Children's illnesses: fever blisters and hand, foot and mouth disease

31 May 2014

All kids get ill, but what do you do when you’ve got no idea what the treatment should be, or when to rush your child to a doctor? We tell you all you need to know in this series of six articles. The last one looks at fever blisters and hand, foot and mouth disease.

All kids get ill, but what do you do when you’ve got no idea what the treatment should be, or when to rush your child to a doctor? We tell you all you need to know in this series of six articles. The last one looks at fever blisters and hand, foot and mouth disease.

Fever blisters (herpes simplex)

Children’s first association with the fever blister virus can cause an irritating acute infection of the mouth.

It starts with a fever, and painful sores soon appear all over the oral cavity – in the mouth, the insides of the cheeks or on the tongue.

The sores are actually little blisters that soon burst and leave raw spots. At the same time, the gums become red and swollen. The fever and infection can last for a week or more and during that time the child will be ill and irritable.

Because eating is painful, feeding could suffer as a result. It’s especially worrying in the case of children already suffering from malnutrition or other conditions.

Blisters and sores can also appear on the outside of the lips, the fingers (if they’re sucked a lot) and elsewhere.

It can be activated by any infection such as a cold. Many people are carriers of the herpes simplex virus, which has two types.

Type 1 is responsible for most mouth infections in children. Type 2 causes blisters on the sex organs of teenagers and adults and is sometimes sexually transmitted.

Paracetamol three times a day treats the fever and pain. It’s important feeding is continued and small, regular, neutral, milk-based meals are given.

There are effective anti-herpes medications available which can be prescribed especially to children with chronic illnesses, and in difficult cases.

Many forms can cause serious general infections in newborn babies.  Women with genital herpes therefore require special help.

Herpes can cause serious brain infection.

Children with chronic eczema can develop a serious rash if infected with herpes simplex.

Did you know? Once a person is infected, the virus remains in their body for the rest of their life.

Hand, foot and mouth disease

This viral disease occurs mainly in the summer months, often in the form of rashes.

There’s little fever, and the first sign can be a reluctance to eat. A few small sores appear on the tongue or in other places in the mouth.

Shortly afterwards, pearl-shaped blisters appear on the palms and soles, as well as on the outside of the hands and feet. Everything happens within about a week.

It’s a mild infection and doesn’t require treatment.

Although many rash infections aren’t serious, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor when a child develops a rash.

Important

Also read the first article in our series about what to do if your child is feverish, and when you should definitely consult a doctor.

Other childhood diseases:

  • Click here for more about measles and baby measles.
  • Click here for more about German measles and slapped cheek disease.
  • Click here for more about scarlet fever and glandular fever.
  • Click here for more about Kawasaki disease and meningococcal infection.
  • Click here for more about shingles and chicken pox.

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