'Nosing Around' the human skin: What information is concealed in skin odour?

Stefan Kippenberger*, Jan Havlíček, August Bernd, Diamant Thaçi, Roland Kaufmann, Markus Meissner

*Corresponding author for this work
21 Citations (Scopus)


In today′s world, natural body odour is mostly considered as being unpleasant and combated by intensive cleansing, deodorants and perfumes. However, there is evidence that volatile body compounds provide the recipient with important information. Here, we present the chemical identity of odorous compounds derived from odourless precursors within sweat and sebum. Moreover, distinct volatile markers may be relevant for the clinical diagnosis of disease. Interestingly, ageing seems to correlate with the appearance of specific compounds that convey the so-called old man smell. Finally, it is discussed if human skin odour has the quality to act as pheromone transmitting information between individuals in terms of major histocompatibility complex type or reproductive status.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Dermatology
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)655-659
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 09.2012

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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