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June 23, 2021

Managing personal hygiene

How to keep yourself feeling fresh when you can't smell your own body

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Not being able to smell the world around you can be isolating, but not being able to smell yourself can really knock your confidence. 

When we asked our community whether they were more self-conscious about their body odour, eight out of ten people told us this was a problem for them. People also expressed the sense of loss of identity they experience when they can’t smell their own body: some people literally feel disembodied.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been sharing tips and asking our community how they overcome the challenges.

Routine

One of the best tips we’ve heard for staying fresh is to keep to the same routine. Shower or bathe daily using the same amount of the same products when you wash. Get in the habit of applying deodorant at the same point in your dressing routine. Unless you find a current product a parosmia trigger, stick with replacing like-for-like as you run out - that way you can be sure you smell the way you know you like to.

It can be really tempting to apply more deodorant or perfume than usual ‘just to be sure’ but we know how overpowering smells can be for others around you. Trust your routine to take the worry out of your day. 

Investigate options

Parosmia can make some smells unbearable, but don’t write off using products altogether. We know that different brands can trigger or be ‘safe’ so explore alternatives to see what works for you. Everyone has different triggers so there is no single list of ‘safe’ products, but if you’re looking for something in particular ask the AbScent community for suggestions.

Toothpaste

Fresh breath comes top of the list for personal hygiene, but for many people with parosmia, the taste of mint is a strong trigger. There are alternative flavoured toothpastes, such as strawberry and bubble-gum. Look for them in the children's care aisle as they are often aimed at children who find the taste and sensation of mint too strong. Cinnamon toothpaste is often found to be a good substitute as this has a little more of the ‘clean’ sensation often associated with mint flavours.

A mouthwash can also help with the sensation of cleanliness. Unfortunately they also lean heavily towards mint flavourings, but look out for alternatives like clove.

Every day’s wash day

Make a point of putting all your clothes in the wash after each wear, and take a regular trip to the dry cleaners for things that can’t be washed. The smell of fresh laundry is one of life’s pleasures, so spread a little happiness with those around you, even if you can’t smell it yourself.

Perfumes and colognes

These personal fragrances are usually a complex blend of many different odour molecules. An old favourite can become less lovable if you can only detect certain elements of it, and if it contains potential parosmia triggers you’ll want to avoid it completely! Don’t ditch your expensive fragrances though: triggers do change over time and to wear a fragrance you know you like can be a little confidence boost on a special occasion, even when you can’t smell it.

And a note on ‘bathroom’ smells

Many people with smell disorders notice their poo can smell unexpectedly pleasant. Remember, this is a change in your perception, not a different odour you are creating, so don’t expect others to be as enthusiastic!

Share your tips

If your usual routine has been disrupted by parosmia please remember it won't always be like this. There will come a time when you will be able to do things normally, and making some small temporary adaptions along the way can help you feel better more quickly.

Found something that works for you? Please share it on the AbScent Network - our free community forum where together we share and support each other to overcome the challenges of living with a smell disorder. 

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