Skin Issues in PD

Changes in the skin are common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). People with PD can develop oily or flaky skin, especially on the face and scalp. Others have trouble with dry skin or excessive sweating. Recent studies have also shown an increased liklihood of developing skin cancer among people with PD.  Here are some resources to understand the different skin issues affecting those with PD and how to manage them.

Downloadable Documents | Online Articles | Podcasts & Webinars | Expert-level Resources

Downloadable Documents

Skin and Sweating Problems in Parkinson's

Published by Parkinson's UK, May 2015

People with Parkinson's are more likely than the general population to develop oily skin, seborrhoeic dermatitis, or experience too much or too little sweating.  This 7-page PDF briefly describes each problem with tips for managing at home and mentions medical treatments may be available if home measures are insufficient.

Online Articles

Skin Changes

Reviewed by Chauncey Spears, MD, University of Florida.  Published by the Parkinson's Foundation

This short webpage discusses the causes of oily, flakey, or inflamed skin, dry skin, excessive sweating, and too little perspiration with some suggestions for what you can do at home to relieve discomfort.  It is not an exhaustive list of treatments.  There is also a short blurb about the increased risk of skin cancer, especially melanoma, in those with PD which encourages annual screening by a dermatologist.

Sweating and Other Skin Changes in People with Parkinson's Disease

By Rebecca Gilbert, MD.  Published by the American Parkinson Disease Association

This article highlights seborrheic dermatitis, which causes patches of scaly, red skin and dandruff, primarily on the scalp and oily parts of the face.  Also discussed is sweating abnormalities, or sweating dysregulation (either too much or too little), and suggestions to alleviate excessive sweating including medical intervention.  Finally, there is mention of the increased risk of developing skin cancer in those with PD.  People with PD should be screened by a dermatologist annually.


Podcasts & Webinars

Examining the Association, Nature of Skin Disorders in Parkinson Disease

By the American Journal of Managed Care, January 22, 2021

This 6-minute interview by MJH Life Sciences’ Medical World News, Nicki Niemann, MD, neurologist and co-author of a review article titled “Parkinson's Disease and Skin” summarizes some of that article's findings.  In particular, Dr. Niemann explains the relationship between melanoma and Parkinson's Disease, but states that research firmly refutes there is any association between use of levodopa and development of melanoma.  A transcript of the interview is available below the video box.

The Skinny on Skin and Bone Health in Parkinson's

By the Parkinson's Foundation, December 1, 2021

In the first half of this one-hour webinar neurologist Nicki Niemann, MD, discusses skin issues in PD, noting that skin disorders are common in PD but often overlooked.  Following Dr. Niemann's presentation metabolic bone disease specialist Kenneth Lyles, MD, talks about bone health in PD, noting that those with PD have four times higher risk of hip fractures than those without.

Expert-Level Resources

Parkinson's Disease and Skin

By Nicki Niemanna, Andrew Billnitzerb, Joseph Jankovicb.  Published in Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, November 20, 2020

This review article affirms skin disorders are common in Parkinson's disease.  The authors postulate possible causes and corelations for skin disorders which are overrepresented in PD.  Other skin disorders are a consequence of oral, parenteral, and surgical therapies for PD.  Finally, comment is made about the emerging role skin biopsy plays in PD diagnosis and stem cell therapy.

Last updated February 2022 by Stanford Parkinson's Community Outreach