What is Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease?
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common childhood virus. It is caused by the Coxsackie virus. This virus is common in the summer and early fall. It is highly contagious!!!! Often it will show up 3-7 days after your child has been exposed to it. A child is most infectious during the first week, easily spreading it to other people. The virus spreads through tiny droplets that are released during coughing or sneezing, through the fluid in the blisters or via their stool. It staying in your child’s system for a month in their stool. Adults can also become infected with this virus. So hand washing is KEY!!!
Signs and Symptoms
It usually begins with a high fever for a few days, sore throat and feeling unwell for days before the red spots appear. Children often do not want to eat and are very irritable. The spots can be found not only on your hands, feet and in your mouth but also on your arms, face, legs, and bum. These spots can be extremely itchy and painful. After a few days these spots change into blisters, then dry up and then takes days for them to fade. Often your child will get another wave of spots a week or so after the first spots appear. Because hand, foot and mouth is a virus it has to run it’s course and there is no medication that your doctor can prescribe that will treat it.
How can we help our little ones
The best thing we can do is keep our little ones comfortable and help control the pain. You can give Tylenol or Advil as per the instructions and dosage on the label or contact your doctor or pharmacy for dosages. Offer your child small amount of fluid frequently. Cold fluids or popsicles are soothing to their sore throats. Try to avoid giving them drinks or foods that are citrus, spicy or salty as this can cause pain.
Dehydration is a concern if your child is not drinking enough. Keep an eye on how many wet diapers they have or how many times they go to the washroom. If you are concerned in any way please contact your doctor or seek medical assistance.
My families experience with Hand, Foot & Mouth
What is worse than one kid having hand foot and mouth? All three kids having it!!! UGH! Over 28 days of spots, fever, drooling, sore throat, itchy, blisters and miserable children!!!
Each of my kids presented differently. My youngest 20 months- presented with a high fever despite using Tylenol or Advil and was drooling a ton. He had no appetite but would still drink milk. He was absolutely miserable and woke up so much through the night. Then once the fever broke one morning he didn’t want to walk, it was almost like his joints were stiff and he looked so sore. What I didn’t know at the time is that his feet would be covered in almost 40 spots then blisters on each foot. It really scared me that he refused to walk and was now crawling everywhere. He got spots to his face, ears, hand, arms, legs, bum, feet, toes and in his mouth It was awful!! He got two waves of spots and blisters. Once the initial ones came and dried up he got a second round. Their bums presented all in the same way, bright red, then broke down, itchy and then painful. It took weeks for this to resolve.
We used calamine lotion to sooth the itch and reapplied it frequently!!!!! We gave Tylenol and Advil for the pain. Popsicles became a favorite for the kids that had blisters in the back of their throat. The worst part of it was how long it lasts and that we got another wave of blisters. About a month after the start of hand, foot and mouth, a few of my son’s finger nails and toe nails started to peel off. They peeled off in layers and this lasted for another month. Once his blisters on his feet and hands has dried up the skin completely peeled off where the blisters were. This was a little alarming at the amount of skin that came off but the skin underneath was healthy.
Unfortunately for my middle daughter it was her second time getting it- her first was when she was 14 months. You can get it again and again which is awful!!
We missed lots of school and activities but wanted to be sure that the blisters had healed before returning back to school. We did lots of click and collect groceries to minimize spreading it to anyone. Drive through Starbucks was my best friend!! It was a LONG haul but thankful that it is over and happy to have healthy and happy kids again!!