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Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

What is it?

Viral infection causing a sore throat, blistery rash on hands and feet, ulcers in mouth, and fever. Children 4 months to 6 years old are typically affected. Peak season is summer through early fall.

What does it feel like?

1-2 days of low grade fever, tiredness, and decreased appetite. Then ulcers or sores appear in the back of your child’s throat. A rash on your child’s hands and feet (occasionally also on buttocks) will start to appear about 2 or 3 days into illness. It is sometimes red, sometimes gray, sometimes with blisters.

How long does it last?

Usually a week from start of symptoms to feeling back to normal.

How long is it contagious?

When your child has a fever they are the most contagious. Keep him or her out of daycare/school until no fever for a full 24 hours. You or your child will start showing symptoms 2-6 days after exposure to the virus.

How do I treat it?

It is a viral infection, so antibiotics (which fight bacterial infections) are not helpful. Use Tylenol or ibuprofen to treat throat pain and fever. Lots of liquids are helpful with painful sore throats also. In children over 1 year of age 1/2 teaspoon of honey can help coat the throat and sooth the ulcers.

When do I call the doctor?

Anytime you have concerns do not hesitate to call us. We are here to answer your questions. You can expect to come in and see us if the fever is lasting more than 3 days, fever is higher than 104, or your child has less than 3 wet diapers in 24 hours. Also call if the rash is spreading to your child’s outer lips with sores/ulcers, or your child’s gums are red and swollen.

For further information call our office at 303-666-2720.

This information does not replace consultation with your doctor or nurse.



Zitelli and Davis’ Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis 6th edition pages 472-475

The American Academy of Pediatrics Redbook from the AAP section on Infectious Diseases 29th edition pages 316 – 317


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