Hand Foot Mouth Disease: What You Need to Know

I have said before that it is hard for a parent to see their child sick. When you know your little one is getting sick you do all the research you can to figure out what they have and how you can help them get better.

Hand Foot Mouth Disease is one illness that is very common in children, especially children who are in daycare that are 3 and under because they are prone to putting their fingers in their mouth.

Hand Foot Mouth Disease: What You Need to Know

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What is hand foot mouth disease?

Hand foot mouth disease is a mild viral illness that is also very contagious. You may hear your doctor refer to is as coxsackievirus because that is the name of the virus that most commonly causes hand foot mouth disease. It is most commonly characterized by blisters in the mouth.

What are the symptoms of hand foot mouth disease?

There are several symptoms of hand foot mouth disease, and your child may present with all of these symptoms or just a few:

  • Fever
  • Generally not feeling well
  • Sore throat
  • Painful red blisters on the tongue, gums, insides of the cheeks, and sometimes around the lips
  • Red rash, with or without blisters, on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet and sometimes the buttocks
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite

From the time your child is exposed until the time your child starts showing symptoms is usually 3 to 6 days, meaning the potential for widespread illness, which is why there is commonly outbreaks in daycares.

Often times the first sign of hand foot mouth disease, as with many other illnesses, is fever, followed by sore throat and loss of appetite. Usually about 1 to 2 days after the fever is when the blisters start to show in the mouth, and 1 to 2 days later is when the redness starts on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

How is hand foot mouth disease treated?

Because it is a virus, there is no specific treatment for hand foot mouth disease. It is important to treat symptoms to make your child comfortable for a few days until the virus has run it’s course.

  • Give your child Tylenol and Motrin to help with the pain and bring down high fevers.
  • Encourage your child drink fluids. With blisters in the mouth it can be hard to eat, so during this time it is just important for your child to stay hydrated.
  • If you have a hard time getting your child to drink fluids, offre them popsicles or shaved ice. The cold can help with swelling and pain and still get fluids in them.
  • Let your child rest. Being sick takes a lot out of a child because their bodies have to work harder to fight off the infection. Now is not the time to make your child go to daycare, you want to let them sleep so they can get better.

The biggest complication with hand foot mouth disease is dehydration. If you notice that your child isn’t making any wet diapers you should see your doctor to make sure your child doesn’t need IV fluids to help reverse the dehydration.

Has your child ever had hand foot mouth disease? Did your child have to get IV fluids?

Thanks for reading, Cassie

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