Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and getting something sweet for that special person is of paramount importance, but it could come at a cost.

Perfumes and colognes are popular choices, for the beauty of their containers as well as the loveliness of their scents. Unfortunately, they are also the most common cause of contact dermatitis.

While avoidance is the best remedy to the problem, experts say it is not so simple. 

“Fragrances can have widespread use in detergents, fabric softeners, toothpaste and other toiletries,” says Abby Van Voorhees, MD, Professor and Chair of Dermatology at EVMS. “Eliminating exposure can be tricky since companies don’t always disclose what makes up their unique smells, but they will disclose if a particular ingredient is in their product.” Dr. Van Voorhees recommends reaching out a company to gather that information.  

If that doesn’t work, patch testing can help determine if a perfumed product will cause dermatitis. This is something that your dermatologist can help with. 

Alternatively, using the perfume on only clothing or hair can often allow a favorite product to be used safely despite the risk of a reaction.

Another approach is to switch to fragrance-free toiletries and avoid perfumes, but that isn’t any fun at Valentine’s Day. If you know that you have this type of allergy, encouraging your sweetheart to walk past the perfume counter may be the best strategy.

To learn more about contact dermatitis or to make an appointment, call 757.446.5629 or visit EVMS Dermatology.