Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease: Keep Kids Healthy | Loyola Medicine
Thursday, August 23, 2018

Tips to Fight Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease from Loyola Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist

Person washing hands in a sink

MAYWOOD, IL – With an uptick in cases of hand, foot and mouth disease in the area, Loyola Medicine pediatric infectious disease specialist Nadia Qureshi, MD, offers tips to keep kids healthy as they go back to school. 

"The most important prevention is good hand hygiene," Dr. Qureshi said.

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is caused by a virus and it is commonly contracted by children, especially under the age of five. Like the name suggests, it appears as a rash or blisters in the mouth, on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.

The symptoms of HFMD are:

  • Fever
  • Rashes, mainly to the mouth, hands, feet and buttocks, which can blister
  • Blisters to the inside of the mouth or tongue
  • Sore throat
  • Reduced appetite
Dr. Qureshi says she is seeing three to five children with HFMD every day at Loyola Medicine and that many parents confuse the symptoms with chickenpox. 

Like HFMD, chickenpox can appear as a rash. However, the rash with chickenpox typically starts on the trunk of the body and moves outward.

Also, the chickenpox vaccine has a greater than 98 percent immunity with two doses, but there is not a vaccine for HFMD so prevention is key.

The virus is spread through saliva and by touching things. It can survive on environmental surfaces for a long period of time, making the disease especially prone to outbreaks in daycare and schools.

"Babies who have no control over their secretions and are often putting things in their mouth and touching other objects, are at the highest risk of transmission," Dr. Qureshi said.

The best way to prevent the spread of HFMD is good hand hygiene in children and adults. Babies diagnosed with HFMD should be kept at home and schools should be notified so they can thoroughly clean the area.

There is no treatment for HFMD. The illness can last for three to six days. It is important to keep children hydrated, especially since the mouth sores can make it difficult for babies to eat and drink. Children may return to daycare or school when their fever has broken and the sores have healed.


About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.