What is Sweet’s syndrome?
Sweet’s syndrome is also called acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis. Its
primary symptoms are skin lesions — usually small red bumps — and a fever. The
lesions appear most commonly on your neck, arms, back, or face.
The condition is easy to treat. Patients with Sweet’s syndrome are often
given corticosteroid pills, such as prednisone. With treatment, symptoms typically go
away after a few days, though recurrence is common.
What are the symptoms of Sweet’s
An outbreak of small red bumps on the
arms, neck, back, or face can signal that a person has Sweet’s syndrome. The
bumps can grow in size quickly, and they show up in clusters that can get to be
about an inch in diameter.
If you experience a sudden rash that
spreads, contact a medical professional.
What causes Sweet’s syndrome?
It’s not always clear what causes Sweet’s
syndrome. An infection, an illness, or certain medications can trigger this
condition. It can also appear in some cancer patients, specifically those with:
- a breast cancer tumor
- colon cancer
Who is at risk for Sweet’s
Sweet’s syndrome is not common. A few
factors increase risk:
- being a woman
- being between the ages of 30 and 50
- having leukemia
- being pregnant
- having recently recovered from an upper respiratory
How is Sweet’s syndrome diagnosed?
In most cases, a dermatologist can
diagnose Sweet’s syndrome simply by looking at the lesions on the skin. Even
so, patients are likely to be put through a few tests, such as a blood test or biopsy,
to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.
How is Sweet’s syndrome
In some cases, the condition resolves
itself. Corticosteroid pills, such as prednisone, are the most popular medical treatment for
Sweet’s syndrome. With treatment, symptoms usually disappear in a few days.
However, the condition may reoccur after treatment.
Corticosteroids are also available as
topical creams and injections. Your doctor will determine which form of
medication is right for you.
People with Sweet’s syndrome should be
gentle with their skin. They should apply sunscreen as needed and wear
protective clothing before going out in the sun. Follow any skin care regimen
or medication schedule prescribed by a doctor.
Because long-term corticosteroid use
can trigger side effects, the treating doctor may suggest other types of oral
medications, such as dapsone (Aczone), potassium iodide, colchicine (Colcrys), Indocin, and cyclosporine (Sandimmune).
What is the outlook for Sweet’s syndrome?
With medication, Sweet’s syndrome is
likely to clear up faster than if it is left untreated.
Preventing Sweet’s syndrome
Protecting your skin from prolonged sun exposure is a good way to avoid
recurrences of Sweet’s syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic, good sun protection methods include
- Sunscreen: Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF)
of at least 15, with both UVA and UVB protection.
- Protective clothing: Wear protective clothing, including
such items as wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, and sunglasses.
- Schedule: Avoid scheduling outdoor activities for midday
and early afternoon, when the sun is the strongest.
- Shady spots: Try to spend time in shady areas when you are