A child with red palms and soles of the feet likely has a mild virus called hand, foot and mouth disease. It’s not uncommon for half a daycare class to have this illness at the same time due to the highly contagious nature of the virus and frequent diaper changing within the facility. If you suspect your child has hand, foot and mouth disease, consult with your child’s doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
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Hand, foot and mouth disease starts with a fever less than 102 degrees Fahrenheit that’s accompanied by a sore throat, poor appetite and overall feeling of malaise. A few days after the fever, painful ulcers often develop on your child’s mouth, tongue and side of the cheek. Small blisters or bumps may appear on the palm of your child’s hands and soles of the feet, as well as the buttocks, upper arms, upper legs or genitals. The rash can resemble chickenpox. Blisters outside the mouth do not hurt and rarely itch. The virus often occurs during the summer and early fall and most often affects young children.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is often caused by coxsackie virus, which is spread by the throat and nose secretions of an infected person. The virus is also spread by the fluid inside a blister or the stools of an infected person. Children sharing toys and eating utensils can spread the virus from person to person. If a child coughs, sneezes, laughs or talks near your child, then your child can inhale the secretions and become infected with the virus.
There is no treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease. Antibiotics are ineffective and by the time the ulcers appear, an antiviral medication does not change the duration of the virus. Your doctor may prescribe a mouthwash to numb ulcers in the mouth and make your child more comfortable. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen relieves pain from mouth ulcers and reduces your child’s fever. Ensure your child drinks plenty of fluid to prevent dehydration.
Since the virus is very contagious, your child may not be able to avoid this illness. Frequent hand-washing among all family members reduces your child’s risk of viral infections. Always wash your hands after changing diapers, before eating and after using the restroom. If a sink is unavailable, have your family use a hand sanitizer to minimize germs. Avoid exposing your child to people who appear sick. Keep your child home if he has hand, foot and mouth disease.