Hand, Foot and Mouth Rash

Hand, foot and mouth rash is caused by hand, foot and mouth disease, which is a viral infection common in kids under 5 years old. It is caused by coxsackievirus A16 which is one of the strains of the coxsackievirus. Young children who attend school or daycare are most vulnerable to suffer from this disease as this viral infection tends to spread quickly there.

Children older than 10 are less likely to catch hand, foot and mouth disease. They usually have developed immunity to this infection. However, the cases of infection are still possible, even in adults with weakened immune systems. 

How to Treat Hand, Foot and Mouth Rash

There is no specific treatment for hand, foot and mouth rash. However, your doctor may provide you with home care treatments that will help make your child comfortable as he or she recovers from the disease.

1. Use Medications

  • ŸAcetaminophen or Ibuprofen

Children can be given ibuprofen and acetaminophen to ease their discomfort or pain due to red lesions or blisters. However, they should not be given aspirin as it can cause Reye syndrome which is a very rare and dangerous disease.

  • ŸMagic Mouthwash

Magic mouthwash is a mixture which you can buy from the pharmacies. It is very helpful for easing the pain of children who have trouble swallowing.

2. Keep Clean

Wash the skin where the red rash or blisters are present with soap and lukewarm water, then pat dry. This can keep the infected areas clean. Make sure the red rash or blistered areas on their hands and feet uncovered. If blisters have popped, apply antibiotic ointment on them and cover with a small bandage to prevent further infection.

3. Drink Lots of Fluids

Give your child plenty of fluids to drink. Take your child to a doctor if he or she shows signs of dehydration like sunken eyes, dry tongue and a reduction in urine output.

4. Watch Out for What Your Child Eat

Eating certain foods can worsen the pain in children’s blisters. This can be avoided by giving children ice chips or ice pops to suck on. You can also give your child ice cream, sherbet and cold beverages. Make sure that you do not give your kid acidic or spicy foods. Try to give your child soft foods that can be chewed easily. And ask him or her to rinse mouth with warm water after every meal.

What Are the Symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?

The symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease include:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Uneasiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Painful red lesions or blisters on gums, tongue and inside of cheeks
  • Red rash with blistering on palms, soles or sometimes on buttocks and thighs that does not cause itching

The incubation period for this infection is about 3 to 6 days. Fever and a sore throat are the initial signs of this disease. The development of sores in the throat or mouth, loss of appetite and uneasiness start after 1 or 2 days of fever. Then a rash on feet, hands, sometimes on buttocks and thighs occurs within 1 or 2 days.

When to See a Doctor

Contact your doctor immediately if:

  • ŸThe sore throat or mouth sores are preventing your child from drinking any fluids.
  • ŸYour child’s symptoms worsen after a few days.

Is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Serious?

Hand, foot and mouth disease is not a serious illness which causes a fever only in a few days and other benign symptoms. Most of the people make a full recovery within 7 to 10 days even if they do not get any medical treatment. The most common complication is dehydration. There is a chance of viral meningitis, encephalitis and a polio-like paralysis occurring, but they are all very rare.

Is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Contagious?

Yes. The virus causing hand, foot and mouth disease is present in an infected child’s:

  • Saliva, throat discharge or nasal secretions
  • Fluid from blisters
  • Stool

The spreading of hand, foot and mouth disease from an infected child occurs through:

  • Sharing utensils, hugging or kissing
  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Contacting with stool when changing a diaper
  • Touching the fluid from blisters
  • Contacting with surfaces or objects that have the virus present on them

This is why hand, foot and mouth rash is prevalent in child care homes as the children undergo frequent diaper changes and are most likely to suck on their fingers.

Children can pass on the disease to others even when they have recovered from the infection as the virus can remain in their bodies for a long period of time. Adults can infect others with the virus even if they are not exhibiting any symptoms.

In the United States, the outbreaks of this disease are most common in summer and autumn. But in the tropical regions, the outbreaks can occur at any time of the year.

How to Prevent Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

No vaccines are available that can help prevent hand, foot and mouth disease or other infections that are similar to it. However, some preventive measures can be taken to minimize the risk of catching this disease.

1. Maintain Good Hygiene

Wash your hands every time you change a diaper, come out of the toilet or before cooking. Make use of soap and hand wipes to kill the germs. If your child attends school or daycare, show him or her how to wash hands, remain clean and make him or her understand why putting hands in mouth is not a good habit.

2. Keep Common Areas Clean

Make sure that the common areas like child care centers are kept clean. Toys and other shared items must be regularly disinfected.

3. Keep Contagious People in Isolation

Since hand, foot and mouth rash is a contagious disease, it is best to keep the children with this illness out of school or child care until their symptoms subside.

You can also watch a video to learn more about hand, foot and mouth disease: