I have a sensitivity to fragrances, and strong perfumes can trigger migraine headaches in me. I work with a woman who wears strong perfume. After a few minutes in the copy room with her, I have a splitting headache. Several times, I have had to go home because I can no longer work. I don’t know her personally, so it feels inappropriate to ask her to stop wearing her perfume. Help! —M.

Fragrance sensitivity can be a hard problem to handle. The kicker? People wearing fragrances are often unaware they’re causing a problem and incredulous that a scent they like could be offensive or harmful to others. And not many organizations have rules about fragrance. So let’s start with some (admittedly soft) self-help: Avoid your co-worker when possible, and try chewing strong peppermint gum or dabbing menthol under your nose until the trigger passes. Going further, I suggest speaking directly to the woman wearing perfume. Personally, I would be more sympathetic to the suffering of a co-worker than to a memo from an administrator. Explain your problem, without blame, and she may cooperate. This may seem burdensome, but unless you want to spearhead a policy change about fragrance at work, which you may, a polite request is your best first move.

—Adapted from “Social Q’s” in The New York Times Magazine