This post is also available in: Svenska
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral infection that causes blisters in the mouth and blisters or dark rashes on the hands and feet. Hence the name: hand, foot and mouth. And in Swedish, hand, foot and mouth disease is known as Autumn blisters, as the disease often becomes an epidemic in the autumn, especially among kindergarten children.
Explore our visual guide to children’s rashes and spots
Symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease
Fever, blisters in the mouth, and rashes or blisters on the hands and feet are typical symptoms of the disease. Rashes on the hands and feet can itch and hurt.
The blisters in the mouth can hurt as well and may make eating difficult. Read more about what you can do to treat the blisters in and around the mouth in the blog post titled Mouth blisters in children.
Nails may fall off
Sometimes, after a child has blistered, there have been occurrences where the nails have fallen off. Blisters can form under the nails and cause the nails to fall off within a few weeks. It looks strange, but it’s not dangerous and normal nails will grow back.
Rare cases of meningitis
In rare cases, the virus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease can also cause meningitis. It is often benign and transient. Symptoms include headache, sensitivity to light, nausea and manifests in whining. If your child has these symptoms, seek the pediatric emergency department.
Read more about meningitis in children
How to treat hand, foot and mouth disease?
It is important that your child drinks plenty of fluid. If your child is in pain, you need to coax them with juice or ice cream. If your child does not drink, becomes dull and stops urinating, you need to seek the emergency room.
With the blisters on the hands and feet, you will just have to wait it out. Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease the pain if the blisters hurt. There is no medication to treat hand, foot and mouth disease, so there is no need to see the doctor. If your child is alert and drinks fluids, no medical care is needed.
Read more about acetaminophen and ibuprofen for children
Hand, foot and mouth disease spread in kindergartens
Hand, foot and mouth disease is highly contagious. There is nothing you can do to prevent the infection in a preschool where an outbreak is taking place. Therefore, there is no medical reason to force children to stay at home if they are still able to participate in the daily activities at the preschool.
The incubation period for hand, foot and mouth disease is 3-7 days.
What causes hand, foot and mouth disease?
Several different viruses from the enterovirus group can cause the disease. The most common one is the cocksackie virus.
Not sure what your child has? Read the popular red spots and rashes in children – a visual guide
Blisters in the mouth in children
Meningitis in children – fever, headache, neck stiffness or sore neck
Chickenpox in children – infection, patterns, incubation period
Impetigo in children – infection and treatment