Providing Quality Care in Wayne and Pike Counties

Help!  My child has a rash on her hands and feet and won’t eat!

Image result for hand foot and mouth, image

(image from GPnotebook.co.uk)

Frequently asked questions (FAQs):

  • What is it?  Hand, foot, and mouth (HFM) disease is a viral disease named for the parts of the body it most often effects.  It is extremely common in young children (under the age of 5 years).  It’s caused by Coxsackie virus and is more common in the summer and early fall seasons, but can happen any time of year.  Despite its name, the blisters can appear on the legs, arms, buttocks, and torso, too.
  • How did my child get this?  Can I catch it, too?  The virus is passed in both respiratory and stool droplets.  People can catch the virus at any age, but most people have been exposed to it by the time they reach school age. The best way to prevent transmission is to keep hands (and anything they touch, like diapers, toys, and the like) clean with either soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • What can I do to make my child feel better?  Do they need an antibiotic?  Since it’s a virus, an antibiotic will not help.  Symptomatic care is the best treatment – ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever, cool drinks and foods if the mouth is sensitive.  Mouth sores can also be treated with a liquid antacid (like Maalox) to help with pain; use a q-tip to apply to the sores in the mouth.
  • When can they return to school or daycare?  HFM is very contagious, and usually spreads quickly.  If your child has been fever-free for 24 hours without medication, they can usually return to their normal activities.  Check with the facility’s policy to be absolutely sure.
  • Are there long-term complications?  Usually not.  Sometimes, after recovering, the skin on hands and feet can peel, and the nails can peel as well.  This is short-lived and will resolve on its own without intervention.