Herpangina is a common and painful mouth infection. Though it can affect adults and adolescents, it primarily develops in young children and infants. Four enteroviruses, which usually affect the gastrointestinal tract, can lead to herpangina. Like many viral infections, herpangina is contagious and spreads easily. Most cases are not serious and do not require medical attention. However, a herpangina infection can lead to dangerous complications.
Though herpangina can have a variety of symptoms, the most common is the growth of small blisters. Typically, four or five blisters appear along the roof and back of the mouth within a couple of days of exposure to the virus. These small pockets of fluid are light gray with red borders and are often extremely painful. As the infection progresses, the blisters become shallow ulcers.
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