Small blisters on the hands and feet is a symptom of hand-foot-and-mouth disease. This contagious viral infection, commonly found in young children, may also trigger rashes and blisters in the mouth. If you think your child has this condition, you should contact your doctor immediately.
The virus coxsackievirus A16 causes the infection resulting in hand-foot-and-mouth disease. This virus belongs to the group called nonpolio enterovirusus. The infection spreads person-to-person from contact with saliva, blister fluid or the stool of an infected person. The virus can also spread from coughing and sneezing. Children are most contagious within the first week of this illness, but the virus remains in the body for several weeks after the symptoms are gone. From initial infection to the first signs and symptoms is typically three to seven days, the Mayo Clinic reports.
Symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease may include a red and blistery rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. These blisters are typically not itchy. Blisters may also form on the tongue, gums and inside the cheeks. Most children become irritable and see a loss of appetite, particularly when affected by blisters inside the mouth. Other symptoms include fever and sore throat.
Dehydration is the most common complication of hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Rarely, the virus can infect the brain and cause other complications such as viral meningitis or encephalitis. Viral meningitis is an infection of the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Encephalitis is a disease involving brain inflammation.
There is no treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease because it is caused from a virus. The symptoms will normally disappear in seven to 10 days. Children should keep blisters on the hands and feet clean with lukewarm soap and water. These blisters should also be kept uncovered. If a blister pops, an antibiotic ointment may help prevent infection. Over-the-counter pain medications may relieve any discomfort.
This disease is most common in children in a childcare setting, due to frequent diaper changes, potty training and because children often put their hands in their mouths. Washing hands carefully, disinfecting common areas and avoiding children infected with this virus may help prevent the spread of hand-foot-and-mouth disease.