What is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease?
Hand, foot, and mouth disease, or HFMD, is a contagious illness caused by different viruses. It is common in infants and children younger than 5 years old. However, older children and adults can also get HFMD.
It causes painful red blisters in the mouth and throat, and on the hands, feet, and diaper area.
How contagious is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease?
Very contagious! These viruses spread quite easily.
The virus can be found in the saliva, sputum, nasal mucus, blister fluid, and stool of an infected person.
HFMD spreads from an infected person to others from:
- Close contact, such as kissing, hugging, or sharing cups and eating utensils
- Coughing and sneezing (Droplets in the air)
- Contact with feces.
- Contact with blister fluid
- Touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them, such as doorknobs and toys.
Symptoms of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
- Fever. A high temperature is usually the first sign of the virus, which may or may not be accompanied by a rash.
- Rash. Red spots may appear on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and around the mouth, as well as on the knees, elbows, torso, buttocks and genital areas.
- Discomfort. Your child may seem a lot more irritable or uncomfortable than usual, even if he doesn’t have a rash or a temperature.
- Lack of appetite.
- Sore throat. Could be due to blisters in the throat
- Muscle aches, or other flu-like symptoms
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Treatment
There's no cure for HFM and no vaccine to prevent it. You can only treat symptoms of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
- Over-the-counter pain relief. Such as ibuprofen or Panadol. Pain relievers also help bring down a fever.
- Plenty of liquids. Make sure your child is hydrating (signs of dehydration: like a dry or sticky mouth, sunken eyes, or decreased urine output.)
- Cold or soft foods. Foods that are cooling and easy to eat will help soothe a sore throat and painful mouth.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Prevention
- Hand washing and keeping a good hygiene is the best protection. Embrace proper hygiene habits.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups and eating utensils with people who have HFMD.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
- Keep your child home from school if you doubt he has the disease until diagnosed by the specialized doctor.
- While it can be tempting to send your child back to school as soon as he seems better, experts say it’s crucial to make sure he is past the contagion period to avoid passing the illness onto others.