For a brief research overview on this, see Odorant substances that trigger headaches in migraine patients on the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health website. The bottom line: 70% of the 200 people in the study were triggered into a migraine after 20 minutes of exposure!
I ask my clients to be scent-free at my office. Here are a few instances where I’ve run into trouble: bedding at hotels and AirBnbs; waiting in checkout lines at department stores (items near the registers are filled with scented products and I’ve had to abandon my items and leave the store); a mobile notary that came to our house recently for us to sign re-fi paperwork was wearing cologne; an optician where I get glasses, people in the pool at the YMCA, etc.
I understand that people like to wear scents. There might even be a piece of individual identity wrapped in the scent of your choice. It’s projected that by 2025 global fragrance sales will be over $52 billion dollars annually!
On the flip side, it is estimated that 38 million people in the US suffer from migraines, and it may be as high as 50 million. A [www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov › pmc › articles › PMC2676126 Mayo Clinic research article states that, “the total cost of lost productive time due to any type of headache pain was $19.6 billion (in 2002 US dollars).
I’m not telling you what to do; I’m asking you to consider options. If you are in proximity to others who have nowhere else to go (e.g., a work setting, guests in your home, visiting others, etc.), you might want to ask if anyone among them gets migraines and whether scent is a trigger for them. If you’re in a position to inform policy, consider creating a scent-free environment. You could be saving someone from a world of hurt.
I’m paraphrasing Clint Eastwood here “Go ahead, make my day [better by skipping scents.”