Doctor's Notes on Chickenpox vs. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
Chickenpox and hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) are both contagious viral illnesses that commonly affect children and cause a rash. The varicella-zoster virus (VZV) causes chickenpox, while the coxsackievirus typically causes HFMD.
Symptoms and signs of chickenpox and hand, foot, and mouth disease that are similar include:
A difference is the chickenpox rash starts on the torso and spreads outward over the next 7 to 10 days toward the head, arms, and legs, while the HFMD rash develops mainly in the hands, feet, and mouth.
Complications of both illnesses include encephalitis and dehydration. Complications of chickenpox also include skin infection, pneumonia, neurologic problems, and Reye's syndrome if a child takes aspirin to treat the symptoms. A complication of HFMD also includes viral meningitis.
What Is the Treatment for Chickenpox vs. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease?
There are no medical treatments that can cure chickenpox or hand, foot, and mouth disease. In healthy children, these infections typically go away on their own without treatment.
Medications to control pain and fever may be given, and it is important to ensure your child consumes enough liquids to stay hydrated. To relieve the itch in chickenpox, calamine lotion can be applied to the skin, or cool baths with oatmeal, aluminum acetate, or baking soda may be used.
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ChickenpoxChickenpox (varicella) is a highly contagious infection that typically affects children. Symptoms and signs include an itchy red blistering rash that forms first on the torso and then spreads to the extremities. Treatment may incorporate Tylenol or Advil for fever, IV fluids for dehydration, antibiotics for bacterial skin infections, calamine lotion, cool compresses and baths, and Benadryl, Claritin, or Zyrtec for itch relief.
Coxsackievirus vs. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (Hand Foot Mouth Disease)Coxsackieviruses are a common cause of infection. Coxsackievirus infection is contagious and the virus can spread by coming into contact with respiratory secretions from infected patients. Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common childhood illness caused by a virus, coxsackievirus A-16.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth DiseaseHand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a viral illness that is common in children. Symptoms and signs include fever and a blister-like rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet and blisters in the mouth. Treatment focuses on alleviating the symptoms of the infection.
How Long Is A Person Contagious with Hand Foot and Mouth Disease?Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a highly contagious viral infection that causes sores in the mouth, hands, feet, buttocks, and genitals in children. HFMD causes the following symptoms and signs: decreased appetite, sore throat, fever, weakness, and painful sores on the hands, feet, and in the mouth.
Is Chickenpox Contagious?Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). The virus is transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes, releasing airborne droplets which another person may inhale, or if you touch the skin rash. People who have had this infection or a vaccine against it can’t contract it again.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.