School is back in session and there are many pesky viruses rearing their ugly heads! Hand, Foot, and Mouth (HFM) disease is a common childhood viral illness. It is most common in infants and children under seven years of age; however, it can occur at any age. HFM disease is most prevalent in summer and early fall. It is spread through stool and respiratory secretions. The incubation period for is 3-5 days-a person usually develops symptoms 3-5 days after an exposure to someone with it.
The most common symptoms of HFM disease are fever, mouth/throat pain, and rash. The rash, as the name implies, is present on the hands, feet, and face; however, it can also occur on other areas of the body. The rash consists of red spots/bumps which progress to blisters and ulcers. Painful blisters also form in the mouth/throat. Fever typically does not last longer than 3-4 days and the rash/mouth sores usually last no more than 7-10 days.
Treatment of hand, foot and mouth disease consists of supportive measures/symptom management. Antibiotics will not treat this illness. Pain can be managed with acetaminophen and ibuprofen as needed. Pain management is essential to keep a child comfortable enough to continue to drink fluids. Children who are unable to drink enough fluids to maintain proper hydration may need hydration with intravenous fluids-this is uncommon. A child can return to school/childcare when the child has been at least 24 hours fever-free, even if blisters aren’t fully resolved. Exceptions might be made if the child has many open blisters that might require further care. Frequent hand washing is key to preventing the spread of this virus. If you suspect your child has HFM disease I recommend evaluation by your pediatrician or local pediatric urgent care.
Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care opened in 2006 in San Antonio, Texas. With multiple locations in San Antonio and Dallas, they are open seven days a week with extended evening hours. They accept most commercial insurance and Medicaid plans. More information about Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care can be found at www.littlespurspedi.com.