Herpangina In Children: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, And Prevention

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Herpangina in kids is a common viral illness caused by coxsackieviruses. It causes tiny, blister-like bumps or ulcers (sores) in the roof of the mouth or at the back of the throat accompanied by fever. Children aged one to four are more likely to develop herpangina, especially in fall and summer (1). Herpangina is treated like other viral illnesses, and most children feel better within a week.

Read on to know about the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of herpangina in children.

Causes Of Herpangina In Children

The common viruses that may cause herpangina are as follows (2). These viruses are contagious.

  • Coxsackievirus A16 and A6
  • Coxsackie B virus
  • Enterovirus A71
  • Echovirus

Symptoms Of Herpangina In Children

Symptoms of herpangina might differ from one child to another. The following are the common symptoms of herpangina in children (1) (2)

  • Blisters in the mouth, back of the throat, and the roof of the mouth.
  • Sudden onset of fever
  • High fever (may rise till 1060 F)
  • Headache
  • Drooling
  • Decreased appetite
  • Pain in the mouth or the throat
  • Neck pain
  • Fussiness or irritability (3)
  • Malaise (a general feeling of discomfort)

You should contact your child’s doctor if you notice the following signs (4).

  • Fever, sore throat, or mouth sores pertaining beyond five days.
  • The child is unable to drink fluids and looks dehydrated
  • High fever that does not subside

The sores of herpangina have a distinct appearance. Therefore, the doctor will diagnose herpangina in your child with a complete physical examination and medical history (4).

Treatment For Herpangina In Children

Herpangina treatment depends on the child’s symptoms, age, overall health, and severity of the condition. The goal of the treatment is to help ease the symptoms, as the disease takes around a week to subside. The doctor may advise one or more of the following (4):

  • Hydration: It is essential to consume more fluids to prevent dehydration. Non-citrus fruit popsicles can offer hydration and ease the discomfort. Hot beverages and fruit juices are not recommended as they may irritate the blisters.
  • Acetaminophen or paracetamol for fever: Your pediatrician will prescribe the correct dosage of fever medications based on the child’s age and body weight.
  • Oral pain relievers: Pain reliever lozenges can provide relief from blisters.
  • Saltwater rinses: Warm water and salt rinse several times a day could help. Ensure the water is warm and not hot.
  • Healthy diet: The child should eat a healthy diet of light, liquid, or semisolid foods. Bland food, such as milk, popsicles, ice cream, yogurt, vegetables, and non-citrus fruits can help. They should avoid hot, salty, sharp, fried, spicy, and citrus food. Some children might experience appetite loss, and in this case, you should give calorie-rich food.

Complications Of Herpangina In Children

Herpangina is a mild condition, but the underlying causes, such as infection due to enterovirus 71, may result in complications such as (5):

  • Brain stem encephalitis, a rare inflammatory disease of the brainstem (6).
  • Acute flaccid paralysis, a serious neurological condition that happens due to the inflammation of the spinal cord (7).
  • Aseptic meningitis, an illness characterized by serious inflammation of the meninges (lining) of the brain (8).
  • Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle (9).

In the above cases, children may need critical care and hospitalization.

Prevention Of Herpangina In Children

Frequent handwashing with soap and water can help prevent herpangina in children. If your child is ill, keep them indoors and avoid sending them to school or outdoors. It will help in controlling the spread of infection (3).

Major complications following a herpangina infection are rare. Medications such as pain relievers are prescribed in rare cases. If your child has contracted the infection, contact your child’s healthcare provider and isolate them from other children at home, school, and neighborhood to prevent the spread of the infection.


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Dr. Garima Garg Seth

Dr. Garima Garg Seth is a well-known pediatrician in Gurgaon, having more than 19 years of experience in this field. She has completed her education from topmost organizations in India, including AIIMS, New Delhi; Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi; and CMC Vellore. She headed the pediatric ICU of Max Hospital Gurgaon for six years.  Dr. Seth is a strong... more

Dr. Ritika Shah

Dr. Ritika Shah is a dental surgeon with more than seven years of clinical experience across various cities in India. During her clinical practice, pediatric dentistry was her particular area of interest, and she constantly thrived to inculcate the latest advancements in the field of dentistry into her practice. Dr. Shah's deep interest in the well-being of babies and children... more