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Sweet’s Syndrome
Sweet's syndrome is characterized by an outbreak of small red bumps on your body. Find out about treatments and how to prevent recurrent bouts.

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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 usually appear on a person’s neck, arms, back, and/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; however, recurrence is common.

What Causes Sweet’s Syndrome?

The cause of Sweet’s syndrome is sometimes not known. Sometimes an infection, an illness, or taking certain medications triggers this condition. It can also emerge in some cancer patients, specifically those with leukemia, a breast cancer tumor, or colon cancer.

Who Is at Risk for Sweet’s Syndrome?

Sweet’s syndrome is not common. A few factors increase risk: Women are more likely than men to get Sweet’s syndrome, for example. Women between the ages of 30 and 50 have an increased incidence of the condition; however, it has appeared in people of all ages. People with leukemia are more prone to developing Sweet’s syndrome than others.

Being pregnant or having recently recovered from an upper respiratory infection also increases risk.

What Are the Symptoms of Sweet’s Syndrome?

An outbreak of small red bumps on the arms, neck, back, and/or face can signal that a person has Sweet’s syndrome. The bumps can grow in size quite 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.

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 to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. A doctor may order a blood test or a biopsy.

How Is Sweet’s Syndrome Treated?

In some cases, the condition resolves itself. The most popular medical treatment for Sweet’s syndrome is corticosteroid pills, such as prednisone. 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.

Home Care

People with Sweet’s Syndrome should be gentle with their skin. This includes applying sunscreen as needed and wearing protective clothing before going out in the sun. Follow any skin care regimen or medication schedule prescribed by a doctor.

Alternative Therapies

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. This condition commonly reoccurs, however.

Preventing Sweet’s Syndrome

Protecting your skin from prolonged sun exposure is a good way to avoid recurrences of Sweet’s syndrome.

Written by: Kristen Fischer
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by: [Ljava.lang.Object;@2a2e45f8
Published: Jan 9, 2014
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
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