Common Conditions

How to Spot Hand Foot and Mouth in Your Child

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFM) is a common disease among children caused by a virus that pediatricians witness in summer and early fall. The most common pathogen is coxsackievirus a 16 and enterovirus 71. The viral infection is characterized by painful red blisters in the mouth, throat, hands, feet, and diaper area of children. Though mild, the disease is contagious. Children under the age of 5 are most vulnerable to HFM.  

Till date, there is no known specific treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. The disease clears up after running its course, and most children recover completely within a week. As a method of prevention, children are to frequently wash their hands and avoid contact with people suffering from the hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

Symptoms

The symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease vary from individual to individual. The infected individuals may show either some or all of the below-given symptoms.

• Sore throat

• Painful, red blisters

• Irritability, especially in infants and toddlers

• Fever

• Malaise

• Red rashes without itching

• Loss of appetite

• Muscle aches

• Drooling

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease leads to the appearance of small blisters which appear like small fluid-filled red bubbles. These blisters typically peel and leave an ulcer which will be sore with a reddish base. Nonetheless, rashes on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands will appear flat like red spots.

Sometimes, pink rashes also appear on other parts of the body such as the thighs and buttocks. Nevertheless, there have also been cases where children had no symptoms other than a few sores in the throat.

It is often hard for parents to tell if their child has hand-foot-and-mouth disease, especially in younger children who can’t vocalize their symptoms. When the sores are only in the mouth and throat they may be hard to spot. Thus, if you find your child stops eating or drinking, has lost their appetite, and is suffering from an unexplained fever, it may be a sign that your child is suffering from hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

Treatment

There is no treatment specifically for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. However, there are steps you can take to ease the symptoms of the disease. Irritability and aching can be improved by giving acetaminophen or ibuprofen to your child. Aspirin is not recommended as it can lead to a serious illness called Reye Syndrome.

Spoil your infected child with cold  and soft foods such as ice cream, smoothies, and popsicles. Such foods numb the area and ease the kids’ difficulty in swallowing food. Avoid acidic food, hot drinks, and sodas as it can further worsen the pain.

Always keep the blisters on the hands and feet clean and open. Wash the skin using soap and lukewarm water, and pat dry. Be careful to not pop a blister, but in case it pops, apply a dab of antibiotic ointment to prevent infection and cover the area with a small bandage. 

Children might grow dehydrated during the course of hand-foot-and-mouth disease as it hurts to swallow. Thus, ensure your kids consume plenty of fluids and consult a doctor if the irritability worsens. Sunken eyes decreased urine output, and dry and sticky mouth are other signs that your child may be getting dehydrated. In such a case, immediate medical attention is required. 

Washing your hands is the best form of prevention against hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Toys that are shared in childcare centers and similar settings should be disinfected regularly to prevent the spread of hand-foot-and-mouth disease. 

If you are in the Walnut Creek area and think your child may be suffering from hand-foot-and-mouth disease, reach out to BASS Advanced Urgent Care today. The advanced diagnostics and highly-experienced doctors and clinicians will take care of your child and make the course of hand-foot-and-mouth disease less painful.