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Handling Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease: November 19, 2013

As childhood maladies go, its symptoms standout. Alarming parents and making kids feel darn pretty rotten.

“Your child is having a hard time swallowing, you see they’re in pain when they swallow - that could make you pretty nervous. But when you look at the hand and soles and see a rash there then you would be really worried at that point,” says Dr. Pierre Loredo, pediatrician with Lee Memorial Health System.

Most common in children under four - hand, foot and mouth disease follows a predictable pattern.

“What happens is you’ll have a kid with a sore throat, they’ll feel a little tired, they will just lay around the house, and then about 12 hours later we’ll have a fever develop and then after the fever, we start to get a little rash on our mouth, primarily our gum line. We can have it on our lips and on our tongue,” says Dr. Loredo.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is an intestinal virus that causes red spots and water blisters on the palms of hands, soles of feet and mouth. Like most germs it spreads by unwashed hands making group settings a potential breeding ground.

Since it’s a virus, it can’t be treated with antibiotics. Parents should provide supportive care with over-the-counter drugs and keep their kids home during the contagious period.
“The first two or three days they will be having a fever. But after those two to three days go by kids tend to do better,” says Dr. Loredo.

The illness takes a few weeks to completely resolve. If it’s spreading through your child’s school or daycare, the best way to handle it, is to keep surfaces clean and wash hands frequently.