Herpangina is a viral illness that involves ulcers and sores (lesions) inside the mouth, a sore throat, and fever.

See also: Hand, foot, and mouth disease


Herpangina is a common childhood infection. It is most often seen in children ages 3 - 10, but it can occur in any age group.

It is typically caused by Coxsackie group A viruses. These viruses are contagious. Your child is at risk for herpangina if someone at school or home has the illness.


The ulcers usually have a white to whitish-gray base and a red border. They may be very painful. Generally, there are only a few sores.

Exams and Tests

Tests are not normally necessary.Your doctor can usually diagnose this condition by performing a physical exam and asking questions about the child's symptoms and medical history.


The symptoms are treated as necessary:

Outlook (Prognosis)

The illness normally clears up within a week.

Possible Complications

Dehydration is the most common complication, but it can be treated by your doctor.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:


Good handwashing practices can help prevent the spread of the viruses that lead to this infection.


Abzug MJ. Nonpolio enteroviruses. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 242.

Review Date: 8/2/2011
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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