Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common disease of childhood particularly children under 10 years old.
It’s caused by a virus called coxsackievirus.
Early symptoms may include fever and a sore throat (in younger kids fever and decreased eating or drinking). Painful blisters similar to cold sores can show up on the inside of your child’s mouth (usually in the back portion of the mouth) or tongue.
A rash on the palms of hands or the soles of feet a day or two after the first symptoms appear. This rash may turn into blisters. Flat spots or sores may pop up on the knees, elbows, or buttocks. A child could have all of these symptoms, or only one or two.
Mouth sores can make it hurt to swallow, so be sure your child gets enough water and calories.
Diagnosis is usually done clinically by the doctor as the skin rash is characteristic. But sometimes blood sample is taken to make sure.
The disease should go away on its own after 7 to10 days. There is no treatment for the illness and no vaccine. You can ease your child’s symptoms with:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) or numbing mouth sprays. Don’t use aspirin for pain – it can cause serious illness in children.
- Cold treats like Popsicles, yogurt, or smoothies soothe a sore throat.
- Anti-itch lotion, like calamine, can help against rashes.
The best way to prevent transmission of infection is to wash hands thoroughly especially after you change a diaper or wipe a runny nose.
Your child should be fever- and symptom-free before he/she goes back to school or daycare.