Hand-foot-and-mouth disease — a mild, contagious viral infection common in young children — is characterized by sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet. Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most commonly caused by a coxsackievirus.
There's no specific treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Frequent hand-washing and avoiding close contact with people who are infected with hand-foot-and-mouth disease may help reduce your child's risk of infection. For a diagnosis of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, and a doctor’s note if needed, visit us at Local MD Urgent Care.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Symptoms
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease may cause all of the following signs and symptoms or just some of them. They include:
Painful, red, blister-like lesions on the tongue, gums and inside of the cheeks
A red rash, without itching but sometimes with blistering, on the palms, soles and sometimes the buttocks
Irritability in infants and toddlers
Loss of appetite
The usual period from initial infection to the onset of signs and symptoms (incubation period) is three to six days. A fever is often the first sign of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, followed by a sore throat and sometimes a poor appetite and feeling unwell.
One or two days after the fever begins, painful sores may develop in the front of the mouth or throat. A rash on the hands and feet and possibly on the buttocks can follow within one or two days.
Sores that develop in the back of the mouth and throat may suggest that your child is infected with a related viral illness called herpangina. Other features of herpangina include a sudden high fever and in some instances, seizure. Sores that develop on the hands, feet or other parts of the body are very rare.
Causes Of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
The most common cause of hand-foot-and-mouth disease is infection with the coxsackievirus A16. The coxsackievirus belongs to a group of viruses called nonpolio enteroviruses. Other types of enteroviruses sometimes cause hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
Oral ingestion is the main source of coxsackievirus infection and hand-foot-and-mouth disease. The illness spreads by person-to-person contact with an infected person's:
Nasal secretions or throat discharge
Fluid from blisters
Respiratory droplets sprayed into the air after a cough or sneeze
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most common in children in child care settings because of frequent diaper changes and toilet training, and because little children often put their hands in their mouths.
Although your child is most contagious with hand-foot-and-mouth disease during the first week of the illness, the virus can remain in his or her body for weeks after the signs and symptoms are gone. That means your child still can infect others.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Diagnosis
Your doctor will likely be able to distinguish hand-foot-and-mouth disease from other types of viral infections by evaluating:
The age of the affected person
The pattern of signs and symptoms
The appearance of the rash or sores
Your doctor may take a throat swab or stool specimen and send it to the laboratory to determine which virus caused the illness.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Treatment
There's no specific treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Signs and symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease usually clear up in seven to 10 days.
A topical oral anesthetic may help relieve the pain of mouth sores. Over-the-counter pain medications other than aspirin, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) may help relieve general discomfort.