Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is an illness caused by a virus. It is usually seen in infant and children younger than 10 years of age, but can occur in adults. This virus causes small ulcers in the mouth (throat, lips, cheeks, gums, and tongue) and small blisters or red spots may appear on the palms (hands), diaper area, and soles of the feet. There is usually a low-grade fever and poor appetite. HFMD is not a serious illness and usually go away in 1 to 2 weeks. The painful sores in the mouth may prevent your child from taking oral fluids well and result in dehydration.
It takes 3 to 5 days for the illness to appear in an exposed child. Generally, the HFMD is the most contagious during the first week of the illness. Sometimes, people can be contagious for days or weeks after the symptoms have disappeared. Adults who get infected with the HFMD may not have symptoms and may still be contagious.
HFMD can be transmitted from person to person by:
Touching your nose, mouth, eye after touching the stool of an infected person (has the virus)
Touching your nose, mouth, eye after touching fluid from the blisters/sores of an infected person
Respiratory secretions (sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose)
Touching contaminated objects (toys, doorknobs)
Oral secretions (kissing)
Unless your doctor has prescribed another medicine for mouth pain:
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be used for pain or discomfort. Please consult your child's doctor before giving your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for dosing instructions and when to give the medicine (schedule). Do not give ibuprofen to an infant 6 months of age or younger. Talk to your child's doctor before giving him or her over-the counter medicines.
Liquid antacid can be used 4 times per day to coat the mouth sores for pain relief. Follow these instructions or do as directed by your child's doctor.
Children over age 4 can use 1 teaspoon (5 ml) as a mouth rinse after meals.
For children under age 4, a parent can place 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) in the front of the mouth after meals. Avoid regular mouth rinses because they may sting.
Follow a soft diet with plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. If your child doesn't want to eat solid foods, it's OK for a few days, as long as he or she 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.
You may use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever, as directed by your child's doctor. Talk to your child's doctor for dosing instructions and schedule. Do not give ibuprofen to an infant 6 months of age or younger. 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 disease (Reye Syndrome) or death.
Children may return to day care or school once the fever is gone and they are eating and drinking well. Contact your healthcare provider and ask when your child (or you) is able to return to school (or work).
Follow up with your doctor as directed by our staff.
Call your child's healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:
Your child complains of neck or chest pain
Your child is having trouble breathing and lethargic
Your child is having trouble swallowing
Mouth ulcers are present after 2 weeks
Your child's condition is worse
Your child appear to be dehydrated (dry mouth, no tears, haven' t urinated is 8 or more hours)
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, not better with fever medicine
Your child has repeated fevers above 104°F (40°C)
Your child is younger than 2 years old and their fever continues for more than 24 hours
Your child is 2 years old and older and their fever continues for more than 3 days
When to call 911 or seek medical care immediately :
Unusual fussiness, drowsiness or confusion
Dark purple rash