All about Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease, or HFMD, is caused by a virus. Anyone can get the disease, but children under age 10 are most vulnerable. A child can catch hand-foot-and-mouth through contact with someone who has it, or from something that’s been in contact with the virus, like a toy.

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Symptoms of HFMD

Some symptoms can include;

  • Ulcers, or sores, inside or around the mouth
  • Rash or blisters on the hands, feet, legs, or buttocks.

Causes of HFMD

The viruses that commonly cause hand-foot-and-mouth are named coxsackievirus a16 and enterovirus 71. It spread easily in the summer and fall.

Symptoms of HFMD

Early symptoms may include

  • fever
  • painful blisters similar to cold sores
  • sore throat inside the child’s mouth or on his tongue.

The child may develop a rash on the palms of his hands or the soles of his feet a day or two after the first symptoms appear. This rash may transform into blisters. Flat spots or sores may appear on the elbows, knees, or buttocks. He could have all of these symptoms, or only one or two. Mouth sores can make it difficult to swallow. Ensure your child gets enough water and calories.

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How Is It Diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and examine any sores or rashes. This is enough to decide if it’s hand-foot-and-mouth disease with no extra tests. However, he might take a throat swab, a stool or blood sample for proper diagnosis.

How Is It Treated?

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease should go away on its own after 7 to10 days. There is no treatment for the illness and no vaccine. A doctor may recommend:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen(Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) or numbing mouth sprays. Don’t use aspirinfor pain — it can cause serious illness in children.
  • Cold treats like Popsicles, yogurt, or smoothies soothe a sore throat.
  • Anti-itch lotion, like calamine, can help against rashes.

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Your child is most contagious in the first 7 days. However, the virus can remain in her body for days or weeks after symptoms stop. It could spread through her spit or poop during this period. This can be prevented by washing hands meticulously. That applies to you, too, after you change a diaper or wipe a runny nose.

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