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Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease [Child]

This illness is caused by a virus. This virus causes small ulcers in the mouth and small blisters or red spots on the palms and soles. There is usually a low-grade fever that lasts up to four days. The mouth ulcers go away in about seven days. The rash goes away in about ten days. This is not a serious illness, but the painful sores in the mouth may prevent your child from taking oral fluids well. This may result in dehydration.

This illness is CONTAGIOUS from two days before the rash appears until two days after the rash disappears. It takes 3-6 days for the illness to appear in an exposed child. There is no danger to pregnant women from this illness.

Home Care:

  1. MOUTH PAIN: Unless your doctor has prescribed another medicine for mouth pain:
    Use a local numbing solution such as Anbesol (comes in Baby, Regular and Maximum strength) for pain relief. If this is not available, you may use any numbing solution for teething babies. You may apply this directly to the sores with a cotton-tip swab or with your finger. Use the numbing solution just before meals to make eating less painful.

  2. FEEDING: Follow a soft diet with plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. If your child doesn't want to eat solid foods, it's okay for a few days, as long as s/he drinks lots of fluid. Cool drinks and frozen treats (sherbet) are soothing and easier to take. Avoid citrus juices (orange juice, lemonade, etc.) and salty or spicy foods. These may cause more pain in the mouth sores.

  3. FEVER: Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever, fussiness or discomfort. In infants over six months of age, you may use ibuprofen (Children's Motrin) instead of Tylenol. [NOTE: If your child has chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.] (Aspirin should never be used in anyone under 18 years of age who is ill with a fever. It may cause severe liver damage.)

  4. ISOLATION: Because the illness is so mild, isolation is not necessary. Children may return to day care or school once the fever is gone and they are eating and drinking well.

Follow Up

with your doctor as directed by our staff.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

or contact your child's doctor if any of the following occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) oral or 101.4°F (38.5°C) rectal or higher, not better with fever medication

  • Unusual fussiness, drowsiness or confusion

  • No wet diapers for 8 hours, no tears when crying

  • Sunken eyes or dry mouth

  • Dark purple rash


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