An Infant's Rash on the Feet

Close up of baby's bare feet
Keep your baby's feet healthy. (Image: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc../Blend Images/Getty Images)

A rash on your infant’s foot often is caused by hand, foot and mouth disease. HFMD is common viral illness that is spread easily in day care centers by both caregivers and other children. Your doctor performs a simple exam of your infant’s feet and hands, as well as throat, to make a proper diagnosis.

Identification

HFMD usually begins with a sore throat and low-grade fever. Your infant seems irritable, refuses to eat and sleeps more than usual. In a few days, the fever subsides, but irritability increases as you begin noticing several ulcers on the hard and soft palates of your child’s mouth. These mouth sores are soon followed by a rash that appears on the soles of your infant’s feet, as well as the palms of his hands and possibly his buttocks. The rash is not itchy. It’s possible your infant only develops the rash without the mouth ulcers or vice versa.

Cause

HFMD is caused by the Coxsackie virus and is most common during the summer and early fall. The virus is highly contagious and spread by throat and nose secretions, feces and fluid from the blisters. Day cares are breeding grounds for the virus because of frequent diaper changing and the handling of infants. Any time an infected child sneezes, coughs, laughs, talks or places a toy in his mouth, she is increasing the risk of spreading the virus to others.

Treatment

HFMD has no treatment other than making your infant comfortable. Get permission from your baby's doctor to give your infant acetaminophen to reduce his fever and relieve pain from mouth ulcers. Your doctor gives you the proper dosage information based off your baby's weight. A mouth wash is sometimes prescribed to be dabbed on mouth ulcers. Keep the rash on your baby's feet and hands clean with mild soap and water. Encourage your baby to breastfeed or formula feed frequently to reduce the risk of dehydration. Some baby's nurse more frequently since suckling is soothing to most babies. The symptoms typically disappear in seven to 10 days. Call your doctor any time an infant under 3 months has a fever, even if it's under 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prevention

Wash your hands frequently, especially after changing your baby’s diaper and before feedings. If you have other members in your household, enforce strict hand-washing policies, especially if you have other children. If no sink is available for proper hand washing, use liquid hand sanitizers. Wash toys and frequently touched surfaces with diluted beach. Since your baby is infected with HFMD, keep her home from day care until the rash and mouth ulcers disappear.

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