10 myths about Sweet’s syndrome

Myth no.1: Sweet’s syndrome is a condition that is caused by eating too much sugar or is something to do with diabetes.

Fact: Sweet’s syndrome or acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis is nothing to do with sugar or diabetes. It is a rare autoinflammatory condition and neutrophilic dermatosis. It is called Sweet’s syndrome because it was a Dr. Robert Sweet who first described the condition in 1964. Read more here.

Myth no.2: Sweet’s syndrome is an autoimmune condition.

Fact: Sweet’s syndrome is an autoinflammatory and not an autoimmune condition. These conditions are similar, but involve different parts of the immune system. Read more here.

Myth no.3: Sweet’s syndrome only affects the skin.

Fact: Skin lesions are usually one of the main symptoms of Sweet’s syndrome. However, Sweet’s syndrome doesn’t just affect the skin, but causes lots of other symptoms too. Sometimes, it can make a person seriously ill, and on rare occasions may be life-threatening. Read more here.

Myth no.4: People with Sweet’s syndrome only have skin problems because of poor hygiene.

Fact: In people with Sweet’s syndrome, the skin lesions are caused by the activation of inflammatory cells, mainly white blood cells called neutrophils. They are not caused by poor hygiene. Read more here.

Myth no.5: Sweet’s syndrome is contagious.

Fact: Sweet’s syndrome is not an infection, so cannot be ‘caught’. See Myth no.1 & 2.

Myth no.6: If people with Sweet’s syndrome spent more time in the sun then their skin problems would go away.

Fact: Even though exposure to sunlight might be beneficial to people with certain conditions affecting the skin, in some people with Sweet’s syndrome, overexposure to sunlight or ultraviolet (UV) light can trigger the development of new skin lesions. Read more here.

Myth no.7: Skin problems in people with Sweet’s syndrome can be treated with essential oils.

Fact: In some people with Sweet’s syndrome, trying to treat the skin lesions with essential oils could irritate the skin and make things worse. This is because of pathergy, i.e. when skin damage or irritation triggers the development of new lesions. Read more here.

Myth no.8: Sweet’s syndrome is caused by diet or dietary toxins, e.g. gluten or dairy.

Fact: Sweet’s syndrome is not caused by diet or dietary toxins, and cannot be treated or cured with a special diet. It is caused by errors in a part of the immune system called the innate system, and involves factors such as genetic susceptibility, cytokine dysregulation, and hypersensitivity reaction (not the same as allergic reaction). Read more here.

Myth no.9: Boosting the immune system will cure Sweet’s syndrome.

Fact: In people with Sweet’s syndrome, the innate immune system is overactive and not underactive. Boosting the immune system, i.e. increasing immune system activity, will not help, and might even make symptoms worse if the Sweet’s syndrome has developed secondary to an autoimmune condition. Read more here.

Myth no.10: You only have Sweet’s syndrome because you get stressed.

Fact: At present, there is no evidence to prove that Sweet’s syndrome is directly caused by stress. See Myth 1, 2, 4, 8 & 9. Some people find that their Sweet’s syndrome gets worse when they are stressed, but this could be happening for a number of different reasons, including steroid medication being reduced or stopped.

© 2012-2017 Sweet’s Syndrome UK


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