Kawasaki disease

Kawasaki disease is a condition that causes inflammation in the walls of medium-sized arteries throughout the body, including the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle. Kawasaki disease is also called mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome because it also affects lymph nodes, skin, and the mucous membranes inside the mouth, nose and throat.

Signs of Kawasaki disease, such as a high fever and peeling skin, can be frightening. The good news is that Kawasaki disease is usually treatable, and most children recover from Kawasaki disease without serious problems.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Kawasaki disease symptoms appear in phases.

First phase

Signs and symptoms of the first phase may include:

  • Fever which often is higher than 102.2 F (39 C) and lasts more than five days
  • Extremely red eyes (conjunctivitis) without a thick discharge
  • A rash on the main part of the body (trunk) and in the genital area
  • Red, dry, cracked lips and an extremely red, swollen tongue (strawberry tongue)
  • Swollen, red skin on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck and perhaps elsewhere
  • Irritability

Second phase

In the second phase of the disease, your child may develop:

  • Peeling of the skin on the hands and feet, especially the tips of the fingers and toes, often in large sheets
  • Joint pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Third phase

In the third phase of the disease, signs and symptoms slowly go away unless complications develop. It may be as long as eight weeks before energy levels seem normal again.

When to see a doctor

If your child has a fever that lasts more than four days, contact your child's doctor. Or see your child's doctor if your child has a fever along with four or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Redness in both eyes
  • A very red, swollen tongue
  • Redness of the palms or soles
  • Skin peeling
  • A rash
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Treating Kawasaki disease within 10 days of its onset may greatly reduce the chances of lasting damage.

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