Fox-Fordyce Disease

Fox-Fordyce Disease is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Clinical Consult.

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A rare chronic pruritic skin condition involving apocrine glands. Named for the physicians who first described it (1); also known as apocrine duct occlusion or apocrine miliaria; caused by destruction of follicular infundibulum with keratin debris


A rare condition without geographic, ethnic, or racial predilection. Approximately 90% of patients are women between the ages of 13 and 35 years. 10 times more common to occur in women than men. Incidence of the disorder is unknown.

Etiology and Pathophysiology

  • A defect in the follicular infundibulum causes follicular dilation with keratin plugging. This results in apocrine duct obstruction, rupture, and inflammation (2,3), which causes extravasation of the apocrine secretions.
  • Although blockage of the apocrine duct seems important in disease development, experimentally plugging the duct has not clinically reproduced disease manifestations.
  • Unknown/possibly endocrine related

  • The genetics of Fox-Fordyce are unknown but likely play in role. There have been reports of the disease occurring in identical male twins, one set of siblings, in a father and daughter, in two patients with Turner syndrome, and in one patient with a small deletion on chromosome 21.
  • Hormones
    • The role of hormones in Fox-Fordyce has been largely debated (1); disease onset after puberty and improvement with pregnancy and estrogens lends support to a hormonal influence.
    • However, hormonal studies in one patient with Fox-Fordyce did not reveal any abnormalities.

Commonly Associated Conditions

  • Possibly related to hyperhidrosis
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa (rare)

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