What is Herpangina in Babies and Children?

Herpangina is an infectious disease that occurs primarily in babies and children under the age of 7 years. Healing with few complications usually takes place on its own.

What is herpangina?

Herpangina in babies and children is a viral infectious disease in which the palate and throat are locally infected. Doctors also refer to herpangina in babies and children as Zahorsky’s disease.

Herpangina usually occurs more frequently during the summer and autumn months. Especially in public facilities such as crèches or kindergartens, there is usually an increased risk that herpangina will spread among babies and children during these times.

Externally visible signs of a herpangina that may be present are blistering inflammation of the mucous membranes. Other symptoms that can occur in connection with herpangina in babies and children are, for example, headaches, fever of up to 40°C and sore throat, which are accompanied by difficulty swallowing.


The cause of herpangina, which can occur in babies and children, is an infection with the so-called Coxackie virus. Herpangina can be transmitted to babies and children both via droplet infection and smear infection.

This means that viruses from babies and children infected with herpangina can initially be transmitted to other children via secretions from the throat and nose. Since the viruses responsible for herpangina are also excreted in the stool of infected children, herpangina can also occur in babies and children through contact with excretions.

There is a risk of infection from other children suffering from herpangina until the disease has healed.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

After an incubation period of about two to six days, herpangina causes the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat to swell. The affected area is very red. Two to three millimeter large, dark red bordered blisters form. These soon develop into flat, painful and inflamed ulcers that are particularly sensitive to acids.

In most cases, only the palatine arch is affected. In rare cases, blisters form on the tonsils, buccal mucosa, gums and tongue. The lips and the floor of the mouth are not affected. Overall, the maximum number of 20 bubbles is not exceeded. The throat hurts and usually feels furry. The affected children often have difficulty swallowing. This can also lead to refusal to eat.

Symptoms such as loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain also occur. Often there is also a general feeling of illness, headaches and exhaustion. A rapid increase in fever up to 40 °C is typical of herpangina. However, the fever subsides after just one day. In rare cases it lasts for a few days. Herpangina usually heals by itself within seven days. The mouth and throat areas affected by the blisters recover completely within two weeks.

Diagnosis & History

An existing herpangina disease can often be suspected in babies and children based on the typical symptoms that occur. In addition to the symptoms mentioned, such as inflammatory blisters, headaches and difficulty swallowing, herpangina in babies and children can manifest itself through a general feeling of illness, abdominal pain, nausea and/or loss of appetite.

To secure the diagnosis of herpangina, the triggering virus can also be found in the throat or in the stool of an infected baby or child; however, this is usually not necessary.

The course of herpangina in babies and children is usually free of complications; the disease heals on its own after two weeks at the latest; Herpangina usually only lasts a few days. Occasionally, blisters that appear in herpangina can develop into ulcers that can be painful.


Herpangina in babies and children does not usually cause any special complications or symptoms. In most cases, the disease heals on its own, so that no medical treatment is necessary. This primarily leads to severe swelling of the mucous membrane in the throat and mouth. This also causes swallowing difficulties, which can lead to a refusal to eat.

The patient’s intake of fluids is also usually limited, which can lead to deficiency symptoms and dehydration. Especially in children, the physical and mental development of the child is greatly slowed down by these complaints. Fever also occurs and the affected person usually suffers from tiredness and exhaustion.

It is not uncommon for headaches to occur, which can lead to irritability, especially in children. A special treatment of herpangina in babies and children is not necessary. The symptoms can be alleviated with the help of painkillers or throat tablets. Furthermore, the child must rest. After a few days, the symptoms will disappear on their own.

When should you go to the doctor?

A doctor’s visit is necessary if the child exhibits very abnormal behavior. Tearfulness, apathy, listlessness or a particularly aggressive demeanor should be examined.

If there is redness or blistering on the mucous membranes in the mouth or on the gums, a doctor should clarify the abnormalities. If teeth cleaning is refused or if the child complains of pain, this should be checked. If you experience symptoms such as vomiting, nausea or an increased body temperature, consult a doctor.

A medical examination is required as soon as the symptoms persist for several days and increase in intensity. If the baby or child refuses to eat, there is cause for concern. A doctor should be consulted as soon as weight loss occurs or if no liquid has been consumed for a long period of time. With internal dryness, the risk of dehydration increases and thus the risk of a life-threatening condition increases.

