Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease is a very common viral infection found amongst young children. Many children become infected while they are in child care, where they are frequently near other potty-training or diaper-wearing children. While the disease is contagious, it occurs most frequently in the summer and autumn, and preventable measures can be taken to help lower your child’s risk of infection.

Check out the most common symptoms of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease, and ways you can help prevent infection below!

Symptoms of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease

Each child who becomes infected with Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease will experience a different combination of symptoms. A fever is typically the first symptom of infection, followed by the lesions a day or two later, and rashes on the hands and feet one to two days after that.

  1. Fever: A low grade fever is typically the first symptom to occur for Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease, although it may not always be present. When fevers do occur in children who are infected, they will typically be below 101°F.

  2. Sore throat: While younger children may not have a sore throat with Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease, older children are more likely to complain of having one.

  3. Feeling ill: A general feeling of discomfort, or malaise, can be another early symptom of infection.

  4. Lesions on the inside of the mouth: Typically the first symptom to be noticed in children with Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease, small, red, blister-like lesions will appear on the inside of the tongue and cheeks of an infected child. The lesions are typically painful.

  5. Rash: A red rash on the bottoms of the hands and feet is another common symptom of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease. The rash may also occur on the child’s bottom. The rash does not itch, but may blister.

  6. Irritability: An infected child may also experience irritability or fussiness as a symptom, especially young children.

  7. Loss of appetite: Children with Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease may experience a loss of appetite and refuse to eat while infected.


Preventing Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease

There are no specific treatments for Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease, but there are preventive measures that you can take to limit the chances of your child becoming infected. 

  1. Wash your hands: Teach your child to frequently wash their hands with soap and warm water, especially after using the restroom and before eating. The infection for Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease is spread through oral ingestion of the virus, so ensuring that your child’s hands are clean before eating is essential.

  2. Keep hands away from the face: Teach your child to keep their hands and fingers away from their nose and mouth. If the virus is present on your child’s hands and they put them in their mouth, they could get infected.

  3. Watch out for toys: The virus that causes Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease can stay on objects for days. Teach your child to never put toys or other objects in their mouth, and frequently disinfect common areas in the house to get rid of the virus.

  4. Stay home: If your child has Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease, keep them home for until the fever breaks. The virus is very contagious, and going near other children could spread the disease very quickly. Warn your child’s teacher or daycare if your child has Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease so they can take the necessary measures and let the other parents know.

While Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease can seem scary at first, it is a minor infection with relatively mild symptoms. Bring your child in to the doctor if the sores on their mouth are preventing them from eating or drinking, or if the symptoms do not pass on their own within a few days.

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