Parkinson’s Disease May Leave Telltale Odor on Skin

Parkinson’s Disease May Leave Telltale Odor on Skin

Parkinson’s UK, the largest charity funder of Parkinson’s research in the U.K., recently launched a new research project that explores the possibility of using an individual’s skin odor to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Watch the video below to learn more about this new project from Parkinson’s UK’s director of research, Arthur Roach:

Scientists have reasons to believe patients with Parkinson’s disease undergo changes in the composition of the skin’s sebum, causing the oily substance to have a subtle, yet unique scent, only noticeable to individuals with a keen sense of smell. The idea was born when a Scottland-based “super-smeller” correctly identified which patients had Parkinson’s disease after just smelling the clothing they had slept in. In fact, she was able to detect the unique odor on people who have not yet developed the disease.

Researchers at Parkinson’s UK, lead by Professor Perdita Barran from the University of Manchester, decided to go with the idea and design a study to involve as many as 200 individuals who either had or did not have Parkinson’s disease. A non-invasive skin swab and short questionnaire will be obtained from these individuals, and the team will study the differences in the sebum’s chemical composition. Results will be anonymized before being sent to the Scottish super-smeller — and other scent experts — for confirmation.

Dr. Roach said: “It’s very early days in the research, but if it’s proved there is a unique odour associated with Parkinson’s, particularly early on in the condition, it could have a huge impact not just on early diagnosis, but it would also make it a lot easier to identify people to test drugs that may have the potential to slow, or even stop Parkinson’s, something no current drug can achieve.”

Researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Center reported nilotinib (Tasigna® by Novartis), a treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), successfully treated Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia patients in a Phase I trial. The complete results were presented during the annual meeting of the society of Neuroscience, Neuroscience 2015, held in Chicago on October 17.

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Anna is responsible for the scripting and production of video news content. Her skills as a registered nurse as well as a proven video content creator on YouTube and other social media platforms allow her to create video news reports that are engaging and easy to understand for patients.


  1. Pat Wells says:

    How do i learn about the odor? My wife says my pillow stinks all the time and washes it regularly now. This oil smell on the pollow case may be telling me something early .

  2. Kathy Cottrell says:

    what can I do to help my husband’s body odor? It’s really extremely noxious. I can barely stand to be around him. Our grandchildren are having some difficulties. I hate all the things this horrific disease has done to this wonderful man, the odor is really quite bad.
    many thanks

  3. My husband has only just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s so I know very little about it. It may be totally unrelated but, for the past couple of months, I have sometimes noticed a smell of ammonia or chlorine in the bathroom (think it is on his flannel), I can’t quite decide. I can smell it sometimes too when I tumble dry his towels and flannel.

    • Barbara says:

      Hello Kathy, did you ever get an answer to your question about the Parkinson’s odour. I too am having problems coping with this problem

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