Herpangina in Children

What is herpangina in children?

Herpangina is a sudden viral illness in children. It causes small blister-like bumps or sores (ulcers) in the mouth. They are often in the back of the throat or the roof of the mouth.

Herpangina is often seen in children between the ages 3 and 10. It is seen most often in the summer and fall.

What causes herpangina in a child?

Herpangina is caused by a virus. The most common viruses that cause it are:

  • Coxsackie viruses A and B

  • Enterovirus 71

  • Echovirus

What are the symptoms of herpangina in a child?

Each child's symptoms may feel a bit different. But below are the most common symptoms of herpangina:

  • Blister-like bumps in the mouth, often in the back of the throat and on the roof of the mouth

  • Headache

  • Sudden fever

  • High fever, sometimes up to 106°F (41°C)

  • Pain in the mouth or throat

  • Drooling

  • Decrease in appetite

  • Neck pain

How is herpangina diagnosed in a child?

Your child’s healthcare provider can diagnose herpangina with a complete health history and physical exam of your child. The sores look different from other sores. They are often easy to identify.

How is herpangina treated in a child?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

The goal of treatment is to help ease symptoms. Herpangina is a viral infection. So antibiotics don't work to treat the illness. Treatment may include:

  • Drinking more fluids

  • Taking acetaminophen for any fever

  • Taking oral pain relievers, such as lozenges

  • Eating a bland diet, such as cold milk and ice cream. Your child should stay away from acidic and spicy foods.

Most children with the illness feel better in about a week. It's important that your child drinks enough fluids to prevent getting dehydrated.

How can I help prevent herpangina in my child?

Correct handwashing can help prevent the illness from being spread to other children.

Key points about herpangina in children

  • Herpangina is an acute viral illness in children.

  • Common symptoms are small blister-like bumps or sores (ulcers) in the mouth and fever.

  • It is caused by a virus. The most common ones are coxsackie viruses A and B.

  • Treatment may include fluids and medicine for fever and pain.

  • Correct handwashing can prevent the spread of herpangina.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.

  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.

  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.

  • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.

  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.

  • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.

  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.

  • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.