Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a disease caused by a virus. The disease causes sores in the mouth as well as blisters on the hands and feet. It mainly occurs in children age 6 months to 4 years.
Symptoms can include:
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by the Coxsackie A-16 virus. It has no relationship to hoof and mouth disease of cattle. Outbreaks occur most often in the summer and fall.
The fever and discomfort are usually gone in 3 or 4 days. The mouth ulcers will heal in about 7 days, but the rash on the hands and feet can last 10 days. The only complication seen with any frequency is dehydration from children refusing to drink fluids because the mouth is painful.
For very young children, put 1/2 teaspoon antacid solution in the front of the mouth four times a day after meals. Children over age 4 can use 1 teaspoon of an antacid solution as a mouthwash after meals.
Offer a soft diet. Use a cup instead of a bottle to give fluids to very young children. Cold drinks, milkshakes, Popsicles, and sherbet are good choices. Avoid citrus, salty, or spicy foods.
Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for severe mouth pain or fever over 102°F (38.9°C).
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is quite contagious. Usually some of your child's playmates will develop it at about the same time. The incubation period after contact is 3 to 6 days. Because the spread of infection is extremely difficult to prevent and the condition is harmless, these children do not need to be isolated. They can return to day care or school when the fever returns to normal. While most children are contagious from 2 days before to 2 days after the rash, avoiding other children is unnecessary.
Call IMMEDIATELY if:
Call during office hours if: