Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease can usually be treated at home and serious complications are rare.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is caused by viruses in the Enterovirus family. In the US the most common virus is Coxsackievirus A16. Occasionally, other enteroviruses can cause Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and can be associated with more serious symptoms. Kiddos get Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease when they come into contact with infected saliva, drool, or boogers; other kiddos’ infected blisters and scabs; and other kiddos’ infected poop. The viruses that cause Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease can spread via infected kiddos’ poop for 6-8 weeks after the start of symptoms.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is most common in kids younger than 5 years old. Hand, Foot, and Mouth is incredibly common in daycare and preschool settings and most kiddos will have at least one bout.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is very contagious and spreads easily between kids. Usually adults are protected because they develop immunity as children, but adults can still get infected with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. Preventative measures are important if someone in your family is showing symptoms. Symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth are usually much more severe in adults compared to children.
Hand, Foot and Mouth follows a progression:
The rash looks like slightly raised small bumps of various sizes that may blister and scab. Hand, Foot, and Mouth can look different depending on skin tone:
On lighter skin tones, the bumps tend to have a thin halo of redness.
On darker skin tones, the bumps may appear lighter than the surrounding skin. (Photo via brownskinmatters)
The best way to protect kids from Hand, Foot, and Mouth is handwashing! Since, as we all know, babies and toddlers aren’t the best at handwashing, make sure all the grown-ups in your kid’s life are. If you have an infected family member, be sure to be extra attentive to handwashing in order to prevent the spread in your household.
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is caused by a virus, so there’s no cure. Usually your kiddo’s immune system will fight off the virus in about a week to 10 days. Here are some things you can do to help your kiddo at home:
Most cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease clear up in a week to 10 days. Make sure to contact your healthcare provider if your kiddo still has active sores or fever after the 10-day mark.
Dr. Joanna Zamora is a board-certified pediatrician with over 10 years of clinical experience. Dr. Zamora graduated Summa Cum Laude from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance and Psychology. She attended medical school at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center and completed her pediatric residency training at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Dr. Zamora was born in South Africa, spent her childhood in Canada, and is now happy to call Portland home. Dr. Zamora is passionate about providing trauma-informed care and helping families navigate a complex healthcare system.