What Should You Know About HFMD?
April 9, 2021
Hand, foot, and mouth disease (cause by the coxsackie virus) is a viral infection that is most common in children under 5 years old, though anyone can get it. It is not considered a serious illness, but it is very contagious and tends to spread very quickly through schools and daycares. .
What should I look for if I think my child has HFMD?
Symptoms are usually worse the first few days and gradually improve. Most cases resolve completely in 1-2 weeks. Symptoms may include all or only a selection of the following:
- Sores that may appear on fingers, palms of hands, soles of feet, inside mouth, and on the buttocks
- These may begin as flat red spots that begin to blister and become painful.
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in and around the mouth and back of throat may cause children to refuse to eat and drink, drool more than usual, and prefer cold liquids.
Because hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral process, there is no medicine specifically to treat or cure the infection. The best course is to treat the symptoms, keep your child comfortable, and prevent dehydration.
- Avoid giving your child salty, spicy, or acidic foods. These will only irritate the sores in the mouth and cause more pain
- Offer a soft, bland diet. Soft breads, ice cream, popsicles, etc
- Push fluids to prevent dehydration. Your child may be hesitant to drink due to pain from swallowing. Offer cold fluids and popsicles to encourage your child to stay hydrated
- If your child is over 6 months old, you may also alternate Tylenol and Motrin (dosage per weight) to help with the pain and fever
Control the spread of hand foot, and mouth
- Cover mouths and noses when sneezing/coughing with a disposable tissue or arm sleeve if no tissue available
- Wash your hands after changing diapers
- Clean, rinse, and sanitize any toys that may have come in contact with your child’s saliva
- Prevent the sharing of food, drinks, and personal items that may touch your child’s mouth such as spoons/forks, toothbrushes, and towels
- Prevent contact from infected child and other children in the home. Try to prevent close contact such as kissing, hugging, etc. If the children share a room, separate them while contagious
- Disinfect regularly touched surfaces.
When can my child return to school or daycare?
- Your child should be fever free for 24 hours without the aid of fever reducers
- No new blisters developing and current blisters are “drying” up. (No open or draining blisters)
When should I contact my child’s pediatrician?
- You child is not drinking enough to stay hydrated
- Fever (100.4 F or greater) lasts greater than 3 days
- Symptoms do not improve after 10 days
- Your child has a weakened immune system or if symptoms are severe
- Your child is very young, especially younger than 6 months