Herpangina can cause symptoms in children similar to those of hand, foot, and mouth disease or ulcers. Since it’s a viral disease, antibiotics won’t work. Instead, treatments focus on managing any symptoms.
Herpangina is a common childhood illness caused by a virus. It’s 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.
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.
- sudden onset of fever
- sore throat
- neck pain
- swollen lymph glands
- difficulty in swallowing
- loss of appetite
- drooling (in infants)
- vomiting (in infants)
Small 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.
- a fever that is over 103°F (39°C) or that doesn’t go away
- mouth sores or a sore throat that lasts for more than five days
- symptoms of dehydration, such as
The most common complication of herpangina is dehydration. Proper care and attention to regular hydration can help prevent this.
- belly pain or nausea
- ulcers in the mouth, on tonsils, or on the soft palate
- loss of appetite
- excessive fussiness
- being drowsy
- sore throat
Serious complications, like liver failure, can occur in babies. A herpangina infection may increase the baby’s risk of other, more serious issues, such as swelling of the brain and an infection of the meninges, or the tissues that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord. Herpangina is rarely fatal, but when it is, it’s usually in infants under one year.
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.
Certain anesthetics, such as lidocaine, can provide relief for a sore throat and any other mouth pain associated with herpangina. With treatment, symptoms should disappear within seven days with no lasting effects. If the symptoms worsen or linger longer than 10 days, you should see your doctor again.
A daily mouth rinse made with warm water and salt may relieve pain and sensitivity in the mouth and throat. You can use the rinse as often as you need.
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.
Spicy, crunchy, fried, salty, or acidic foods may make the pain and discomfort you’re experiencing worse. Instead, eat soft, bland foods until the ulcers are healed. These foods could include:
- dairy products
Proper handwashing is vital to preventing the virus from spreading. Children and adults should all practice effective handwashing techniques. Common shared surfaces, such as door knobs, remote controls, and drawer pulls or fridge door handles, should be wiped clean until the virus has run its course in every member of the family.