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. In Swedish, hand, foot and mouth disease is höstblåsor. It translates to ‘Autumn blisters’ as the disease often turns into epidemics in the autumn, especially amongst kindergarten children.
Symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease
Fever, blisters in the mouth and rashes or blisters on the hands and feet are typical symptoms. The rash on the hands and feet can itch and hurt. Sometimes blisters can form under the nails and the nails can fall off within a few weeks of having the disease. This isn’t dangerous. The nails will grow back.
Blisters in the mouth can hurt. Read more about what to do in the post titled Blisters in the mouth in children.
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 whininess. If your child gets these symptoms, seek the pediatric emergency room.
What to do about 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 liquid or ice cream. If the child does not drink, becomes dull and stops urinating, you need to seek the emergency room.
There’s not much you can do with the blisters on the hands and feet. You will just have to wait it out. Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen if the blisters hurt. There is no medicine to treat hand, foot and mouth disease, so it makes no sense to seek medical care for that reason. If your child is alert and drinks fluids, no medical care is needed.
Hand, foot and mouth spread in preschools
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. There is, therefore, no medical reason to allow children to stay at home if they are able to participate in the daily activities at the preschool.
The incubation period for hand, foot and mouth disease is 3-7 days.
Nails may fall off
After a child has had their blisters, there have been occurences where the nails have fallen off. It looks strange, but it’s not dangerous. Normal nails grow back.
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.