Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

It is very frightening when an infant or child has a high fever. It can indicate a serious illness or it can be a common not-so-serious illness. But either way, parents are anxious when their child spikes a high fever and is in discomfort. Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common, contagious illness that can make a child feel pretty sick but generally resolves without complications. (Although the names are similar, it is NOT hoof and mouth disease, which only affects farm animals!) The most common complication is dehydration so encourage your child to drink liquids. 

The State of CT, Department of Public Health has been receiving an increased number of phone calls about this illness. The information provided by Healthy Children.org will answer many of the questions you may have. 

This illness can cause dehydration because it can cause blisters in the mouth which can be painful.  Mayo Clinic has described some actions you can take to help reduce this pain: 

  • Suck on ice pops or ice chips.
  • Eat ice cream or sherbet.
  • Drink cold beverages, such as milk or ice water.
  • Avoid acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits, fruit drinks and soda.
  • Avoid salty or spicy foods.
  • Eat soft foods that don't require much chewing.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm water after meals.

If your child is able to rinse without swallowing, swishing with warm salt water may be soothing. Have your child do this several times a day or as often as needed to help reduce the pain and inflammation of mouth and throat sores caused by hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

There is no specific treatment for this illness. To help prevent this illness and other cold-like illnesses, teach your child to wash hands frequently, avoid touching their eyes and nose, keep fingers out of the mouth, and cover coughs and sneezes. When children (and adults) are ill, they should not be at school or work. Stay home and rest.