Hand foot mouth disease – Keeping germs to ourselves


When children get rashes, we are alerted by the visual signs as well as the emotional toll they take on a child’s wellbeing. Rashes that appear to look like blisters or lesions on a child’s palms or hands, may be the result of hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Fever and soar throat are other symptoms. Sores can also be found in the throat and mouth. Overall, the child seems fussy, and loss of appetite occurs. The age range of 5 to 7 years old is at highest risk. Fortunately, with age, immunity to hand-foot-mouth disease builds strongly.

Person to person contact is how the coxsackievirus 16 infection spreads. Saliva and nose discharge are easy for children to spread during play, especially if coughing and sneezing are involved. It can also spread through stool and the fluid in the blisters. Most places with childcare are vulnerable to hand-foot-mouth because of constant interaction with others as well as diaper changes and bathroom visits. Plus, the virus can stay in the body for weeks even after the child seems to be symptom free. Adults can even be a-symptomatic carriers.  

Hand-foot-mouth disease is normally mild and only lasts a few days. However, those few days are not fun for the child and even drinking water can be painful down the throat with soars in it. As always, basic hand washing is so important. Children should be taught not to put objects in their mouths, so they don’t have to learn the consequences the hard way. They should also know not to put their own fingers in their mouths. Disinfecting surfaces is also important because the virus can live on surfaces for a couple days. This includes doorknobs and even shared toys. If infected, staying away from others is the best thing to do to avoid close contact and continued spread.

There is not a specific treatment for hand-foot-mouth disease. Natural ways to help a child are to give them oatmeal bath and aloe vera on the sores after. Other oils including coconut and tea tree can also provide alleviation. A baking soda bath and Epson salt bath can be helpful. Consuming ginger tea and having garlic can also help soars heal faster especially in the throat. Lavender oil can have an overall calming overalto feel better during a stressful time for a child. Lifestyle changes to naturally avoid touching surfaces that are commonly used or to always wash hands immediately after can be implemented. Early lessons in life translate to adulthood with habitual behaviors. Keeping our germs to ourselves is a good form of being selfish, even if we tell children to share.

Current status of hand-foot-and-mouth disease – PMC (nih.gov)

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)

Clinical Characteristics and Treatment Overview in Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease Using Real-World Evidence Based on Hospital Information System – PMC (nih.gov)

Hand, foot and mouth disease: current knowledge on clinical manifestations, epidemiology, aetiology and prevention | European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (springer.com)

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Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY's Fit. She has a Doctorate in Health and Human Performance, M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, and she's an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She's also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor. She has 6 books on Amazon too,.