Lately, KinderMender has seen lots of patients displaying symptoms of one particular illness: the aptly-named Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease. This illness is not to be confused with illnesses that affect barnyard animals: Hoof and Mouth disease or Mad Cow Disease, both of which bring to mind images of ravenous cows foaming at the mouth.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease is a common viral illness that typically affects children under five years old, covering the (yes, you guessed it) hands, feet, and mouth with a rash. This disease is easily spread through coughing, sneezing, or the touching of infected stool (ew!). The incubation period, or the period between infection and the first outbreak of symptoms, is usually three to six days.
What are the symptoms of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease?
Although every child is unique (don’t we know it!), some of the common symptoms of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease include:
- sore throat;
- fever from 101 to 103 degrees;
- rash on the mouth, hands, and feet; and
- sores and blisters on the mouth, hands, feet, and buttocks.
And to make things even more complicated, in some cases, there are no symptoms at all.
What is the treatment for Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease?
Because Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease is a viral infection (much like the flu), there are no antibiotics that can be prescribed for your child. Generally, pediatricians suggest that your child rest and consume cold fluids for the sore throat (we even give you permission to serve them ice cream or ice pops!) or use mouthwashes and/or sprays to numb mouth pain.
You can also give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) for the fever and pain.
Preventing the spread of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease
Even though your child is more likely to spread the disease during the first week, the virus can stay in the stool for several months. To help stop the spread of the illness, you should:
- keep them isolated while they are febrile (this is a big word that means showing symptoms of a fever) or have the rash;
- be careful when applying cream, ointment, or lotion to your child’s blisters, because the disease can sometimes spread to adults; and
- encourage and participate in frequent hand-washing after changing diapers, going to the bathroom, etc.
If you are at all worried about your child’s illness, please do not hesitate to call your pediatrician.