What is Kawasaki Disease?

What is Kawasaki Disease?

Kawasaki disease is a rare childhood disease that causes inflammation of the arteries in the body. The characteristic symptoms of the disease, which is high fever and peeling skin, remains for almost a week. In most cases, it gets back to normal without any major issues. Children will be monitored for a few weeks to rule out the risk of any issues to the heart. This disease affects children in the ages between 1-years-old and 2-years-old, and is not common after 8-years-old. Some children show only few of the symptoms of this disease and this condition is referred to as incomplete Kawasaki disease.

Kawasaki disease is not a contagious disease. Although microorganisms, toxins, and genetic factors are all considered to be culprits, the actual cause is not yet known. The disease is more commonly seen during the end of winter and early parts of spring.

The most common symptoms of the disease include:

  • High grade fever that lasts for more than a week
  • Reddish eyes without any discharge
  • Skin rash on areas around the genitals
  • Red, cracked lips
  • Red, swollen tongue, often referred to as strawberry tongue
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Swelling in the skin of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
  • Irritability

These symptoms may often be followed by peeling of large sheets of skin at the tips of the fingers and toes, which when combined with the color and swelling of the skin makes it look scary. In some cases, the child may also develop diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Until any other complications develop, the child may get back to normal state within a few weeks. In very few cases, complications like inflammation of the lining of the heart, joints, and meninges are seen. If the child has any of the symptoms of this disease, it is better to take to the doctor right away as early diagnosis and treatment may help in avoiding any possible heart complications.

High dose of aspirin is given to prevent fever, inflammation and formation of blood clots. Gamma globulin infusion is given intravenously to prevent coronary artery problems. Since there are chances of complications it is better to get the treatment in a hospital. Aspirin may be continued for a few weeks even after getting back home. Hydration of the skin using moisturizers is very important as dry skin is one of the most important problems for the child.