Here’s yet another need to teach kids to clean their hands well and often: it can help avoid the spread of hand, foot, and mouth (HFM) disease. Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common contagious health problem caused by viruses from the enterovirus household, most commonly the coxsackievirus.
These viruses reside in the body’s digestive tract and spread from individual to individual, typically on unwashed hands and surfaces polluted by feces (poop). Kids 1 to 4 years of ages are most at risk for the disease, as infections prevail in childcare centers, preschools, and other locations where kids remain in close quarters. The health problem usually lasts 3-5 days.
Break outs are most typical during the warm summer and early fall months, however can happen year-round in tropical parts of the world.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is not the like hoof and mouth disease, which is an unrelated disease that impacts barnyard animals and livestock.
Symptoms and signs
HFM causes painful blisters in the throat, and on the tongue, gums, difficult palate, or inside the cheeks. Blisters are red with a little bubble of fluid on top. They often peel, leaving an ulcer, which is a sore with a reddish base. The soles of the feet and the palms of the hands may have a rash that can look like flat red spots or red blisters.
Occasionally, a pink rash might be seen on other parts of the body, such as the butts and thighs. Nevertheless, some kids will have no problems other than sores in the back of the throat.
It can be difficult for parents to tell if a child (particularly an extremely kid) has HFM disease if sores are just inside the mouth or throat. Extremely young kids might not be able to interact that they have a sore throat, however if a child stops eating or drinking, or wants to eat or consume less frequently, it’s a sign that something is wrong.
A child with HFM likewise may:
- have a fever, muscle aches, or other flu-like symptoms
- end up being irritable or sleep more than normal
- start drooling (due to painful swallowing).
- only want to drink cold fluids.
If your child is very cranky or declining food or drink, it’s time to see the doctor. While there is no medical treatment for HFM disease (the illness needs to run its course), the doctor can suggest home care to make your child more comfy during recovery.
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given to help a child who is throbbing or cranky, or to alleviate painful mouth sores or pain from fever. But do not offer aspirin to children or teenagers, as it might cause a rare but severe illness called Reye syndrome.
A child who has difficulty swallowing may be prescribed “magic mouthwash”– a mixture made by pharmacists that can be dabbed onto sores to alleviate pain. Cold foods like ice cream and popsicles likewise help by numbing the area, and will be a welcome reward for kids who have difficulty swallowing (and even those who don’t!).
Kids with blisters on their hands or feet need to keep the areas clean and uncovered. Wash the skin with lukewarm soap and water, and pat dry. If a blister pops, dab on a little antibiotic lotion to help prevent infection and cover it with a small bandage.
Ensure your child drinks a lot of fluids to stay hydrated. Call your doctor if your child continues to be very cranky, cannot be comforted, is sluggish, or seems to be getting worse. Your child also may have to see the doctor if she or he looks dehydrated, with signs like a dry tongue, sunken eyes, or reduced urine output.
HFM disease generally clears up within a number of days to a week and kids recover completely. Really hardly ever, it can lead to problems such as viral meningitis (infection of the fluid around the brain and spine) or encephalitis (infection and inflammation of the brain).
Preventing the Spread
There is no vaccine to avoid HFM disease or other similar infections. HFM is contagious and can spread through contact with feces, saliva, mucus from the nose, or fluid from the blisters. Keep kids home from school and childcare while they have a fever or open blisters on the skin and in the mouth.
Even after kids recuperate, they can pass the virus in their stool for a number of weeks, so the infection still can spread to others.
Hand washing is the best protection. Advise everybody in your family to clean their hands often, specifically after making use of the toilet or altering a diaper, and prior to preparing or eating food. Shared toys in child care centers need to be cleaned typically with a disinfectant because numerous viruses can live on items for a few days.