What to Watch for: Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Dr. Nicole Baumann-Blackmore

Dr. Nicole Baumann-Blackmore

Summer is a time for children to play outside, be active, and enjoy freedom from the classroom. However, summer is also the season when some of the most common pediatric illnesses rear their ugly heads. One of these illnesses that is showing up recently in children in the Madison area is Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (HFMD).

HFMD is a viral illness that typically occurs during the summer months in children ages 10 years and younger. The usual symptoms include fever, mouth sores and a rash. The fever is often the first symptom to develop. This is typically followed by the development of blisters in the mouth, and sometimes on the hands and feet (hence the name!). Some children may also develop this blistery rash on their buttocks and genitals. As one can imagine, with these blisters, children may refuse to walk, eat or drink and may cry with urination.

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for HFMD. The most important steps a parent can take to help their child through this illness is to give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for comfort and fever reduction and to make sure that the child is getting plenty of fluids. Children with HFMD are at risk for dehydration because the mouth pain prevents them from drinking enough liquids. Offering popsicles or soup can help to soothe the throat while also providing fluids.

If you fear that your child may have become dehydrated or have other complications from HFMD, please contact your child’s primary care provider.

The best way to fight HFMD is through stopping the spread of the virus. Help children have a happy and healthy summer…teach them good hand washing!

Dr. Nicole Baumann-Blackmore
Medical Director, Pediatric Hospitalist Program
Meriter Hospital

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