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As They Grow – Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

We have been so inundated with information about the novel coronavirus in the past several months. This attention, while warranted, can make us forget the other “viruses among us.” Our current social distancing has likely led to a decline in these common childhood diseases. As we begin to open up society in the coming months, these common childhood illnesses will likely return.

One of the most common of these is hand, foot and mouth disease (HFM). This viral illness is often spread in day care centres. It is caused by the coxsackievirus. Children will have blistering lesions around and in the mouth, on the hands and on the feet. There may be a fever at the start of the illness. Some children will have spots in one or two of the areas and not all three. There may also be some irritability and achiness that comes with the onset of HFM. There may also be a red spotty rash over the thighs and buttocks. HFM always resolves on its own but the biggest challenge is the fact that the oral lesions cause pain for children while eating and drinking fluids. This may lead to a reluctance to eat or drink by your child.

The most important thing to do with HFM is to keep your child comfortable. The use of Tylenol or Advil may help with fever and achiness at the start of the illness. These medications may also help with the pain of the oral lesions. Making sure that your child is taking in fluids to prevent dehydration is also important. Popsicles or ice chips may soothe the lesions as well as provide hydration. Some oral rehydration fluids such as Pedialyte come in popsicle form or can be frozen.

Ultimately, once the episode is over it can be marked off as “done” on the checklist of common childhood illnesses to get immunity to!


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