It’s summertime, even though the outside temperature may not reflect it! Even in summer, kids can get sick. A common summertime illness is Hand Foot and Mouth (HFM). It has no relation to Hoof and Mouth. HFM is caused by a virus, usually Coxsackie A-16.
Children age 6 months to 4 years old are most susceptible, but it can happen in any age. Fever can be present, generally not more than 102° F. Small blisters or red spots can happen on the palms, soles and buttocks, but sometimes you can see them on other areas of the body. Small ulcers in the mouth are typical. Because of the ulcers, the child may not want to eat solid foods. Sometimes, the ulcers are so severe that the child doesn’t even want to drink! It is rare, but a child may need to be admitted to the hospital for dehydration.
Recovery from HFM takes about 7 to 10 days. The main things for parents to do are to encourage drinking fluids, give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever and pain. Sometimes, your child’s doctor may recommend “Magic Mouthwash” – a 1:1 ratio of Maalox or Mylanta and liquid diphenydramine (Benadryl). It is generally given four times a day and your child’s doctor will tell you the dose/amount. HFM can be contagious; it is most contagious before the rash pops up, so the “damage is done” before you even know that your child is sick. Once the fever breaks, the child is no longer contagious and can return to daycare or camp. Good hand washing is the main way to prevent infection.
For more information, please visit www.healthychildren.org
Have a healthy summer!