Obsessive fragrance wearers

Asking people to refrain from wearing fragrance around you because it gives you asthma, headaches or other symptoms should be simple. It often is, but some people are extremely difficult about it. If you’ve ever thought some people were irrational about their fragranced products you’re not wrong. 

There are those who are literally obsessed with perfume, such as:

I’ve had pretty bad ocd [obsessive-compulsive disorder] since I was a kid but it comes and goes. For the past year I have developed serious ocd about my fragrances.

For starters I feel an absolute need to display all of my fragrances. This includes mini’s all on their own separate tray and two transparent candle holders full of samples. I windex and wipe all of them at LEAST once a week. I’ve never been a particularly materialistic person. I could care less about jewelry and fancy clothes, but for some reason I’m so attached to my perfumes. I’ve bought three in the past week. Financially this isnt that bad for me, but where will it end? I almost feel like I wont be satisfied until I smell every perfume ever made, I always feel like the most beautiful scent in the world is out there just waiting for me and I’ll never find her.

Every time I use one, I have to rub off my finger prints and place it back in the exact same spot it was before. I also cant leave the house without a sample or a roll on in my purse. I have nightmares about house fires or break ins. I dont live in a particularly bad area and my family and I have been victims of fire before so we’re extremely careful, but still this thought comes to mind. I’m moving from Michigan to Texas soon and instead of flying I’m actually renting a car just so I can be sure my perfume gets there safely. And after I get settled in I’m getting a doberman just in case someone even thinks about breaking in my house. I could care less about my electronics or my small crystal collection, but if anything happened to my perfume I think I would have a nervous breakdown.

I think I have a problem

and this woman:

I must have at least 40 bottles of perfume along with dozens of perfume oils and body sprays. Mine is more of a “scent fetish” because I have just as many lotions, home fragrance oils, candles and air fresheners. My scent fetish is so bad, that I have to wear a different perfume everyday and will not repeat a fragrance within the same month. I’ve even written lists of which fragrance I’ll wear each day for the next 2 months! I obviously have alot of time on my hands but I can’t help it. Like you, if I come across a beautiful fragrance, I’ll obsess over it until I get it. I don’t sell any of my perfumes but I’ve given away several bottles to my mom as many of them were duplicates. (Bought the duplicates in fear of running out and not being able to get more at a later date).

I’m not sure if this obsession will ever go away, but I’m ok with it since I’m not hurting anyone or stealing to continue it. …

Of course, she is hurting people. Being near her and her perfume and scents from other fragranced products would trigger asthma, sinus pain, migraine, other headaches, sore eyes or other symptoms in people sensitive to fragrance. She also hurts people indirectly by restricting their access to public places. Many people who are sensitive to fragrance are forced to stay away from places where there are likely to be fragranced people to prevent symptoms that can be painful, disabling and, in some cases, life-threatening. She leaves a trail of fragrance behind her – the seats she sat on, the objects she touched and the air in rooms she spent time in are left fragranced and therefore a hazard to people sensitive to fragrance.

There are also people who believe they emit offensive odours and use huge amounts of fragranced products to cover them up. This is called olfactory reference syndrome (ORS). It isn’t officially a diagnosis yet – psychiatrists mostly consider it to be a subtype of obsessive compulsive disorder or body dysmorphic disorder. One sufferer wrote:

I suffer really badly from olfactory reference syndrome. I’ve had it my whole entire life. For those who do not know what it is, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olfactory_reference_syndrome. All of my friends and family say I smell fine and that I look clean when I go out. I usually take 4–6 showers a day and brush my teeth about 5 times a day. It’s gotten really, really bad. I don’t like going out even though people say I don’t smell at all. If I do go out, I spray myself down with perfume about 10 times. :\ I know using excessive perfume can cause a strong smell, but I don’t feel good unless I spray myself down and only that last up until I have to get out of my car. I don’t want to take seratonin like my psychiatrist wants. I’ve gone out of my way. I believe all of my depression to be caused by ORS. It has isolated me from the world, kept me in my house and away from people and has made me feel so horrible about myself. I’ve even tried taking odor free garlic and zinc to get rid of smells that people say aren’t there. Does anyone have any ideas? Should I just keep saying it’s in my head? I have tried doing that but how can I be sure? I believe the smells to be real and anything can trigger me to leave. I can’t sit near people, I can’t stay in a building without moving for long periods of time, I just hate this.

Another wrote:

For 15 years ive had trouble passing wind infront of people or going to toilet. Its now as bad as i cant go to friends houses or meals or anything cause i panic that il need to pass wind, what if it shemells, what if i need to pass wind loads and peoples reactions. Its stopping me from living my life. I need to know where the toilet is and must sit on the end of a row of seats so i can get away if needs be. I constantly check my smell, constantly apply perfume. I hate it. People must get such a bad impression of me as im no sociable. I want to be but this illness is stopping me. Ive been docs who pres meds. Didnt work and went hypnotherapy..didnt work. So fed up i want to cry. Can anyone offer advise or help, just want to know im not alone. Im on waiting list for councilling so im in limbo now.

and another

I am almost positive that i have olfactory reference syndrome(Autodysomophobia)(ORS). It has been bothering me for to years. Sometimes to the point of suicidal thoughts. I also was diagnosed with OCD about 7 months ago. I have recently told my mom how i feel and she kinda understands. I also told her i need to go back to the counselor. My dad on the other hand doesn’t understand at all. He also doesn’t understand OCD. With some people who have ORS think that they smell when people scratch there nose or sneeze. For me i notice that when i’m around people they breathe in and out of there nose constantly and it brings me to suicidal thoughts. And this sounds weird but I think that from thinking that i have a smell and covering myself in body wash, deodorant, and body spray, that i actually created a bad smell. Because people have said that something smells weird or bad when I walk by or near them. So please help me!?! This has kept me from hanging out with friends, going to football games with friends, and most importantly, talking to the girl i am almost close to in love with. I have to avoid her bc i feel like i smell so i don’t even try to stand next to her. It just bothers me so much. And now my grades are going down, I have 2 F’s, and my parents think its TV, Computer, etc. But it’s not.

Olfactory reference syndrome is a very distressing condition that can lead to suicide. It can be treated and we can only hope that people with it get treated, for their sake and also for ours.

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5 Comments

  1. Yes, I just came across this on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HannahJBetts/status/687657973804568576

    This is the embed:

    Olfactory OCD in action pic.twitter.com/5ny3Dfr8z0— Singularist (@HannahJBetts) January 14, 2016

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    Not sure if it will show up. But you could add it to the html code of your post–or not.

  2. Thanks, people can click on the link to see it.

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