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Herpangina in Infants

By Anna Aronson ; Updated June 13, 2017

Herpangina is a viral infection common in early childhood. Most cases are reported in kids between the ages of 1 and 4, but infants are also susceptible to the infection, according to Children's Hospital of Boston. Although herpangina can make a baby uncomfortable and irritable, most cases will resolve on their own in about a week with no complications.


An infant with herpangina will usually develop small, fluid-filled bumps that look like blisters in the mouth and back of the throat, according to Children's Hospital of Boston. A high fever often quickly develops, with temperatures reaching as high as 106 degrees F. Other symptoms include drooling, decrease in appetite, headaches and pain in the mouth and throat, where lesions are present.


Herpangina is a viral infection. Several viruses can cause the condition, most commonly a coxsackie virus or an echovirus, Children's Hospital of Boston reports. Enteroviruses can also cause the condition. Unlike many other common childhood viruses, cases of herpangina are most commonly reported in summer and fall. The infection is contagious, so your baby is more likely to get it if he has a sibling with it or if another child at his child-care center is ill.


No formal diagnostic test is available to diagnose an infant with herpangina. Instead, your baby's pediatrician will likely examine her lesions to make a diagnosis. Because the lesions are particular in appearance to herpangina, their presence typically is sufficient for a diagnosis, according to MedlinePlus. Another similar childhood infection--hand, foot and mouth disease--can also cause blister-like lesions in the mouth, but children with this condition also typically develop lesions on the hands and feet, KidsHealth reports.


No drugs are available to clear a herpangina infection. Instead, the goal is to treat the symptoms and make your baby comfortable until the infection clears. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen for infants can help lower your child's fever and also relieve some of the pain caused by the infection, MedlinePlus reports. However, remember never to give aspirin to a child with a fever because of the risk of Reye's syndrome. You should also try to increase your baby's fluid intake to prevent dehydration, which can result when a child has a high fever.


Like many other viruses, herpangina is contagious and can easily be spread to others. If your baby has the illness, it is important to take precautions to prevent it from spreading. For example, your child should be kept home from daycare until he is well, KidsHealth advises. You should also be sure to wash your hands frequently throughout the day while your child is sick. Also be sure to wipe down surfaces your baby has come into contact with.

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