. If the answer to #1 is “yes,” can I get pics?
  3. If the answer to #1 is no, then I can’t help you.

I feel for you,have always been perfume sensitive.My mom and 2 sisters when I was growing up would use so much hairspray (it was the era for it),and I would bitch and moan to them to please stop.

When I go to the gym now,there is this young guy who is into AXE and douses himself,I try to avoid the areas he is in but find myself giving him evil looks.

Sounds like you have done all you can with her,you have gotten some great suggestions.I like the buy her some non smelly stuff and take her out for a coffee and explain the situation,other wise I would just give up and move locations.It’s so not worth it.

Sometimes I will have students come to class and they reek of perfume.One woman I very politely told her that many people in the class had allergies,she said ok and next time I saw her she still smelled of it but not as bad.She said she hadn’t used any,I think she was so soaked in it all of her clothes,etc that she didn’t have to put any on.
I read somewhere recently that they think that some women who wear lots of perfume may actually be depressed and it is some how affecting their sense of smell.They can’t smell how much they put on.So now when I smell them I look for signs of a depressed personality!

I wish you luck with this.


Oh my, I really feel for you. I have a a terrible problem with stinky perfume also. Some people just don’t get it, they really don’t! They don’t understand, even when you tell them it bothers you. They haven’t a clue. I used to work with a girl like that and I told her that her perfumes, scents, hand lotions etc bothered me and made me feel very “car sick.” She never understood where I was coming from and would say things like “this won’t bother you, it’s just hand lotion,” or “this one smells good, I think you’ll like it.” I still work with her but she’s in the other end of the building now. We’re good friends and stop and talk when we see each other but I cannot stand close to her or talk for long.

Way back when I was in 7th grade I remember wearing some stinky perfume. It didn’t bother me at the time and I thought it made me rather sexy and glamourous - hahahaha. But the young guy I sat next to had a problem with it and told me it was too strong and gave him a headache. At the time I never did “get” what he was saying because I was so sure it was alluring, to say the least.

I think it might be worth a try to explain to her in your nice, kind way, once again what strong scents do for you. Do others in your office know that you have a problem with this? Maybe you can get some back up from them. If she hears it from more than one person it will be more effective. Also, positive reinforcement - on those days she isn’t wearing the stinky stuff tell her what a nice change it is to not have to smell that all day and you hope she will continue to keep it away during work hours. (but say it nicer than that, lol)


I think you should try the fan idea.


Hey Scott,

I’m really sorry your going thru this. Some folks are very insensitive, don’t understand or just don’t give a hoot! If i were you i would talk to her again…go into more detail about your illness. If you have a cafeteria ask her if she would like to go for some coffee and that you wanted to talk to her again. It might help if you give her more information about the condition you have. If that doesn’t help, i would go to either your supervisor or her supervisor. Why should you put in an 8 hour day feeling more miserable than you already feel!

Good Luck,


Good news and bad news.

Good: the girl has stopped using the crap she had on yesterday after I told her I’d had a headache late yesterday afternoon. She said, “I hope it’s not because of me” and I sort of deflected it by saying that I had been in a meeting with another woman wearing a strong perfume (true) and that it was best if she could wear something with no strong lingering scent whatsoever. Today I bought her lunch and thanked her because she got it right today. Zero scent.

Bad: a manager sits in an adjacent corner. She has been wearing perfume off and on but it’s been low key and not a major issue until today (of course). She had slapped on something uber strong to cover up the smell of her smoking me thinks. Not a blinding headache but it made me feel sick to my stomach for most of the day. WHY I ask do they wear this stuff? Not attractive.

On Monday morning we have a weekly meeting and I’ll bring the topic up. I think she’ll be cool about it because she has all sorts of allergies and will understand my hassle. The good news is that another guy here with a desk space across from me offered to swap if I can’t get this sorted.

Almost there folks. Slowly transforming my new work environment into a trigger-free zone. The last thing will be to rip the fluorescent lights out of the ceiling. Fat chance there. :lol: I feel like an alien in here. I may as well walk in with a gas mask and red shades on.


What a brilliant idea, I wouldnt have thought of that. To say that another woman in a meeting was wearing a strong perfume and that gave you the headache. Thats the one to use in future! I dont understand why people feel the need to inflict their ghastly choice of smells on other people anyway, whats wrong with good old plain soap and water?


Scott, do you think that maybe after being around flouresant for a while, your brain will adjust and won’t be such a bad trigger after some time. Cause when this hit me, the flouresant lights at work bothered me for a while but not so much anymore.


I don’t know what line of business you are in but can you not work from home? It must be difficult to be at work all day with the scents that are used by everybody all day. Deoderant, soap, perfume, hair spray, air freshener, after shave, hair gel…and probably used in cafes, pubs, public transport etc. I am a migraineur and Dior’s Poison used to make me feel spectacularly unwell but now love all types of scent and seem not to be affected at all. Personally, if I was the offending girl, I would probably be pretty arsed off if somebody kept telling me not to use scented body products…but does she fully understand the issue? It may be that like 90% of the population she has no idea about migraine and MAV. I doubt that she is likely to stop using any scented body products though. Maybe suggest she visits a more expensive fragrance department for a more subtle bottle? I loathe the stench of smokers when they come back from their regular fag breaks (and I speak as an ex smoker), but I don’t feel it is really OK for me to tell them to have a shower before getting back to their desks… :frowning:

Whilst smells are def NOT a trigger for me - I’ve always HATED anything with a pong my whole life!!

The smell of lavender is enough to send me running into oncomig traffic closely followed by all things mint. I hate perfumes and stuff that is fragranced and air fresheners freak me out and send me tearing out the room - horrid little things!

I dont know why but I just have an aversion to stuff that whiffs! :?

I even wear those surgical masks on aeroplanes hahhahaah

Yes I’m weird :mrgreen:

Muppo – I’d love to wear a surgical mask in here. They would think I was a total freak. On the other hand if I were in Japan, it would be totally normal. They all walk around with masks on in hayfever season. It’s a fashion piece!

So I just had my weekly meeting with the manager and after a good meeting with her we hit the “any other business” part at which point I explained to her that strong perfumes do not go down well with my effed up migraine brain. My manager is quite nice but has been here for years and has a strong personality. I tried to use as much diplomacy and charm as I could muster but she seemed ok about it yet taken aback by what I had said. She asked how I would cope in a company where 70% of the employees are women … meetings etc. I said that short-term exposure was OK but long term in an office space with less than average air flow was bad news. She asked if I was feeling bad after our interview. I said that yes, I was feeling more headachy. Horrible situ but had to do it. I feel like I’m telling someone they have bad breath. Anyhow, I apologised and said I was happy to move to another area but what can I do? I then pointed out to her that just as she sneezes her head off with the smallest amount of dust in the air, I too reacted to perfume in a similar way – but with headache. I think it resonated. Still it was uncomfortable and not as easy as colleague number 1 (who BTW does not wear any of it now – YAY).

Wino – new girl is a good looker. :lol:


I’m sorry , but chrises story has me wetting my pants after chatting to Mr “I hate perfume” lol :lol: on the phone this afternoon.
I can’t stop cracking up! sorry Scott , I’m a migrianeur too … and understand, but what chris said! :lol:
The world must think we are insaine!!! :lol:
ask her to move :lol: heeeeee

The Sharing of a Perfume Shower lol

Muppo, :lol: