Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease, also called HFMD, is a contagious disease caused by different viruses. It is a common disease amongst infants and young children under the age of 10. Hand-foot-and-mouth disease in children marks fever, rashes on the hands, feet, and buttock, soreness in the mouth etc. The disease is usually not serious and it takes a week or two to recover from the illness. Practicing good hygiene and proper medications (for relieving pain) can reduce the effect and risk of infection. Let us discuss in detail about the disease, HFMD symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention.
Facts about Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Children
Causes and How it Spreads?
The viruses called coxsackievirusa 16 and enterovirus 71 usually cause HFMD. HFMD mostly affects infants, toddlers, younger children. However, the adults can get the disease too. The disease spreads through skin-to-skin contact (hugs or handshakes), saliva (sharing foods, drinks or kissing), and airborne respiratory droplets (sneezes or coughs). HFMD in children can spread through the contact with someone who already has the disease. Your child can also catch the disease from a thing that has been in contact with the said virus, like a soft toy, doorknob or a countertop.The disease tends to spread in the summer season.
The symptoms of HFMD include fever and soreness of throat. Other most common HFMD symptoms are painful blisters quite similar to cold sores on your child’s tongue and inside of the mouth, rash on the palms or feet, flat spots on the elbows, knees, and buttock. The affected person can get only one or two symptoms or all the symptoms together. A sore throat can lead to painful circumstances that can occur while your child swallows the food. Keep your child hydrated and make sure that he gets enough calories and water. HFMD-affected people may also experience fatigue, dehydration, loss of appetite, headache, cough, and irritability.
How Long Does Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Last?
The disease is usually self-treatable and short-term. It takes a week or two to cure. The virus can clear up on its own within 10-12 days. However, some medications help in relieving the painful symptoms.
There is no particular vaccine or medication for treating HFMD. However, you can ease out the pain with over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Never use aspirin for relieving pain. Children may get seriously ill by using them. You can use anti-itching lotions like calamine as an HFMD treatment to soothe the rashes. Cold treats such as smoothies or yogurt can help to soothe a sore throat.
Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease Prevention
- Practicing Good Hygiene: Teach our children to practice good hygiene and keep themselves clean. Explain to them how it is contagious and what is best for them. Also, tell them not to put their hands, fingers or any other thing in their mouth.
- Wash your Hands Often: Make sure that you wash your hands more often especially after changing a diaper, wiping off saliva, nose drippings or using the toilet. Follow the same before preparing the food and having it. You can use hand wipes or sanitizer in case when soap, hand wash, and water is not available.
- Disinfection: Ensure that you clean all the highly used areas and surfaces of your home with soap and water. Use a diluted solution of water and chlorine bleach to clean the surfaces. You need to clean your baby’s pacifier often to take care of your child’s health and oral hygiene.The childcare centers should also maintain a strict schedule and proper hygiene while disinfecting the common areas including shared toys.
- Do not Share Personal Items and Food: The affected person should not share cups, bowls, or eat from the same plates. Do not take a bite of the same food.
- Isolating Contagious People: Because of the highly contagious nature of the disease, it is always advisable to limit your exposure once you see the active signs of the disease. Children affected with HFMD should be kept separately until the fever is gone and the blisters and sores have properly healed.
Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Children is usually self-healing. However, certain precautions can help in reducing the risk of infection.