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Doc Talk: Hand, foot and mouth disease

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There’s nothing more concerning to a parent than seeing their child sick, especially when it involves red bumps or blisters appearing on their bodies. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is a viral infection that causes fever and red bumps or blisters on the hands, feet or mouth. If a child is struggling with hand, foot and mouth disease, doctors say there’s not too much about which to worry.

Just like the flu, there’s not much to do once a child is diagnosed with a viral infection like hand, foot and mouth disease.

“There’s really no treatment. Since it’s a viral illness, there’s really nothing that will make a virus go away other than your body’s immune system fighting it off,” said Holy Spirit pediatrician Jennifer Still.

She says the disease is most common in kids under the age of five. It may seem serious because of the red bumps and blisters that form as one of the symptoms. They may appear on either the hands, feet, mouth or all three.

While there’s not much to do to treat the virus itself, “you want to treat the symptoms of the illness,” explained Dr. Still.

Dr. Still recommends Tylenol or Ibuprofen for pain and fever and staying hydrated, especially if faced with throat ulcers.

“The ulcers in the mouth can cause some pains with swallowing and eating, so keeping things kind of cool with liquids, popsicles, and soft foods that are easier to swallow."

According to Dr. Still, blisters usually last about two to three days but can last up to a week. Kids can return to school or daycare 24 hours after the blisters go away.

As for prevention, the disease spreads like anything else.

“The virus causes the illness, and the virus typically spreads through someone who’s infected. [It’s from] either their saliva or mucus from their nose or sometimes if they’ve just gotten it on their hands and transferred it to other objects,” said Dr. Still.

The best defense against hand, foot and mouth disease, according to Dr. Still, is hand washing and hand sanitizer, especially since the virus can come back again and again.

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