Hand Foot and Mouth disease is caused by the Enterovirus family of viruses and is a highly contagious disease. As the name suggests, it affects the hand, foot and mouth. But this disease is also characterized by sores or blisters in the mouth along with rashes on the hands and feet.
Although it can affect people of all ages, children are the most prone to get this disease. And young children under the age of 5 years are the most susceptible.
What are the symptoms of Hand Foot Mouth Disease?
An infected person begins to display all or some of the following symptoms within 3-7 days after getting infected:
- Sore throat
- Poor appetite
- Rashes on hand and feet
- Blisters in the mouth – with or without pain
The child may begin to feel feverish even before the rashes and blisters appear. The sores begin as small red spots in the back of the mouth and later they become ulcers. In rare cases, the rashes may also appear on the elbows, knees, buttocks and the genital area. Small children find it very difficult to swallow liquids and this leads to dehydration.
How is the Hand Foot Mouth Disease caused?
This disease is caused by coxsackievirus, which is a virus from the Enterovirus family of viruses. The coxsackievirus spreads very quickly from one person to another. It is very easy for children to catch the disease from an infected person. A child or an adult is most likely to contract the disease if he comes in contact with an infected person’s:
- Fluid from punctured blisters and
- Respiratory droplets that get dispersed in the air due to sneezing & coughing
- One can also contract the Hand foot mouth disease by coming into contact with a surface that has traces of the coxsackievirus or by coming in contact with the unwashed hands of an infected person.
Why children are more prone to getting this disease? What can you do to prevent it?
Children’s immune system is not so strong and so they are vulnerable. Their immunity becomes strong once they are exposed to the virus. Moreover, children come in contact with various people and other children at school, daycare, activity classes etc. and they don’t wash their hands as often as they should.
- Although it isn’t an easy task to make your child aware of hygiene but the earlier you do it; the better your child is protected from contracting infections and diseases.
- Educate your child about good hygiene practices and tell him/her about the consequences if they don’t practice it.
- Make your kids wash their hands before and after every meal and after each visit to the washroom.
- Another important lesson that you must give to your child to avoid putting their hands in their mouth, in the nose and ears since our hands contain various germs at any given point of time.
- Clean your child’s toys every now and then and disinfect all nipples, pacifiers and other toys that are prone to contamination by microorganisms.
- If your child has fever or a sore throat, make him/her take an off from school the next day. This will not only give your child some rest, it will prevent the infection from spreading to other kids and from other kids to your child.
See your doctor if you notice any symptoms so that the disease can be cured at the earliest. Once the medical practitioner confirms the diagnosis, keep your child clean and do not send him/her to school. This is because the coxsackievirus is most contagious during the first week of infecting a person.
Treatment of Hand Foot Mouth Disease
Most of the times, Hand foot mouth disease goes away on its own in a week to ten days but most doctors recommend topical ointments to soothe the rashes and blisters. Your doctor may also prescribe some pain relieving medicines to ease the pain and cough lozenges or syrups to cure sore throats.
You can also try certain home remedies to cure reduce the symptom of this disease:
A word of caution:
- Suck ice to soothe the blisters
- Avoid salty and spicy foods as these may cause irritation
- Eat ice cream and drink some cold beverages
Don’t overindulge in cold beverages or suck too much ice or your kiddo will also end up with a bad throat.
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