Dealing with hand, foot and mouth disease in kids

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From colds to flu and ear infections – winter can be tough on kids. But germs don’t disappear when the weather gets warm.

We recently got this email from a viewer:

Dear Dr. Manny,
My daughter's day care sent home a note saying she may have been exposed to hand, foot and mouth disease from someone in her class. What is it and what can I do to protect her?

Hand, foot and mouth disease is an infection caused by coxsackievirus. It’s more common in warmer weather, or year-round in areas with warmer climates.

Kids in child care centers and schools are very susceptible to contracting it because it is spread through person-to-person contact.

Symptoms usually begin to show three to six days after exposure and can include:

  • Fever;
  • Painful blisters on the tongue, gums and inside the cheeks;
  • Red rash on the palms of hands and soles of the feet;
  • Sore throat;
  • Irritability or crankiness; 
  • And loss of appetite.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent it if your child has been exposed. The best thing you can do is make her as comfortable as possible for the seven to 10 days it lasts if she comes down with it, and call your doctor to have her evaluated.

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