While most common rashes from childhood are benign, they can cause a great deal of anxiety for parents, who often believe antibiotics are the answer.
In most cases, they are not.
The physicians at KinderMender have noticed an uptick in enteroviruses this summer, including diagnoses for hand, foot, and mouth disease, which largely affects children age 5 and younger, and typically manifests with painful sores in the mouth and throat and a distinctive red blisters on the hands, palms, and feet. Fever may or may not be present.
Spread through coughing, sneezing, and infected stool (from changing a diaper), the condition is highly contagious, yet self-limiting – clearing up within a week to 10 days.
It’s an ugly – and uncomfortable – rash, but one that is relatively short-lived.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is frequently confused for – and often serves as a differential diagnosis to – Gianotti-Crosti syndrome.
When discovered in 1957 by its namesake scientists, this common skin disorder was widely associated with Hepatitis B, but that is no longer the case. Also known as “papular acrodermatitis of childhood” or PAC, contemporary cases in the U.S. have been linked to the Epstein-Barr virus, but also with other suspects, enterovirus among them.
Gianotti-Crosti is typically seen in children ages 1-3, but can occur in adolescents and even adults. Similar to hand, foot, and mouth disease at first glance, its trademark rash actually comprises large, flat-topped, fluid filled blisters that are red, pink, or brown in color, and localized to the buttocks, face, and limbs (but not the trunk).
This rash regularly pops up throughout the spring and summer, and its symptoms can last up to a month. The good news is that Gianotti-Crosti is believed to develop as a result of a previous viral infection. Once the rash has appeared, the patient is no longer considered contagious.
Making a diagnosis for both hand, foot, and mouth disease and Gianotti-Crosti is clinical. In both cases, there is no set course of treatment and no vaccine available. Because both of these common rashes spontaneously resolve on their own, home care and support is advised.
• Over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Benadryl, can be used to reduce itching.
• Topical ointments, such as Calamine lotion, have proven effective for relief.
For Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease:
• Ibuprofen is encouraged for pain relief.
• Hand washing and proper hygiene education is imperative for prevention.
• Cool food and beverages can help ease the pain of mouth sores.
Complications are rare with childhood skin conditions and common rashes such as these, but if your child develops a rash accompanied by the aforementioned symptoms, check in with your pediatric provider. Remember: KinderMender is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year.