Sweet's Syndrome

 What is Sweet’s Syndrome?

Sweet’s syndrome (also known as acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis) is an uncommon skin disorder characterised by a fever and the appearance of tender red lumps on the skin. It is a reactive condition with a number of potential triggers. It is not contagious and cannot be transferred from one person to another.

What causes Sweet’s Syndrome?

In 50% of those affected it is not possible to identify a cause. Examples of causes include upper respiratory tract infections, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy. Sweet’s syndrome can also be caused by some medications and may be a sign of an underlying blood disorder or an internal cancer, but it is important to know that having Sweet’s syndrome does not mean that you definitely have one of these diseases.Sweet’s syndrome   may improve or resolve with treatment of the underlying condition. 

Is Sweet’s syndrome hereditary?

It is very unusual for Sweet’s syndrome to affect more than one family member. In some of those cases a genetic link has been shown, but it is not normally a hereditary condition.

What does Sweet’s syndrome of the skin look like?

The most common skin changes in Sweet’s syndrome are raised red, pink or purplish tender skin lumps. These can be small (known as papules, which can be about 5-10 mm) or larger (known as nodules) and can join together to form bigger areas (known as plaques). They can be single or multiple and can appear anywhere on the skin although the arms, face and neck are affected most often. Sometimes blisters or pustules can be seen and the rash may appear at the site of an injury to the skin.

What are the symptoms of Sweet’s syndrome?

Sweet’s syndrome may cause some or all of the following symptoms arising together over a period of hours or a few days:

         • a rash (described above)

         • tiredness, lack of energy and feeling unwell

         • high fever (temperature)

         • aching joints and muscles

         • mouth ulcers

         • sore eyes

How will Sweet’s syndrome be diagnosed?

Tests that are useful in Sweet’s syndrome include:

A biopsy. This is the most important test. A sample is taken from a part of the skin involved by the Sweet’s syndrome and then examined under the microscope.

Blood tests such as a high white blood cell count can help make a diagnosis of Sweet’s syndrome.

Your doctor may recommend other blood tests or x-rays to look for a cause of the Sweet’s syndrome.

If a medication is thought to be responsible, your doctor may recommend stopping it for a while.


For further information and details about possible treatments please go to


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