Are Holiday Fragrances Leaving You Miserable?

Few things make the holiday feel more warm and intimate than candles. And with so many fragrance variations—apple cider, gingerbread, and Christmas tree to name a few—it’s hard to resist them!

Christmas candle

But if you find your health suffering when you are exposed to candles, you may need to keep your distance or develop some work-around strategies.

Here are some common signs of candle allergy:

  • Allergic rhinitis-type symptoms (runny or congested nose, sneezing)
  • Sinus pain or pressure
  • Irritated eyes (scratchy, watery)
  • Headache (or spinning, dizzy feeling)
  • Skin rash (eczema, etc.)
  • Difficulty breathing, wheezing, etc.

Reactions to candle and other scented items (like air fresheners or room sprays) likely stem from the body’s reaction to the chemicals in those items. Some scented items are an amalgam of hundreds of chemicals! Chemicals know as VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are often found in scented items. They have a similar effect as air pollution, irritating the airways and nasal passages.

So what to do if you really like candles but don’t like their effects on your health?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Opt for soy candles which tend to cause less reactions than paraffin candles.
  • Choose unscented, flameless candles. They gave you the same ambience as a regular candle without the scented emissions, and you don’t have to deal with the melting wax and fire hazards.
  • Choose candles made from essential oils which may not irritate your body as much as synthetic fragrances do.
  • Try single-note candles rather than those containing scent mixes. You may be able to find a fragrance or two that you don’t react to as much as others.

Reactions to fragrances are more common than you might think. Nearly 20 percent of the population reported adverse affects to their health from air fresheners. For asthma sufferers, that figure jumped to nearly 30 percent.

Contact AllergyEasy if allergic reactions to fragrances and other elements in your environment are consistently interfering with your well-being. You may be a candidate for allergy testing and treatment.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.