If your baby or toddler has peeling or blistering skin on their hands or feet, it may be caused by something far more serious than dry skin. While over the counter medications and creams may have caused the irritations to subside, your child may be at hidden threat called Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. While the occasional dry skin and blisters are normal occurrences for anyone, Hand Foot and Mouth Disease is something that covers larger areas, and can be quite painful at times. If your little one is experiencing these symptoms it is possible they have obtained this virus and you should seek medical attention.
Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a virus that is caused by the viruses’ coxasackievirus a16 and extrerovirus 71, or often called coxsacki virus from professionals. The virus is more evident in children from the ages of five years and younger, but older adolescents and adults have been known to come in contact with the virus as well. Much like the common cold the early symptoms of HFMD are sore throat, fever, and loss of appetite. Children will then show signs of being irritable and obtain mild forms of a rash, blisters, or sores. Sometimes they can obtain all three. The rash and blisters can spread from the palms of their hands and feet to the knees, elbows, buttocks, and genitals. The sores have been known to be the most painful part, and they can be found in the mouth, on the tongue, and even on other parts of the body.
Although HFMD can be uncomfortable it usually lasts only 3 to 10 days; however, it is untreatable with prescription medications. If your child is having a hard time consuming certain foods and liquids you can try various over the counter drugs such as Advil or Tylenol. Cold snacks such as popsicles and yogurt can be used to numb the pain and make it easier to eat foods. Anti-itch creams can also help with the rash and the itchiness it brings.
It’s important to know even after the symptoms have diminished, the virus is still in your child’s system. Before you send them back to school or out into the world there are still precautions you should make to stop the spread of HFMD. Hand Foot and Mouth can only be spread from someone who is infected, which means anything they touch can possible infect someone else. The virus can even be spread through the air from a cough or a sneeze. To stop the spread from your child to someone else you will need to make sure to wash your hands with soap and water after every diaper change and after using the bathroom, make sure your toddler does the same and washes their hands throughout the day, clean and disinfect frequently, which means all surfaces, toys, etc., and avoid close contact.
If the conditions worsen it’s important to seek medical attention right away because when not taken care of the virus can turn into viral meningitis or encephalitis, which causes brain inflammation.