Published on May 12, 2022 and last reviewed on Aug 23, 2022 - 5 min read
Tomato fever is a self-limiting viral disease most commonly seen in young children from age one to nine. Read the article to know more.
Tomato fever is a self-limiting rare viral disease that is a variation of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). It is known to be caused by enteroviruses. In addition, the name “tomato fever” is suggested due to the blister's shape, size, and color. To be precise, the blister mimics the red tomatoes and hence got the name. It also causes red-colored rashes all over the body. However, studies show that children are more affected by this disease than adults.
Tomato flu is a contagious disease that usually spreads among young children from age one to nine. It mainly causes rashes, skin irritation, high-grade fever, dehydration, and blisters on the body. The blister appears red, round, and fluid-filled like a tomato. This is why they call it tomato fever. The exact cause of tomato fever is still under debate, although doctors believe it is a viral infection. Children under five are the most commonly affected among the general population. Hence it may spread fast among small clusters centered on child care centers and primary schools. Tomato fever is not a dangerous disease, although the symptoms can be particularly problematic for young children. Usually, the symptoms resolve in ten days. The illness is rare in adults due to the strong immune system that aids in defending against the virus.
Tomato fever is believed to be caused by a virus. It is still considered to be an unknown type of fever. Some suspect it as an aftereffect of certain diseases spread by mosquito bites, such as Chikungunya (a viral infection causing fever and joint inflammation) or dengue fever (a viral infection causing fever, rashes, and body pain). Blisters of tomato fever are often confused with that of chickenpox. But one should note that chickenpox eruptions do not develop under the palms and feet. In contrast, one affected by tomato flu may get blisters under the palms and feet. It is more related to another viral infection in children known as hand, foot, and mouth disease caused by the Coxsackie virus. One may develop similar blisters under the palms, feet, and inside the mouth in hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Fatigue and severe body pain.
Loss of appetite.
Dehydration (low water content in the body).
With severe infection, some children show joint swelling, cough, runny nose, and sneezing.
One may get tummy pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea as well.
Rarely have some noticed the presence of worms in the blisters.
Parents or caretakers should take them to a doctor's consultation without fail if the child is showing flu symptoms along with rashes and blisters. The doctor may ask for the symptoms and their duration. Diagnosis involves identifying the bloody blisters on the body, which are typical of a tomato fever. The positioning of blisters in the body is important too. Diseases with similar symptoms like chickenpox or herpes ulcers should be ruled out. It is also challenging to differentiate such blisters from heat boils too.
There is no particular treatment required for tomato fever. The symptoms usually subside in seven to ten days. The doctor may prescribe:
Drugs like Aspirin or Paracetamol bring down fever, body pain, and general discomfort.
Avoiding spicy and salty food helps in preventing mouth soreness. Warm saline gargles may also help with the blisters inside the mouth.
The doctor may suggest the affected individuals increase their fluid intake so that the body stays hydrated. In addition, the drinking water needs to be boiled before use.
Also, one should be careful not to scratch or rub on the blisters and burst them. Instead, allow the blisters to subside on their own.
Bathe the child in warm water to relieve the skin irritation. Applying a skin-soothing lotion may help too.
Put the child to rest as long as the symptoms last so that the effects of fever do not turn bothersome and the blisters heal properly without getting further infected.
Currently, there are no preventive vaccinations available for this disease. Although the symptoms of the disease are most severe in the first seven days, one may have the virus persisting in the body for another week. And throughout this period, one has the chance of infecting another individual, even after the symptoms subside. However, as tomato fever affects young children the most, ways to prevent the disease spread are:
Even though the disease is not dangerous and treatable, parents should seek emergency medical treatment for their kids.
Ensure social distancing among the caregivers and the children themselves.
Maintain thorough hygiene and cleanliness. One should keep the children and their surroundings clean and disinfected, especially after diaper changes and toilet training.
Do not let the children share their clothes or toys.
Do not have direct contact with an affected individual, always maintain a safe distance.
Parents should let the affected children stay home and rest. And not send them to school till the contagious period is over. Touching the fluid from the burst blisters may spread the disease to the next person.
Avoid touching the face, mouth, eyes, and nose unnecessarily.
Children should drink plenty of warm water and take a warm shower or bath.
Suppose there is a large-scale spread of infection, causing a public health emergency. In that case, the Government may recommend keeping the child care facilities and primary level schools closed until the infection is resolved.
In case one is traveling to a tropical country on vacation or otherwise where an outbreak of tomato fever is frequent, one should take all the appropriate vaccines and get the doctor's advice on how to prevent them from catching the disease. So that in case one develops the symptoms of tomato fever, they would know what to do next.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral infection occurring in children under five years of age, resulting in ulcers inside the mouth and rashes or blisters on the hand, foot, or buttock region. It is also associated with high-grade fever. Though the infection is not very serious, it is highly contagious. To conclude, tomato fever is a misleading name for hand, foot, or mouth disease as it has additional symptoms like joint pain.
Tomato fever is frequent in the southern states of tropical countries like India. The most important method to prevent the disease spread is by creating awareness among the general public. Though the adult population does not always develop the symptoms of tomato fever, they may very well act as carriers of the virus. Therefore, pediatric doctors, primary grade teachers, and the local authorities should educate the parents on the modes of disease transmission and how to prevent them. Improving general health and hygiene among young children is also a key factor. And if one comes across symptoms like fever and blisters during a tomato flu outbreak, it is essential to seek early medical assistance and proper guidance to attain fast recovery.
Last reviewed at:
23 Aug 2022 - 5 min read
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