Smoking and Sweet’s Syndrome

Updated 3/04/17.

Should you stop smoking if you have Sweet’s syndrome?

Ideally, yes.

If you are diagnosed with Sweet’s syndrome, it is very important to try to stop smoking for the following reasons:

  • Smoking is bad for overall health.
  • Smoking is bad for the skin.
  • Some people with Sweet’s syndrome are taking medication or develop their Sweet’s syndrome secondary to a condition that weakens or severely weakens their immune system. This means that they are more likely to develop infections, and infection can sometimes trigger Sweet’s syndrome. Read more here.
  • Smoking increases your risk of developing a respiratory infection, and upper respiratory tract infection is the commonest infectious trigger for Sweet’s syndrome.

What are upper respiratory tract infections?

Upper respiratory tract infections are illnesses caused by an acute infection which involves the upper respiratory tract: nose, sinuses, pharynx, larynx, and bronchi (airways going into the lungs). They commonly include tonsillitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, otitis media (middle-ear infection), flu, and the common cold.

What are the symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection?

A cough is the most common symptom of an upper respiratory tract infection. Other symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Headaches.
  • Stuffed or runny nose.
  • Sneezing.
  • Sore throat.
  • Muscle aches and pain

The symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection usually pass within one to two weeks.

Smoking is bad for the skin. Why is this?

Smoking is bad for the skin because it can (Simpkin and Oakley, 2016):

  • Speed-up the skin ageing process. Ageing of the skin means that it can sag; develop wrinkles and lines; becomes dry and coarse; have uneven skin colouring; blood vessels can be more prominent.
  • Slow-down wound healing which means that skin injuries and surgical wounds will take longer to heal.
  • Increase your risk of skin or wound infection.
  • Double your risk of skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma), and increase your risk of developing other cancers. 75% of cases of oral cancer and lip cancer occur in smokers.
  • Increase your risk of developing the disabling skin condition, palmoplantar pustulosis, which mainly affects middle-aged women, particularly those who smoke (more than 90% of cases).
  • Increase your risk of developing other skin conditions, e.g. psoriasis, hidradenitis suppurativa and cutaneous lupus erythematosus.
  • Make skin conditions worse and more difficult to treat.
  • Make certain medications less effective, e.g. insulin, analgesics, antipsychotics, and anticoagulants.

Further information.

NHS Choices (2016) Live Well – Stop Smoking (online). Accessed 3/04/17.


Simpkin, S. and Oakley, A. (2016) Smoking and its effects on the skin. DermNet NZ (online). Published in 2010, and updated by Professor A. Oakley in Nov 2016. Accessed on 3/04/17.

© 2012-2017 Sweet’s Syndrome UK


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