What Happens If Perfume Gets In Your Mouth?

  • By: Nathan Cherry
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Imagine: you’ve just sprayed on a heaping dose of your favorite designer perfume, but some of it ends up inside your mouth rather than on your wrists. 

It’s something that I would wager has happened at least once or twice to most perfumistas (it has to me, at least). But if you get perfume in your mouth, do you have cause to panic? And what should you do? 

Though getting perfume in your mouth is certainly not pleasant, it fortunately is not dangerous unless a large amount has been ingested. If you’ve ingested only a small amount, drink some water and contact your doctor if discomfort persists. If you’ve ingested a large amount, contact your local poison control center. 

Let’s take a closer look at the dangers of ingesting perfume and potential solutions to the problem.

What Will Happen If I Get Perfume In My Mouth?

So, what will happen if you get perfume in your mouth?

Well, potentially nothing. But also, potentially something very bad. 

It’s true that getting perfume in your mouth can have a potentially deleterious effect on your body. In today’s day and age, most perfumes are chock full of chemicals and stabilizers which can be toxic in high dosages. They also contain a variety of essential oils, many of which should only ever come into contact with the body through the skin or in  an extremely diluted form. 

Many are relatively obscure. Every year, IFRA (The International Fragrance Association) releases a new list of materials used in perfumery that can be harmful to the human body. You might not even know you’re allergic to one of the materials on that list until it’s too late, if you happen to accidentally ingest perfume. 

Additionally, denatured alcohol is used in most perfumes. That means that the alcohol used in the product contains certain chemical additives to make it bitter, foul-tasting, bad-smelling (though not so much this in perfumes), nauseating, or even poisonous so as to prevent people from just drinking the stuff. 

That means if you were to just drink some perfume as if it were an alcoholic beverage, a few different things might happen. You might die, of course, if you drink enough of it, or at least be poisoned and have to take a trip to the hospital. 

You could experience extreme nausea, high body temperatures, vomiting, and diarrhea, break out into hives or boils, pass out, have a seizure, experience disorientation and confusion, or simply have a vile taste in your mouth that you can’t get out. 

You would also get very, very drunk if you ever (incomprehensibly) decided to drink alcohol. This is not your 5% ABV can of Bud Light or 4% hard seltzer. We’re talking about some serious proof here. 

Ironically enough, in the old days, eau de cologne was often drunk, either as a conventional alcoholic beverage or as a medicinal curative. Apparently, some even got their tipple of the day in by imbibing eau de cologne or Florida Water, the American version of eau de cologne, under the pretext of drinking for health purposes. 

However, the perfumes of today are not, I repeat not in any way made for use of any kind besides application upon the skin or clothes. You should never, ever, purposefully drink perfume. 

But what should you do if, somehow, you do ingest perfume? 

Don’t Panic

The first thing I would advise you to do in such a situation (and really, in any similar situation) is not to panic. Don’t lose your mind and do something rash. Don’t start hyperventilating and having a panic attack. There’s a very simple solution to the problem, and so you shouldn’t lose your head. 

First thing’s first…

Determine The Amount of Perfume You’ve Ingested

The amount of perfume you’ve ingested will be the determining factor of what you should do to address the issue. 

Did you just get a little bit of perfume in your mouth on accident while it was floating about in the air? Did you accidentally spray directly into your mouth? Or, have you done something ludicrous (and, might I add, quite stupid) and ingested a large amount of perfume, say, in the ballpark of 10-30ml? 

Once you’ve figured out how much fragrance you’ve ingested, then you can think about next steps. 

What to Do If You’ve Ingested a Small Amount of Perfume

So what should you do if you’ve only gotten a small amount of perfume in your mouth – for example, around one or two sprays from a conventional perfume bottle? 

Well, the first thing to do is to see how you’re feeling. If you’ve ever tasted perfume, you’ll probably know that it leaves behind a dreadful bitter, acrid taste, courtesy of the denatured alcohol and other toxic chemicals present in the blend. 

If your symptoms begin and end at a bad taste on the tongue, then you should count yourself lucky. There’s pretty much nothing else for you to do than to drink some water or other liquid and try to wash the taste out of your mouth. Try swirling the liquid around in your mouth or gargling in order to vent the noxious stuff. 

If it tastes particularly bitter, you could also try to use the old bread trick to soak up the chemicals from your tongue. Simply take a piece of white bread and let it sit on your tongue for a minute or two to allow the toxins to transfer to the bread. 

Otherwise, the best thing to do is to give it some time. The bitter taste should go away eventually. However, if your symptoms persist, or if you start to experience more severe symptoms such as nausea or fever, it might be time to contact your doctor or poison control center. 

What To Do If You’ve Ingested a Large Amount of Perfume

If you’ve drunk a large amount of perfume, however, you will need to take more drastic measures. 

Of course, you should drink water and try to get as much of it out of your mouth as possible by gargling and spitting. 

However, if you begin to feel symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, fever, or vomiting, don’t hesitate: contact your doctor or your local poison control center immediately for emergency assistance. 

I cannot stress enough that ingesting perfume in large quantities can be extremely dangerous and harmful to the human body. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Don’t sit on the fence: if you’ve drunk between 10-30 ml of perfume, whether purposefully or by accident, get help right away. You’ll be glad you did. 

The Final Word

As we’ve seen, getting perfume in your mouth is no laughing matter. 

While it’s relatively harmless in low doses, it can be quite dangerous in higher concentrations and shouldn’t be trifled with. 

So, what should you do if you get perfume in your mouth? 

If you’ve ingested just a small amount of perfume, drink or gargle some water to get rid of the taste in your mouth. If you’ve ingested a large amount of perfume and are experiencing symptoms of nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, contact your doctor or local poison control center immediately.