It breaks a parent’s heart to see their baby struggle in any way. Sickness, in particular, is especially difficult to watch one’s child go through. There are ups and downs, but usually until the virus has run its course, babies who often have a hard time understanding a lot of things that older kids and adults take for granted, such as having to adjust to pain, discomfort, and medicine to get better. There are lots of viruses out there that babies and older children can catch. One of the most common is hand, foot and mouth disease.
This is a virus that causes a rash of red spots to break out into various parts of the children’s body, primarily as the virus states, the hand, foot and mouth. It is extremely contagious as other flus, and babies must usually stay away from other members of the family not to infect them, just as they would if they had the flu, a bad cold or anything else.
There are more uncomfortable side effects associated with this virus than others, and of course all babies are affected a little differently. The important thing, as for all bugs, is that parents monitor their baby carefully and consistently and make whatever changes they can to make sure baby is as comfortable as they possibly can be, and can make a smooth and quick recovery. What are the signs that baby has hand, foot and mouth disease? Here are 14 of them:
14 If Baby Is Generally Feeling Unwell
This is a very normal feeling to have when we have any kind of virus. Hand, foot and mouth disease may also be preceded by a feeling of general malaise and a feeling of being unwell. What can look like a baby misbehaving and being fussy, may actually be the baby feeling sick and unwell due to coming down with a physical virus. If baby is taking some food and liquid, and the fever is being controlled by acetaminophen, then parents are doing all they can. Acetaminophen can also help relieve pain in the baby’s mouth which is caused by sores.
A parent should check with their pharmacist to see how much is safe to give their baby. They need only contact their doctor if mouth sores keep a baby from consuming enough liquids and the child’s symptoms worsen. However, for a child under three months, it is important to see a doctor right away if baby has a fever.
13 If Baby Has Painful Red Blisters Inside Of Cheeks
One of the characteristic signs of hand, foot, and mouth disease are painful red blisters on the inside of the baby’s cheek. This is unpleasant and hard to see at first, but eventually parents will see it, especially as they begin to rule out other problems for baby’s discomfort. Once the red blisters appear, it will take about eight to ten days for them to disappear and baby to feel better. Though it is uncomfortable, it is not a fatal illness, and as long as baby is monitored and kept at home, instead of daycare, to recover fully (that is no fever and all spots gone), they should end up doing fine.
This illness is caused by secretions for the mouth, nose, fluid from blisters and stool. Due to baby’s putting their hands in their mouth and not having the best oral hygiene, this is how the virus is spread the fastest.
12 If Baby Has A Sore Throat
Who has not been plagued by a sore throat, baby, child or adult, when they have had a virus? It hurts, it feels swollen, and is not fun in any way possible. But imagine how helpless a little baby who cannot verbalize their feelings feel when they experience pain and do not know what is causing it? This is particularly difficult, as they feel bad and don’t know what to do to help themselves.
That is where Mom and Dad come on. They need to be on the lookout right away for a virus when their child has a sore throat. It could be the flu, gastro, or hand, foot and mouth disease. With time and symptoms, they will soon see what is amiss. If red spots start to appear, they need to make sure pain medicine is near and begin practicing proper protocols such as sanitizing themselves so as not to spread this nasty bug.
11 If Baby Has Loss Of Appetite
Many people, including babies, experience a loss of appetite right before getting sick. This is actually one of the top signs that foot and mouth disease is starting. It is preceded by a symptom of a sore throat and poor appetite. Shortly after seeing many of these symptoms, sores and lesions will appear on the mouth and tongue as well as on other parts of the body. This is particularly hard for parents, as babies may not want to eat or drink during this period. However, it is mandatory that they stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids and trying to eat when they can, even if they are eating lightly.
Caregivers should do their best to encourage small amounts of food and drink and watch babies closely for signs of serious distress. As long as they are not showing signs of high fever or vomiting, parents can watch them closely at home. Otherwise, they need to take baby into the hospital to rule out any other medical measures that may need to be taken. Also offering extra water is a good thing as it will help keep baby hydrated. Cooler liquids are also the better way to go, as hot liquids may cause more pain in baby’s mouth.
10 If Baby Has Red Blisters On Palms
Another common side effect of this disease is red blisters on palms. Caused by the same reason as the spots appearing in other parts of the body; contaminated saliva, stool, nasal secretions etc., a child needs to be monitored that they are not touching their skin to surfaces and causing further contamination. As well, like other viruses that spread easily, they need to stay away from other family members for as much as they can, not to increase contamination potential. Adults can be carriers to others while not showing symptoms themselves.
As with the other signs, parents need to monitor them so that if they see fever getting higher, complete loss of appetite, baby wetting fewer diapers, they know it is time to see the doctor and find out what other steps can be taken. This particular side effect can be particularly uncomfortable as baby cannot even scratch themselves or they will make the situation worse.
9 If Baby Has Red Blisters On Buttocks
Red blisters on buttocks mean the inconveniences of all of the signs already mentioned above, plus the fact that it is happening in an area that is constantly being subjected to stool, pee and clothing changes. Material being put on and taken off will run its course and the area will become even more abrasive and uncomfortable for baby. It will also become complicated for Mom or Dad in taking care of cleaning and redressing it, while not becoming contaminated with the virus themselves.
The same rules of care apply here as with the other blisters. Cold compresses, care in keeping the area clean, providing pain relief, and in general just watching that baby does not become worse is all that parents can do. As long as baby’s fever does not go up even higher, and lethargy does not worsen, parents do not have anything to worry about. It will all heal in time.
