Hand foot and mouth disease – coxsackie virus
Hand foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a viral infection predominately seen in children (under 10 years) and young adults. The viral infection is very common, easily spread but rarely causes complications.
Signs and symptoms
The following signs and symptoms generally develop three to seven days after exposure to an infected person, the duration of the virus is usually seven to ten days.
- Poor appetite.
- Complain of a sore throat.
- Tiny blisters inside the mouth, including blisters around the tongue, palms, fingers, soles of the feet and the genital region.
- The small blisters are generally not itchy like the chickenpox blisters.
How does my child catch this virus?
When a child or young adult comes in contact with the fluid from inside the blisters, they will most probably become infected. Transmission is as simple as coming into contact with a droplet from a sneeze or cough. The virus is also known to be present in faeces for several weeks, so those with young babies be mindful when out and about using public nappy change facilities.
Is there a vaccine or cure for the coxsakie virus?
There is currently no vaccine or cure for this common viral infection.
I’m pregnant, my toddler has the virus, will my unborn baby be safe?
There is no current evidence indicating the virus is a risk for pregnant women and their unborn baby.
What do I do if my child develops this common virus?
Being that HFMD is a virus, antibiotics will not be prescribed for this infection. The key management is making the child comfortable. Analgesia can be given for the pain and fever associated with the virus. Children will often complain of a sore throat and be off their food as the blisters are painful, so ensure you keep them comfortable and offer your child frequent sips of fluids to avoid dehydration.
Encourage your child to avoid touching and breaking the blisters, allow them to dry naturally.
Observe your child for signs their illness is not improving and if they complain of a headache, back pain or neck stiffness, seek medical advice immediately.