Sweet Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis
What is Sweet Syndrome?
Sweet Syndrome is an extremely rare disorder of the skin characterized by painful skin lesions which appear usually on the arms, neck, head, and trunk. It may also be accompanied by fever. There is no known cause of Sweet Syndrome but it is believed to be activated by an infection, some underlying medical condition or utilizing certain medications.
Certain types of cancer can also trigger the mechanism that results in development of Sweet Syndrome. This condition is normally treated with steroids with the symptoms abating within a few days of treatment, although recurrence post successful treatment is a common phenomenon with Sweet Syndrome.
What are the Causes of Sweet Syndrome?
As stated, the root cause for Sweet Syndrome is not known but it is believed to be caused by an infection or an illness. Leukemia is thought to be associated with development of Sweet Syndrome.
People with breast or colon cancer also tend to have this condition. Sweet Syndrome can also occur as a reaction to certain medications like those which increase the production of WBCs in the body.
What are the Symptoms of Sweet Syndrome?
Red colored lesions or bumps which are painful are the presenting symptom of Sweet Syndrome. These lesions are normally on the head, neck, back and trunk areas. They may also be associated with fever or a respiratory infection. The size of the lesions tend to increase quite rapidly as they start spreading to other parts of the body.
How is Sweet Syndrome Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of Sweet Syndrome can be suspected just by simple visual inspection of the lesions or bumps. In order to confirm the diagnosis and to rule out certain other condition that cause similar symptoms the physician may perform a blood test or do a skin biopsy.
In cases of Sweet Syndrome there will be elevated levels of WBCs on the blood test. The skin biopsy will show abnormalities which are characteristic of Sweet Syndrome. These two tests will confirm the diagnosis of Sweet Syndrome.
How is Sweet Syndrome Treated?
Minor cases of Sweet Syndrome do not require any treatment and the rashes go away by themselves within a few days. For severe cases of Sweet Syndrome, steroids in tapering doses like prednisone are extremely beneficial in getting rid of the rashes formed as a result of Sweet Syndrome.
The medication is given in tapering doses as long term use can lead to certain undesirable side effects. Additionally, certain creams or lotions can also be applied on the lesions to facilitate faster healing of the lesions. In case if there are only a few lesions then an injection of steroids can be injected directly on the lesions so as to treat Sweet Syndrome.
In cases where an individual is intolerant of steroid use, then other forms of medications are used to treat Sweet Syndrome. These medications are potassium iodide and colchicines, which have shown to be quite effective in treating the lesions caused by Sweet Syndrome.