8 If Baby Has Red Blisters On Gums
Ouch. Just trying to picture this one sounds painful even for adults. Imagine a poor little one with this problem? How are they supposed to eat and drink? What about if they are teething? Oh, the pain these little ones will then endure. All a parent can do for them at this point is provide something cold to soothe aching gums, try and give small portions of breastmilk or formula, and provide baby with children’s pain medication to soothe their sore muscles and throat.
This is not fun and is one of the most difficult things about this disease. Parents need to remember that it is not fatal however. Baby will get over it in about six to ten days. It just means bearing with them in the meantime and helping relive most of their major discomforts. The sooner baby is able to rest, the sooner baby is able to get better and stay better.
7 If Baby Is Dehydrated
Dehydration is caused when baby is not getting enough to drink during the course of a day. This happens due to drinking becoming uncomfortable for baby most likely because of lesions. Fever also does not encourage an appetite or desire for water. This is dangerous, however, as the human body needs water to thrive, survive and grow. Without it, babies and even older children and adults are in danger.
At the first sign of dehydration or suspected dehydration, baby needs to be brought into the hospital where he/she will be re-hydrated and put back on the road to physical health. They may become dizzy or disoriented. They make become lethargic. These are all signs to watch for when dehydration is suspected. Complications can include things like meningitis and pneumonia, but are very rare. Also, due to the fact that it is a virus, there are no ways to treat it with antibiotics. It has to just run its course.
6 If It Lasts 6 To 10 Days
And similar to any virus, the hand, food and mouth virus lasts anywhere from six to ten days. It has to run its course like any virus, so parents have to take the ups and downs of it and help their babies through it the best way possible. The rash does not usually itch so a soothing cream can help stop babies from picking at scabs. Pain medicine can help with the soreness that the virus causes, and anything that seems alarming like the virus is getting worse needs to be checked out immediately.
The best way to discourage this virus coming back, (as there are as many strains here as with colds), is through frequent hand washing and good general hygiene routines. Little ones should also not put toys in their mouths, their hands in their mouths, cough or sneeze in the air, or anything that could easily put viruses or germs out there for others to catch and keep the unfortunate gift going.
5 If Baby Has A Fever
Fever is another indication, (and usually one of the first signs) that something is not right. If there is no evidence of a cold, vomiting, diarrhea or other symptoms, it is important for parents to check for lesions or rashes on the hands, feet and in the mouth. It will shortly appear in there if indeed it is this virus. As mentioned before, a low grade fever is considered normal. A high grade one may also occur, but it is mandatory Mom and Dad monitor and see that the fever does not go up too high.
If it does, especially if baby in on medication, baby needs to be brought into the hospital right away and be looked at. Fever in general is usually the body’s way of saying something is off so it is important we pay attention to that. We can learn a lot, then watch for other signs of what we need to do next to ensure that baby gets as healthy as he/she possibly can.
4 If Baby Develops A Headache
Headache is a normal side effect to a virus that throws the entire body into an uproar. It can also be exacerbated by lack of food, water, and not sleeping well due to all the aforementioned symptoms. It is hard for babies to tell parents how they are feeling. After all, they cannot talk or express themselves with words yet. Parents need to learn to be good detectives and see what their babies are doing, how they are reacting to things around them, and then determine whether they give baby pain medicine or not.
If the medicine means baby will be comfortable to eat, drink and sleep, then it is important to provide them with that. It becomes part of the healing process. Babies will be grouchy, sore, and overtired. It is understandable. Still, parents need to do what they can to give their little ones some relief so that they can get better faster and become immune to the virus.
3 If Baby Stops Playing In Daycare
If a teacher sees a baby performing poorly in daycare, either by looking over tired, lethargic, irritable, testy and crying a lot, she should definitively look closely for signs of a virus coming on, including hand, foot and mouth disease. Remembering that irritability is right up there at the beginning as a symptom, it is important not to rule out this disease right from the beginning. An easy way to spot it is by looking for the visible legions, or else keeping an eye out in the next few days following to see if anything shows up that is unusual or points to a virus. Sometimes a baby could be overly excited or hyper too, and this is a not like them. This is when parents need to watch closely and see what starts to turn up that could point to a virus, and not just a bad day. It is important to be a good detective.
2 If Baby Seems Lethargic
Lethargy is one of the most common symptoms of the beginning of any virus. Baby is not alert, happy, eating or sleeping well. Parents need to adjust the routine to try and meet all these needs in a new way. If they can’t, it’s time to watch if any cold or flu symptoms begin to happen. It can’t hurt to be on alert, as in most cases it does turn into something and baby is best served if parents are watching out for anything unusual right from the beginning.
Try increasing food and liquid intake for baby, and parents need to try and make sure baby sleeps more. Sleep will help in fighting off a virus a lot faster than if the baby becomes or is overtired. That will make fighting off a virus, or ruling one out, a lot tougher. Parents have to trust themselves and see that they can give their child what is right for them.
1 If Baby Is Vomiting Or Has Diarrhea
This is quite true, that often times hand, foot and mouth disease can cause vomiting or diarrhea or both. Fortunately, however, this is rare which is a good thing. Vomiting and diarrhea are more often part of other flu viruses and strains. If they do occur in conjunction with the other symptoms, the same thing is required as would be for any stomach flu: rest, liquids when the baby is able to keep it down, and pain medication, once again, if baby is able to keep the medication down.
The doctor is then likely to order rest, medication, water and fluids, light food or meals to eat throughout the day. Parents also need to make sure baby is getting his/her rest and usual routine to keep them feeling good and engaged. No child will be happy throughout any virus, but if it seems the little one is really uncomfortable, parents will need to make some changes.
So there they are, 14 signs that baby has hand, foot and mouth disease. As with any virus or disease, the more parents arm themselves with accurate information, the quicker baby can get healthy and back on their feet again leaning, growing and playing.
Sources: Mayo Clinic, BabyCenter, Today’s Parent