When your little one comes into contact with a virus, it can be alarming. The rash, fever, or simply them feeling unwell can make any parent’s stress level skyrocket. And of course, it can be even more worrisome when that same disease can be easily passed to parents and other kids too. Hand, foot, and mouth disease sores, symptoms, and its reputation for being highly contagious can make the harmless, and even mild, infection seem scary. Even still, the strange symptoms can be daunting, so we have laid out all the information you need about hand, foot, and mouth disease including home remedies, treatment, and when to call your pediatrician.


Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral infection most commonly caused by the coxsackievirus. Its trademark is red, painful blisters that commonly appear on hands, feet, in the mouth, throat, and diaper area. While it might seem a bit scary, it is often harmless and is usually a relatively mild condition. However, it can be highly contagious. While the infection typically occurs in children 6 months to 4 years old, it can be passed to adults, too. The virus is spread through direct contact with a person who has the disease, with unwashed hands or surfaces, and any contact with bodily excretions such as saliva, feces, or respiratory droplets. So be sure to avoid contact with those with known infections and keep your hands and home surfaces as clean as can be!


If a child is exposed, they will generally show symptoms within 6 days. A child diagnosed with this condition will have rashes that look like little red spots or blisters that typically last one to two weeks. Over time, the rashes on the hand and feet are likely to peel. While they can be difficult to spot, most kids have the characteristic hand, foot, and mouth disease sores. Usually on the tongue and the insides of the cheeks, the small, painful sores last around a week. Many kids also have a low grade fever that lasts 2 or 3 days. Be sure to keep your child at home and away from school or daycare until their fever and blisters have disappeared in order to prevent spreading the virus. 


One of the key worries with hand, foot, and mouth disease is dehydration. So, be sure to keep your child cool and well-hydrated with cold fluids, popsicles, slushies, or other smoothie-like beverages. Hydration is often the most important treatment. Once your child has had enough fluids, keep them fed with soft foods that do not need to be as thoroughly chewed. Be sure to avoid foods that might irritate the mouth such as citrus or spicy foods and those that might dehydrate them further such as salty foods. 


Hand, foot, and mouth disease sores and rashes are often painful and the condition itself can be uncomfortable. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used as needed to reduce pain and help reduce fevers. If your child has a fever above 102° F, be sure to keep them very hydrated and offer fever reducers as recommended by your pediatrician. Keep in mind that, although fevers can be worrisome, they are very important for fighting off infections. To help with the pain associated with mouth sores, you can offer your little one a liquid antacid according to your pediatrician’s recommendations. If your child typically uses a mouthwash, have them hold off on using it until the infection clears up to avoid further irritation. 


While hand, foot, and mouth disease home remedies are often enough to get your child back to health in a week or two, sometimes the condition can be severe. If the rash of small blisters spreads from the usual areas to the face, arms, and legs as well the case might be worse than normal. If you notice any of these symptoms, or are concerned, be sure to bring your child in to see a pediatrician so that they can be sure that you have the proper diagnosis and treatment plan. 


We understand that hand, foot, and mouth disease can be daunting and more than a little bit worrisome, especially with severe symptoms. Although often harmless, there are still potential dangers with serious cases. Be sure to call your pediatrician right away if your child gets worse, you suspect dehydration, or if your child appears very sick and if that sickness seems like an urgent problem. If you notice any additional signs that the infection may be severe but not necessarily urgent, you should contact a doctor during business hours. Look out for fevers lasting more than a few days, if the rash spreads to arms and legs, if you notice swelling and redness of the gums, or simply if you think that your child needs a professional to take a look. With this condition, you can trust your parental instinct. If you notice any typical symptoms that would prompt you to call a doctor, don’t hesitate. 

At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, we are here to help you through the fevers, rashes, sores, and so much more. Whether or not you are worried, feel free to contact your pediatrician if you suspect your child has hand, foot, and mouth disease. Home remedies are often helpful, but a professional diagnosis and treatment plan can be monumental in easing your child’s symptoms for a speedy and comfortable recovery. To make an appointment, visit us at www.coastalkids.com. We look forward to helping your family feel better and return to your best health!