Is There a Smell Linked to Parkinson’s?

Is There a Smell Linked to Parkinson’s

Parkinson's disease produces an oily material on your skin that gives you a distinct smell, albeit it's typically undetectable. However, a diminished sense of smell in Parkinson's patients can make it harder for them to recognise their odour.

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a degenerative neurological disorder that impairs motor function. Tremors, rigidity, and issues with balance and coordination are common in people with Parkinson's disease (PD).

According to recent studies, PD patients may also have a distinct fragrance. Nevertheless, the typical person is unlikely to detect it.

This article summarises the current research on the effects of Parkinson's disease on body odour and sense of smell.

Do people with Parkinson’s have a particular scent?

Whether they have Parkinson's disease or not, everyone has a smell. Your unique smell is influenced by hormones, diet, and DNA.

Your ability to smell might also be affected by health issues. Changes in smell in Parkinson's patients are associated with increased sebum production, which is an oily material generated from the skin's sebaceous glands.

Still, most people wouldn't notice the aroma. The 2019 review's authors point out that the PD odour was just recently noticed by someone with an acute sense of smell.

Can you detect Parkinson’s disease by smelling it?

Parkinson's illness is mostly undetectable by smell. Even though PD is associated with a particular smell, most people are unlikely to recognise it.

Individuals with hyperosmia—a strong sensitivity to smell—are more likely to detect the smell of Parkinson's disease.

Scent as a potential biomarker

A potential PD biomarker is sebum. Thus, assessing sebum may be a means of diagnosing Parkinson's disease.

Research on the function of sebum in Parkinson's disease diagnosis is underway. For instance, the biochemical composition of sebum from PD patients and a control group was compared by the authors of a 2021 study.

They noted notable variations between the two groups and proposed a non-invasive method of testing for Parkinson's disease (PD) by analysing sebum patterns.

A different study from 2022 focused on creating a smelling apparatus that employs AI to identify the presence of Parkinson's disease in a sample of sebum. The system that the researchers developed may be used in conjunction with other diagnostic procedures by physicians to identify Parkinson's disease in its early stages.

Hyposmia and body odor

Reduced sense of smell, or hyposmia, is another symptom of Parkinson's disease.

A 2019 review found that those with hyposmia have a nearly four-fold increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease (PD) compared to those without hyposmia.

Hyposmia is similar to the PD fragrance in that it manifests early in the disease's course and could be a biomarker for it.

Hyposmia may make a person with Parkinson's disease (PD) less conscious of their body odour, which may cause concern for carers and family members.

Tips for reducing body odor linked to Parkinson’s

Parkinson's disease typically doesn't have a detectable odour. But if you or a loved one has Parkinson's disease and you're worried about body odour, take into account these suggestions:
  • Bathe regularly: As Parkinson's disease (PD) worsens, you might need to modify your restroom to make it simpler to keep up your regular hygiene regimen.
  • Use a gentle cleanser: When washing your face and body, you can get rid of extra sebum with a mild soap.
  • Apply deodorant: If body odour is an issue for you, try using a deodorising spray under your armpits.
  • Try blotting wipes: Blotting wipes—also referred to as blotting papers—can absorb oil from the face.
  • Wash your clothes, towels, and sheets regularly: Try adding a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle while doing laundry to get rid of smells.
  • Talk with a doctor: A doctor can assist in determining possible causes if you or a loved one's fragrance seems to be changing.


Can Prkinson's cause phantom smell?

Compared to visual hallucinations, olfactory hallucinations are substantially less well-documented in idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD).

How do you stop Parkinson's from progressing?

According to her, movement can impede the advancement of the disease, especially when it comes to exercises that promote balance and reciprocal patterns, which call for coordination of both sides of the body.


According to studies, sebum—an oil released on the skin's surface—production is impacted by Parkinson's disease. The tiny difference in smell linked to Parkinson's disease is probably caused by this.

Sebum from PD patients differs from that of non-patients, according to recent research, suggesting that sebum may be a biomarker for the disease. One day, sebum may be used as a PD test.

Speak with a healthcare provider if you or someone you know has Parkinson's disease (PD) and is noticing a shift in smell or a decreased sensitivity to smell.

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