A doctor is needed if you have a persistent headache, abdominal pain, or sore throat. If the child has trouble swallowing, is hoarse or no longer speaks, a doctor is needed. A doctor should be consulted in the event of insomnia, a decrease in concentration or problems with attention. If the participation in social life decreases and the child shows a general weakness, a doctor’s visit is necessary.

Treatment & Therapy

Medical treatment of herpangina is not necessary in many cases. However, severe symptoms that occur in connection with herpangina in babies and children can be alleviated using various measures: High fever in herpangina can be reduced by administering antipyretic drugs.

In the case of severe sore throats that can occur during a herpangina, lozenges can alleviate the symptoms. Mouthwashes, for example, can be used against inflammatory processes in the oral mucosa in connection with herpangina, which promote the easing of the inflammation.

Measures that can support the healing of herpangina in babies and children at home include, for example, protecting the infected baby or child and as much bed rest as possible. In order to ensure an adequate intake of liquid and food even in the case of severe swallowing difficulties that can occur as part of a herpangina, the administration of soft food and liquids that do not cause a burning sensation on the mucous membranes is often recommended (as is the case, for example, with fruit juices or.fruit can happen).

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis of herpangina in babies and children is usually favorable. The disease usually heals within a few days or weeks without further complications or secondary diseases.

Often medical care is not given to the infant or child because it is not needed. This applies in particular to patients who show only a few symptoms and the progression of the disease has already stagnated within a few hours or days. Depending on the severity of the disease, painful symptoms or skin changes can still occur in the patient.

Since they have a negative impact on the general well-being of the child, parents and doctors often decide that there is a need for action. The symptoms that have occurred are treated with medication. After a short time, the symptoms are relieved and the disease gradually heals.

Patients suffering from other diseases at the same time may experience delays in the healing process. Since the child’s immune system is not yet fully developed, it is overburdened and contributes to a slow recovery. Nevertheless, the prognosis of herpangina does not change overall. It remains cheap.

In addition to drug treatment, the choice of food intake can support the healing process. This improves the child’s general well-being and strengthens the body’s own defense system.


Herpangina in babies and children can be prevented by avoiding direct physical contact with infected babies or children as much as possible. Hygienic measures can also help to reduce the risk of a smear infection of herpangina.


In most cases, no special follow-up care is necessary for herpangina in babies and children. Usually this is also not possible. It is a mild infectious disease, which can also heal on its own, so that a visit to a doctor is not always necessary. However, the parents of the affected child should recognize the symptoms and signs of the disease at an early stage and consult a doctor if it continues to worsen.

In most cases, the life expectancy of the child is not reduced by this disease. Treatment is usually accomplished by taking medication. Parents should constantly monitor the child’s body temperature and administer antipyretics if the fever is high.

If anything is unclear or you have questions, it is advisable to always consult a doctor first so that there are no interactions or unwanted side effects. In general, patients with herpangina in babies and children are dependent on strict bed rest. There should be no strenuous or physical activity. You should also make sure you drink enough fluids to avoid problems in the mouth.

You can do that yourself

Parents with herpangina can support their children in many ways. Since the administration of antibiotics is not indicated in the case of a viral infection, only the symptoms are treated.

The child’s organism has to fight the virus itself. Sufficient fluid intake is important in the case of a high fever. What the child likes is allowed. Ideally, still mineral water or unsweetened herbal tea are drunk. Temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius can be reduced with calf wraps or full-body cooling in the bathtub. However, a stable circuit is absolutely necessary.

Mouthwash solutions are effective for treating blisters in the mouth and throat: these can be purchased ready-made in pharmacies or are easy to make yourself. Infusions of sage or chamomile are recommended. They have a germicidal and astringent effect. Sugar-free lozenges made from sage or cistus can be given to older children.

Irritating foods and drinks such as fruit juices and coarse, spicy foods should be avoided. A strengthening chicken broth with noodles, on the other hand, has a beneficial effect and is easy to consume. Physical protection is also important so that the organism can concentrate on the healing process.

In the case of herpangina, homeopathy recommends Acidum muriaticum C30 for the skin rashes and Rhus toxicodendron C9, which is primarily indicated for itching. Mercurius corrosivus supports the healing of inflammatory processes in the mucous membranes.

Herpangina in Babies and Children