Herpangina

What is herpangina?

Herpangina is a viral infection. The virus that causes this condition is called Coxsackievirus. It most commonly affects children under the age of 10, although it can affect people of all ages. It causes small, blister-like spots and, later, ulcers on the roof of the mouth and in the back of the throat. Herpangina also causes fever, sore throat, headache and neck pain. The infection normally gets better within 10 days without specific treatment.

Risks

Herpangina is caused by a virus from the group A Coxsackieviruses. These are spread from one person to another in saliva droplets (released when coughing or sneezing, or by sharing plates and cups), or by accidental contact with fecal matter. The virus can survive several days on surfaces and objects touched by someone with the infection. It is more common during the summer months. This condition typically affects children under the age of 10, but can occur in newborns, adolescents and young adults too.

Symptoms

The most common symptom is a collection of blisters or ulcers on the roof of the mouth and back of the throat. People with herpangina may also have a high fever, loss of appetite, sore throat, headaches and neck pain.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is made by a doctor assessing symptoms and examining the mouth, throat and skin. Special diagnostic tests are not necessary.

Treatment

Treatment of this condition aims to treat the symptoms. People with herpangina should stay at home and take plenty of fluids. Simple pain relief, such as paracetamol, is helpful for headaches, and drinking warm fluids or sucking lozenges can help with a sore throat. There is no specific medication to treat the Coxsackie A virus.

Prevention

Good hygiene practices, including regular hand washing and staying home when sick, are the best ways to prevent this infection.

Other names for herpangina

  • Enteroviral vesicular pharyngitis