How To Tell If Your Kid's Rash Is From Chickenpox Or Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease

Any time your kid gets sick can be scary, especially when red skin rashes are involved. So knowing how to tell the subtle differences between coxsackievirus and chickenpox is important info for all parents. They are different viral infections that have similar looking symptoms, which can get super confusing and concerning.

First, consider the Coxsackievirus. Although its name may not be immediately familiar, you've probably heard of the condition it causes. Hand, foot, and mouth disease is an infection caused by the Coxsackievirus, as explained by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). Most commonly affecting children under the age of 10, hand, foot, and mouth disease is often characterized by the blister-like rash it causes to appear on the skin, as further explained by the NYSDOH. The rash associated with Coxsackievirus tends to appear on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and inside the mouth, according to Medicine Net.

In addition, children affected by the Coxsackievirus often experience mild flu-like symptoms, nausea, or headaches, as noted in Kids Health. Although the symptoms and rash may alarm parents, the coxsackievirus infection is generally not problematic and often resolves within about a week, as noted in the Mayo Clinic.

Chickenpox is another matter entirely. Caused by the varicella-zoster virus, chickenpox is a contagious infection that produces a red rash all over the skin, as noted in WebMD. The chickenpox rash is notoriously itchy, red, and blistered in appearance, according to Medicine Net. Once you've encountered this nasty rash, it's something you'll never forget.

The vast majority of cases affect young kids, and children under the age of 2 are at the highest risk for chickenpox, as further explained in WebMD. People who have been vaccinated against the infection may experience a milder version of the disease, whereas people with compromised immune systems or those over the age of 12 are likely to get a serious case of chicken pox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basically, chickenpox gets worse with age. If you have to get a case of it, then it's better to deal with when you're young.

Because both of these viral infections can result in skin rashes, fatigue, and general feelings of illness, it's difficult to tell the difference between chickenpox and Coxsackievirus by sight alone. But there are distinctions. The chickenpox blisters tend to be extremely itchy, and they crust over after about a day, as noted in Hudson Valley Today. (Yeah, it's a super gross infection overall.) On the other hand, the Coxsackievirus infection can cause a painful red rash that tends to appear on the hands, feet, and mouth, as further explained by Hudson Valley Today. In general, all-over itchy marks may point toward chickenpox, whereas a painful rash limited to the hands, feet, and mouth could be Coxsackievirus.

That said, it's a great idea to visit your pediatrician immediately if your kid is experiencing any rash and other illness symptoms. Only a doctor's checkup can really determine the cause of your kid's malady. Hopefully, though, your child won't have a tough time with either of these infections.