Kids' Skin Conditions Popping Up

Hand foot and mouth disease in children on the rise

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Overnight, your perfectly healthy child wakes up with red blisters all over her body, accompanied by a fever and feeling out of sorts.

The cause is a new strain of hand, foot and mouth virus. Cases of this skin condition are popping up in children around the country, but there's no need to panic.

"Wash your hands to keep skin conditions from spreading."

Bernard Cohen, MD, director of pediatric dermatology at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, and colleague Kate Puttgen, MD, have seen or consulted on almost 50 cases of the non-itchy skin rash in the last few months across the nation.

Dr. Cohen believes this is just a fraction of the cases scaring parents and concerning physicians, but he and Dr. Puttgen want to reassure parents that there's no need to worry.

Nearly all patients recover in 7-10 days without treatment or serious complications. Most cases are benign.

The coxsackie A6 virus, which was previously found only in Africa and Asia, causes flat or raised red spots on the hands and feet, and may be accompanied by mouth sores, fever, and malaise, or feelings of discomfort.

The virus is an unusual strain of the common virus that usually causes the disease.

“We’ve talked with many of our pediatric dermatology colleagues around the country and the number of cases and the severity of the rash is clearly new and different from the typical hand, foot and mouth disease we are used to seeing,” adds Dr. Puttgen.

“The good news is that it looks bad but hasn’t actually caused severe symptoms for our patients.”

Researchers advise washing hands frequently and practicing good hygiene to keep the virus at bay.

Children with immune deficiencies, cancer, or other serious conditions, Dr. Cohen says, should contact their pediatrician to catch the incident before it starts and treat complications early.

"Most parents worry about the sores on the hands and mouth and throat," said Dr. Glenn Kolansky, a board certified dermatologist in New Jersey.

"Honestly, hand washing and covering your mouth is what you need to know. The biggest culprit is parents bringing their children to daycare when they know they're sick."

If the child is healthy otherwise, pediatricians do not need to refer patients to specialists if they recognize the symptoms, the researchers say.

The disease should not be confused with foot-and-mouth disease, which is caused by a different virus and is an infection of a variety of farm animals. 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 29, 2012
Last Updated:
October 19, 2012