Hand-foot-and-mouth disease

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is characterized by sores in or on the mouth as well as the feet, hands and even legs and buttocks. Remember that the sores can be painful but it does not last more than a week or so.

The condition is common among children but can also occur among adults. It can develop at any time of the year but common during summer and fall.

What are the causes?

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is triggered by the enterovirus. The virus rapidly spreads via sneezing and coughing. It can also spread via infected stool such as changing diapers or when a child touches a contaminated object and touches his/her mouth.

It can take 3-6 days for an individual to develop the indications after exposure to the virus.

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease
Sores or blisters develop in or on the mouth and on the hands, feet and buttocks after a day or two.

Indications of hand-foot-and-mouth disease

In most cases of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, the following are present:

  • Initially, the child might feel tired
  • Sore throat
  • Fever around 38.5-39.5 degrees C
  • Sores or blisters develop in or on the mouth and on the hands, feet and buttocks after a day or two.

In some cases, the skin rash might develop before the blisters. Take note that the blisters might break open and crust over. The blisters and sores typically settle in a week or so.

Management

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease does not usually require treatment. Home measures can help alleviate the symptoms.

  • Provide the child with cool fluids to alleviate the sore throat. Ice cream and flavored ice pops can also help.
  • Do not provide the child with spicy or acidic foods and beverages since these can further irritate the mouth sores.
  • For fever and pain, provide the child acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Remember that both are different products with distinct dosage recommendations. A doctor must be consulted on how to properly use these medications.

Preventive measures

It is important to note that children are likely to spread the disease during the initial week of the illness. Nevertheless, the virus can remain in the stool for several months and can spread to others.

  • If the child attends daycare or school, inform the staff on when the child can return.
  • Wash hands regularly after touching a blister or changing a diaper of an infected child.
  • Family members must be instructed to wash hands often.
  • Do not allow the child to share toys with others while he/she is infected.

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