Colds, coughs and fevers are common among children. But what if those symptoms are accompanied by a painful rash?
Christelle Ilboudo, MD, a MU Health Care pediatrician, said these symptoms could indicate a virus called hand, foot and mouth disease.
“Hand, foot and mouth disease is a contagious illness that is especially prevalent during the warm months,” she said. “We most frequently see it in infants and children, but it can also be spread to adults.”
Ilboudo, assistant professor of child health and director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the MU School of Medicine, said hand, foot and mouth disease is often spread through body fluids such as saliva and feces. To prevent an outbreak, parents, caretakers and kids should be vigilant about hygiene.
“Be sure to wash surfaces and shared toys several times throughout the day, and encourage kids to wash their hands before meals, after they blow their noses, after they use the restroom and after they play with other kids,” she said.
Treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease involves managing its symptoms, Ilboudo said. Doctors will recommend fever-reducing and pain-relieving medications to help individuals feel more comfortable as the virus runs its course. Typically, the symptoms will subside within seven to 10 days.
“It’s important to visit a doctor to confirm the diagnosis, because several other illnesses can also cause these same symptoms,” Ilboudo said. “If a provider says your child has hand, foot and mouth disease, immediately alert his or her school or daycare so it can take necessary safety precautions.”