Hand, foot and mouth disease

An Overview

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease  a mild, contagious viral infection common in young children — is characterized by sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet. Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most commonly caused by a virus. There’s no specific treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Frequent hand-washing and avoiding close contact with people who are infected with hand-foot-and-mouth disease may help reduce your child’s risk of infection.

Symptoms for hand, foot and Mouth disease

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease may cause all of the following signs and symptoms or just some of them. They include:

Skin rash

Your child may get a skin rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It may also show up on the knees, elbows, buttocks, or genital area. The rash usually looks like flat, red spots, sometimes with blisters. Fluid in the blister and the resulting scab that forms as the blister heals may contain the virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Keep blisters or scabs clean and avoid touching them.

Fever and flu-like symptoms

Children often get a fever and other flu-like symptoms three to six days after they catch the virus. Symptoms may include:
• Fever
• Eating or drinking less
• Sore throat
• Feeling unwell
Other symptoms may appear over the next few days

Skin rash

Your child may get a skin rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It may also show up on the knees, elbows, buttocks, or genital area. The rash usually looks like flat, red spots, sometimes with blisters. Fluid in the blister and the resulting scab that forms as the blister heals may contain the virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Keep blisters or scabs clean and avoid touching them.

• Fever
• Sore throat
• Feeling unwell
• Painful, red, blister-like lesions on the tongue, gums and inside of the cheeks
• A red rash, without itching but sometimes with blistering, on the palms, soles and sometimes the buttocks
• Irritability in infants and toddlers

Loss of appetite

• A fever and sore throat are usually the first symptoms of HFMD. The characteristic blisters and rashes show up later, usually 1 or 2 days after the fever begins.
• The rash usually looks like flat red spots. The spots can be harder to see on darker skin tones, so it’s easier to check the palms of hands and the bottom of feet where the condition may be more noticeable.
Viruses can be easily spread from person to person. You or your child may get HFMD through contact with a person’s:
• saliva
• fluid from blisters
• feces
• respiratory droplets that are sprayed into the air after coughing or sneezing
HFMD can also be transmitted through direct contact with unwashed hands or a surface containing traces of the virus.

Causes of Hand, foot mouth disease

The most common cause of hand-foot-and-mouth disease is infection with the coxsackievirus A16. The coxsackievirus belongs to a group of viruses called nonpolio enteroviruses. Other types of enteroviruses sometimes cause hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

Oral ingestion is the main source of coxsackievirus infection and hand-foot-and-mouth disease. The illness spreads by person-to-person contact with an infected person’s:
• Nasal secretions or throat discharge
• Saliva
• Fluid from blisters
• Stool
• Respiratory droplets sprayed into the air after a cough or sneeze

Common in child care setting

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most common in children in child care settings because of frequent diaper changes and toilet training, and because little children often put their hands in their mouths.
Although your child is most contagious with hand-foot-and-mouth disease during the first week of the illness, the virus can remain in his or her body for weeks after the signs and symptoms are gone. That means your child still can infect others.
Some people, especially adults, can pass the virus without showing any signs or symptoms of the disease.
Outbreaks of the disease are more common in summer and autumn in the United States and other temperate climates. In tropical climates, outbreaks occur year-round.

Different from foot-and-mouth disease

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease isn’t related to foot-and-mouth disease (sometimes called hoof-and-mouth disease), which is an infectious viral disease found in farm animals. You can’t contract hand-foot-and-mouth disease from pets or other animals, and you can’t transmit it to them.
Practicing good hygiene is the best defense against HFMD. Regular handwashing can greatly reduce your risk of getting this virus.

Prevention

You can teach your children how to wash their hands using hot water and soap. Washing your hands after using the restroom, before eating, and after being out in public is important.
Children should also not put their hands or other objects in or near their mouths.
It’s important to disinfect any common areas in your home on a regular basis. Try cleaning shared surfaces first with soap and water, then with a diluted solution of bleach and water.
You should also disinfect toys, pacifiers, and other objects that may be contaminated with the virus.
• Wash hands carefully. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the toilet or changing a diaper and before preparing food and eating. When soap and water aren’t available, use hand wipes or gels treated with germ-killing alcohol.
• Disinfect common areas. Get in the habit of cleaning high-traffic areas and surfaces first with soap and water, then with a diluted solution of chlorine bleach and water. Child care centers should follow a strict schedule of cleaning and disinfecting all common areas, including shared items such as toys, as the virus can live on these objects for days. Clean your baby’s pacifiers often.
• Teach good hygiene. Show your children how to practice good hygiene and how to keep themselves clean. Explain to them why it’s best not to put their fingers, hands or any other objects in their mouths.

Treatment

In most cases, the infection will go away without treatment in 7 to 10 days. However, your doctor may recommend certain treatments to help ease symptoms until the disease has run its course. These can include:
• prescription or over-the-counter topical ointments to soothe blisters and rashes
• pain medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve headaches
• medicated syrups or lozenges to ease painful sore throats
You shouldn’t give aspirin to children for viral infections. Aspirin can lead to Reye’s syndrome in children.

 

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