If You Notice This On Your Scalp, Get Checked for Parkinson's
Researchers say this seemingly unrelated symptom could someday unlock early diagnosis.
There are a handful of Parkinson's disease (PD) symptoms that are well-known, even to those unaffected by the condition, like tremors and difficulty walking. But experts warn that the progressive disease comes with a range of lesser-known symptoms that you may be overlooking—especially those that are unrelated to motor function. They say that these seemingly unrelated symptoms could help you reach a diagnosis earlier if you know what to look for and bring your concerns to your doctor's attention in a timely manner. Read on to find out which symptom may appear on your scalp and what you can do about it if you notice the problem.
If you notice oily skin on your scalp, you may want to get checked for Parkinson's.
Many people with Parkinson's experience a surprising symptom with no obvious connection to the condition: having oily skin on their scalp. This occurs thanks to an increase in sebum, an oily substance produced by the body's sebaceous glands. This can cause the scalp and hair to appear greasy and shiny. "Some people may only have minor issues, while others may have more severe problems that can affect daily life and cause them discomfort or embarrassment," explains health organization Parkinson's UK.
This increase in sebum can also cause a distinct smell associated with PD, according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and researchers say this symptom may someday prove diagnostically useful. "If we can define what is behind this Parkinson's scent, perhaps we can develop objective tests to diagnose the disease earlier," said Perdita Barran, BSc, PhD, a researcher studying sebum characteristics in PD patients. "Measuring Parkinson's disease with such an easy-to-obtain sample, a swab of skin secretions, would also allow for more widespread screening," she said.
You may also notice the problem on these other body parts.
While the scalp is most commonly affected, you may also notice oily skin on the face, particularly around the nose and on the inner parts of the eyebrows, experts from Parkinson's UK explain. Many patients also notice a change on and inside their ears, on their eyelids, on their chest, or anywhere the skin folds, including under the breasts, arms, and groin.
Choosing the right soaps and shampoos can help keep the problem under control.
The Australian health organization Parkinson's Victoria recommends using gentle soaps or soap-free cleansers and to steer clear of products that contain alcohol. They advise washing your hair more frequently and switching to a shampoo that's designed for oily hair and dandruff control, as well. Men who are bald may also benefit from using sorbolene cream on their scalp, which can provide a temporary feeling of relief from any discomfort or itchiness related to the condition.
Shampoos with at least five percent tea tree oil may also be effective in reducing flakiness, thanks to the ingredient's anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Here's what to expect in more severe cases.
In some severe cases, individuals with Parkinson's may develop seborrhoeic dermatitis, which can lead to the scalp or other areas of skin becoming red, itchy, flaky, and inflamed.
To combat the condition, your doctor may prescribe a special shampoo that contains the ingredients ketoconazole and selenium sulfide, which should help soothe your irritated skin. Your doctor may also be able to prescribe a short-term steroid-based cream or ointment to help treat your skin inflammation and may recommend medicated ear drops in the event that the condition has affected your ear canal.
Speak with your doctor today if you suspect seborrheic dermatitis. With their help, you may find relief of your symptoms as well as crucial insights into its underlying causes—whether it's Parkinson's disease or something else.