What is Sweet syndrome?

Sweet syndrome is a very rare inflammatory skin condition characterized by a sudden onset of fever and painful rash on the arms, legs, trunk, face, or neck. It’s also known as acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis.

In some cases, Sweet syndrome occurs with other medical conditions such as cancer, gastrointestinal infections, or pregnancy. Occasionally, Sweet syndrome results when people use certain medications. These include some antibiotics, like co-trimoxazole (Bactrimâ„¢), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Advil®.

Treatment for Sweet syndrome involves corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, which are used to reduce inflammation. In most cases, medications reduce or get rid of symptoms. Treating the medical problem may resolve your symptoms if an underlying condition is causing Sweet syndrome.

How common is Sweet syndrome?

Sweet syndrome is a rare medical condition. To date, several hundred cases have been reported.

Who is most at risk for getting Sweet syndrome?

Anyone can develop Sweet syndrome. Most people living with this condition are women between the ages of 30 and 50.

What complications are associated with Sweet syndrome?

In some cases, Sweet syndrome affects other organ systems in the body, like your nervous and gastrointestinal systems. Most commonly, eye problems occur. These may include eye inflammation, increased eye pressure (glaucoma), and corneal ulceration, or sores on your cornea.

What causes Sweet syndrome?

The cause of Sweet syndrome is unknown. Doctors use three categories to classify Sweet syndrome:

  • Classical: The disorder occurs with other medical conditions like upper respiratory infections, pregnancy, or gastrointestinal infections.
  • Malignancy-associated: Sweet syndrome appears with certain types of cancer, like acute myeloid leukemia.
  • Drug-induced: Certain medications trigger Sweet syndrome. These include some antibiotics, like Bactrim, NSAIDS and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), which stimulates your body to make neutrophils, a type of immune system cell.

What are the symptoms of Sweet syndrome?

The symptoms of Sweet syndrome come on suddenly. They include:

  • Painful bumps or small blisters filled with pus on the face, neck, arms, or legs
  • Skin and mouth lesions (sores or tumors)
  • Skin discoloration
  • Fever
  • Muscle and joint pain, headache, and fatigue
  • General feeling of being unwell

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