Auriculotemporal Frey syndrome not associated with surgery or diabetes: systematic review

Eur J Pediatr. 2022 May;181(5):2127-2134. doi: 10.1007/s00431-022-04415-w. Epub 2022 Feb 19.


Patients who undergo salivary gland, neck, or facelift surgery or suffer from diabetes mellitus often develop Frey syndrome (also known as auriculotemporal syndrome or gustatory sweating). Frey syndrome has been occasionally reported to occur in subjects without history of surgery or diabetes but this variant of Frey syndrome has not been systematically investigated. We searched for original articles of Frey syndrome unrelated to surgery or diabetes without date and language restriction. Article selection and data extraction were performed in duplicate. Our systematic review included 76 reports describing 121 individual cases (67 males and 54 females) of Frey syndrome not associated with surgery or diabetes. The age at onset of symptoms was ≤ 18 years in 113 (93%) cases. The time to diagnosis was 12 months or more in 55 (45%) cases. On the other hand, an allergy evaluation was performed in half of the cases. A possible cause for Frey syndrome was detected in 85 (70%) cases, most frequently history of forceps birth (N = 63; 52%). The majority of the remaining 22 cases occurred after a blunt face trauma, following an auriculotemporal nerve neuritis or in association with a neurocutaneous syndrome. The cause underlying Frey syndrome was unknown in 36 cases. Conclusion: Frey syndrome not associated with surgery or diabetes almost exclusively affects subjects in pediatric age and is uncommon and underrecognized. Most cases occur after forceps birth. There is a need to expand awareness of this pseudo-allergic reaction among pediatricians and allergists. What is Known: • Pre-auricular reddening, sweating, and warmth in response to mastication or a salivary stimulus characterize Frey syndrome. • It usually occurs after salivary gland surgery and in diabetes. What is New: • In children, Frey syndrome is rare, and most cases occur after a forceps-assisted birth. • In childhood, this condition is often erroneously attributed to food allergy.

Keywords: Auriculotemporal syndrome; Forceps birth; Frey syndrome; Gustatory sweating; Pseudo-allergic reaction.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus*
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck
  • Sweating, Gustatory* / diagnosis
  • Sweating, Gustatory* / etiology