In the early stages, hand, foot and mouth disease can be mistaken for the flu as the symptoms include fever that lasts for 2-4 days and muscle pain. As the infection spreads, small red blisters appear, mostly on the inside of the mouth, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet – hence the name ‘hand, foot and mouth disease’. The blisters contain small bubbles of fluid, which eventually break and turn into ulcers.
In the majority of cases, the symptoms will disappear after 5-7 days. However, hand, foot and mouth disease can cause severe and potentially fatal complications, including meningitis, encephalitis, paralysis, and myocarditis. Please note that the potential for these complications is not related to the number of blisters a patient has, so children should be monitored closely during the first 1-2 weeks of the illness, even if the blisters have cleared up.
Take your child to see a doctor immediately if you observe any of these symptoms:
- Vague feeling of being unwell, loss of appetite
- Apathy, tired and pale appearance
- Severe headaches
- Nausea, vomiting
- Confusion, hallucinations
- Neck pain, stiff neck
- Startle reflex; shaking of the body, arms or hands
- Coughing, rapid breathing, and excessive phlegm, with or without fever