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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Fox-Fordyce disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • Apocrine miliaria
  • Fox-Fordyce syndrome
  • Miliaria, apocrine
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Your Question

How is Fox-Fordyce disease treated? Are there over-the-counter drugs that will help? What can I do for maintanence?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is Fox-Fordyce disease?

Fox-Fordyce disease is a chronic skin disease most common in women aged 13-35 years.[1] It is characterized by the development of intense itching in the underarm area, the pubic area, and around the nipple of the breast as a result of  perspiration which becomes trapped in the sweat gland and surrounding areas.[2]  The cause is unknown, but heat, humidity, and stress appear to be exacerbating factors. Retinoids, antibiotics, and immunosuppressants have had limited success in controlling the symptoms.[1] 
Last updated: 4/25/2011

How might Fox-Fordyce disease be treated?

Individuals with Fox-Fordyce disease should consult with a dematologist regarding treatment. Topical retinoids and steroids, antibiotics, clindamycin in alcoholic propylene glycol solution, hormonal therapy, ultraviolet light, dermabrasion, and surgical excision have all been tried with limited success. These therapies are not usually curative and are often complicated by intolerable irritation. More recently, immunosuppressants have been utilized with modest success. Pimecrolimus and tacrolimus, both with significant anti-inflammatory activity and low side-effects, have provided rapid improvement in a limited number of cases.[1]


Last updated: 3/30/2009

How can Fox-Fordyce disease be managed in the long-term?

Fox-Fordyce disease is a chronic condition. Once relief has been achieved, long-term, low-dose therapy is recommended. Individuals with Fox-Fordyce disease should avoid activities that can lead to sweating.[1]
Last updated: 3/30/2009

Are there over-the-counter medications which can help manage Fox-Fordyce disease?

After an extensive search of the resources currently available, there are no reports of over-the-counter medications which have been used to manage this condition. We recommend that you consult with a dermatologist for further information regarding treatment of Fox-Fordyce disease.
Last updated: 3/30/2009