Herpangina

  • Medical Author:
    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Herpangina Symptoms and Signs

Mouth Sores

Sores or localized abnormalities inside the mouth can arise from a number of causes. Mouth sores can occur on the tongue, gums, lips, or inside the cheeks.

Herpangina facts

  • Herpangina is a self-limited infection primarily caused by coxsackievirus.
  • Herpangina most often affects young children.
  • Herpangina is associated with fever, sore throat, and blisters in the back of the mouth.
  • Herpangina is diagnosed based on clinical symptoms alone.
  • Treatment of herpangina is usually directed toward minimizing the discomfort associated with the mouth blisters.
  • Most children with herpangina recover completely after four to seven days.
  • There is no easy way to prevent herpangina.

What is herpangina?

Herpangina is an acute, virally induced, self-limited illness often seen in young children during the summer months. Affected children usually complain of mouth sores and fever. It is caused by a number of viruses, all part of the enterovirus family, coxsackievirus being the most common. Most children develop a high fever and complain of a sore throat. They then develop vesicles (blisters) or ulcers (sores) at the back of the throat and palate (also called an enanthem). Children, especially younger children, may refuse to eat or drink because of the pain and are at risk for developing signs and symptoms of dehydration.

What causes herpangina?

Several common Coxsackie A viruses can cause herpangina, although a number of other enteroviruses have also been implicated. The viruses are usually spread via the "fecal-oral route" (contamination of hands and other surfaces with fecal matter) or via the "respiratory route" (air droplets from coughing or sneezing). Contact with mucous of an individual infected with one of these viruses is usually all that is needed to contract the illness. In fact, half of individuals infected with some of these enteroviruses remain asymptomatic (having no symptoms) throughout, which makes preventing transmission more difficult.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/21/2015

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