Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)

This article will discuss the signs, symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention of hand, foot, and mouth disease, providing valuable information for parents who may be concerned about their child’s health.

If you have any concerns about your child’s health or if their symptoms persist or worsen, don’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional. After Hours Kids, located in Austin, Texas, is dedicated to providing quality pediatric care, even after regular office hours.

What is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease?

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD)  is a common viral illness in kids, usually affecting children younger than 5 years old, but it can occur in older children and adults too. It’s caused by different viruses, but the most common culprit is the Coxsackievirus.

The symptoms of HFMD include fever, sore throat, and tiny red spots in the mouth, along with a rash on the hands and feet. This rash might turn into small blisters and can also appear on the buttocks.

What Causes HFMD? 

Hand, foot, and mouth disease in children is typically caused by viruses, most commonly the Coxsackievirus. These viruses belong to a group called enteroviruses. They spread through close contact with an infected person or by touching contaminated surfaces.

The viruses responsible for hand, foot, and mouth disease mainly enter the body through the mouth, nose, or eyes. Once inside, they quickly multiply and can cause symptoms like fever, sore throat, and tiny red spots in the mouth, along with a rash on the hands and feet. This rash can develop into small blisters.

Is HFMD Contagious?

Yes, HFMD is highly contagious. Therefore, it’s important to practice good hygiene, like frequent handwashing, to prevent its spread. While it’s generally a mild illness and clears up on its own within a week, it’s crucial to seek medical advice for proper management, especially if complications arise.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of HFMD?

Hand, foot, and mouth disease in children typically starts with a fever and sore throat. Soon after, small red spots or ulcers might appear in the mouth, which can be painful. These are the mouth sores. 

A skin rash might develop on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, or even the buttocks. This rash can turn into blisters and might be itchy or uncomfortable. Sometimes, children with hand, foot, and mouth disease might not want to eat or drink much because of the painful sores in their mouths. Other symptoms can include irritability, tiredness, and feeling unwell. 

When Should My Child See a Doctor?

Parents should consider taking their child to see a doctor to have hand, foot, and mouth disease diagnosed if they suspect their children might have this illness. While this illness typically resolves on its own, there are situations where medical attention is warranted. 

If your child experiences difficulty swallowing or breathing, if they refuse to drink fluids, or if they seem excessively tired or lethargic, it’s crucial to seek medical advice promptly.

If your child’s symptoms persist for more than a week or if they develop new or worsening symptoms, such as high fever, severe headache, or signs of dehydration, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional. 

How is HFMD Treated?

Hand, foot, and mouth disease treatment mainly focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting the child’s comfort. Since it’s caused by a virus, antibiotics aren’t effective. Instead, parents can help manage their child’s symptoms at home. Over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help reduce fever and relieve sore throat pain.

To soothe and protect irritated mouth sores, offer cool, soft foods like yogurt, popsicles, or smoothies. Avoid acidic or spicy foods that can further irritate mouth sores. Encouraging your child to drink plenty of fluids is important to prevent dehydration, especially if they’re reluctant to eat due to mouth pain.

While the rash associated with hand, foot, and mouth disease usually doesn’t require specific treatment, keeping the affected areas clean and dry can help prevent infection.

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Prevention

Preventing hand, foot, and mouth disease mainly involves practicing good hygiene to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Encourage regular handwashing with soap and water, especially after using the toilet, changing diapers, or caring for someone who is sick. Teach children to avoid sharing utensils, cups, or toys with others, as the virus can spread through saliva, mucus, or feces.

Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, toys, and countertops, can help kill the virus and prevent its spread. If your child is sick with hand, foot, and mouth disease, keep them home from school or daycare until they’re no longer contagious to avoid infecting others.

Additionally, practicing good respiratory hygiene, like covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the elbow, can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses that may contribute to hand, foot, and mouth disease. Overall, promoting these simple hygiene practices can significantly reduce the risk of hand, foot, and mouth disease in children.

Protecting Your Child’s Health

Hand, foot, and mouth disease can be distressing for both children and parents, but with proper care and attention, most cases can be managed effectively at home.

If you’re concerned about your child’s symptoms or if they worsen, don’t hesitate to seek medical advice. After Hours Kids, located in Austin, Texas, is here to help.

Our experienced pediatricians are available after hours to provide compassionate care for your child. Schedule an appointment with After Hours Kids for prompt and reliable medical attention, ensuring your child’s health and well-being.


AHK Advanced Practice Providers

Our AHK APP’s include: Annie Croft, Pam Dietrich, Erin Moore, and Nikki Nutter,