Hand, foot and mouth

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common childhood illness caused by the coxsackie virus (and sometimes other enteroviruses). The disease spreads via respiratory droplets, fluid from blisters or stool. It is a mild and self-limiting illness. 

The rash presents as initially as small macular lesions on the dorsal and palmar surfaces of the hands and feet. These progress to small vesicles which last about a week and then resolve, without leaving scars.  Small vesicles and ulcers are often present around the mouth, lips, palate and pharynx.

Treatment for the virus is not required but children often need pain relief for discomfort in and around the mouth which can prevent adequate oral intake. Simple analgesia, oral anaesthetic spray (e.g. 0.15% benzydamine hydrochloride) and ice lollies are often useful. There is no need to exclude children from school or childcare.