What Is Herpangina?
Herpangina is a common childhood illness
caused by a virus. It is characterized by small, blister-like ulcers on the
roof of the mouth and in the back of the throat. The infection may also cause a
sudden fever, sore throat, headache, and neck pain.
is similar to hand-foot-mouth disease (HFM), another type of viral infection that
commonly affects children. Both conditions are caused by enteroviruses. Enteroviruses are a
group of viruses that typically affect the gastrointestinal tract but sometimes
spread to other parts of the body. Normally, the body’s immune system produces
antibodies to fight off infection. Antibodies are proteins that recognize and
destroy harmful substances, such as viruses and bacteria. However, infants and
young children are less likely to have the appropriate antibodies because they haven’t
developed them yet. This makes them more susceptible to enteroviruses.
groups of viruses that cause herpangina are very contagious. Luckily, the
symptoms are treatable and usually clear up within seven to 10 days.
What Are the Symptoms of
symptoms of herpangina vary from person to person, but can include:
- sudden onset of fever
- sore throat
- neck pain
- swollen lymph glands
- difficulty in swallowing
- loss of appetite
- drooling (in infants)
- vomiting (in infants)
ulcers in the back of the mouth and throat begin to appear about two days after
the initial infection. They tend to be light gray and often have a red border.
The ulcers usually heal within seven days.
should contact your doctor right away if you have:
- a fever that is over 106°F or that doesn’t go away
- mouth sores or a sore throat that lasts for more than five
- symptoms of dehydration, such as
- dry mouth
- lack of tears
- decreased urine
- dark urine
- sunken eyes
What Causes Herpangina?
is usually caused by group A coxsackieviruses. However, it can also be caused
by group B coxsackieviruses, enterovirus 71, and echovirus. These viruses
are highly contagious and can easily spread from person to person, especially
in schools and childcare centers. People who are infected with herpangina are
most contagious during the first week of infection.
is typically transmitted through contact with fecal matter. The infection may
also be spread through contact with droplets from an infected person’s sneeze
or cough. This means that you can get herpangina if you touch your mouth after
touching something that’s contaminated with fecal particles or droplets from an
infected person. The virus can live on surfaces and objects, such as countertops
and toys, for several days.
Who Is at Risk for
can affect anyone, but it most commonly occurs in children under age 5. It’s particularly
common in children who attend school, childcare facilities, or camps. In the
United States, the risk of developing herpangina is higher during the summer
How Is Herpangina
the ulcers caused by herpangina are unique, your doctor can usually diagnose this
condition by performing a physical exam. They will also review your symptoms
and medical history. Special diagnostic tests usually aren’t necessary.
How Is Herpangina Treated?
primary goal of treatment is to reduce and manage symptoms, especially the pain.
Your specific treatment plan will depend on a variety of factors, including
your age, symptoms, and tolerance for certain medications. Since herpangina is
a viral infection, antibiotics aren’t an effective form of treatment. Instead,
your doctor may recommend:
- Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: These
medications can ease any discomfort and reduce fever. Do not use aspirin to treat
symptoms of a viral infection in children or teenagers. This has been linked to
Reye’s syndrome, a life-threatening illness that results in sudden swelling and
inflammation in the liver and brain.
- Topical anesthetics: Certain anesthetics, such as lidocaine, can provide
relief for a sore throat and any other mouth pain associated with herpangina.
- Increased fluid intake: It’s important to drink plenty of
fluids during recovery, especially cold milk and water. Eating popsicles can
also help soothe a sore throat. Avoid citrus drinks and hot beverages, as they
may make symptoms worse.
treatment, symptoms should disappear within seven days with no lasting effects.
How Can Herpangina Be
good hygiene is the best way to prevent herpangina. You should always wash your
hands thoroughly, especially before meals and after using the restroom. It’s
also important to cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing to
prevent the spread of germs. Teach your children to do the same.
caring for a child with herpangina, you should wash your hands frequently,
especially after coming in contact with soiled diapers or mucus. Clean any
surfaces, toys, and other objects with a disinfectant to kill germs. You should
also keep your child out of school or daycare for a few days to avoid spreading
the infection to others.