The symptoms of Kawasaki disease usually develop in 3 phases over a 6-week period.
Important: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
At the moment it can be hard to know what to do if your child is unwell.
It's important to trust your instincts and get medical help if you need it.
Phase 1: acute (weeks 1 to 2)
Your child's symptoms will appear suddenly and may be severe. Your child may be very irritable.
The first and most common symptom of Kawasaki disease is usually a high temperature.
The high temperature can come on quickly and doesn't respond to antibiotics or medicines like ibuprofen or paracetamol.
Your child's high temperature will usually last for at least 5 days, but it can last for around 11 days without the proper treatment for Kawasaki disease.
Rarely, the high temperature can last for as long as 3 to 4 weeks.
Your child's body temperature could possibly reach a high of 40C.
Your child will almost always have a skin rash. This can vary in appearance from child to child.
Read more about skin rashes in children.
Hands and feet
Your child’s hands and feet may swell up, and the skin on their hands and feet may become red or hard.
Your child may feel their hands and feet are tender and painful to touch or put weight on, so they may be reluctant to walk or crawl while these symptoms persist.
Conjunctival injection is where the whites of the eyes become red and swollen. Both eyes are usually affected, but the condition isn't painful.
Unlike conjunctivitis, where the thin layer of cells that cover the white part of the eye (conjunctiva) becomes inflamed, fluid doesn't leak from the eyes in conjunctival injection.
Lips, mouth, throat and tongue
Your child's lips may be red, dry or cracked. They may also swell up and peel or bleed.
The inside of your child's mouth and throat may also be inflamed.
Their tongue may be red, swollen and covered in small lumps. This is known as "strawberry tongue".
Swollen lymph glands
If you gently feel your child's neck, you may be able to feel swollen lumps usually on one side. The lumps could be swollen lymph glands.
Read more about the complications of Kawasaki disease.
Phase 2: sub-acute (weeks 2 to 4)
During the sub-acute phase, your child's symptoms will become less severe, but may last a while.
The high temperature should subside, but your child may still be irritable and in considerable pain.
Symptoms during the second phase of Kawasaki disease may include:
Phase 3: convalescent (weeks 4 to 6)
Your child will begin to recover during the third phase of Kawasaki disease, which is known as the convalescent phase.
Their symptoms should begin to improve and all signs of the illness should eventually disappear.
But your child may still have a lack of energy and tire easily during this time.
Page last reviewed: 26 October 2021
Next review due: 26 October 2024