What all parents need to know about Hand Foot Mouth Disease

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At the beginning, HFMD manifests as a common cold, accompanied by a sore throat, slight fever and aches all over the body.

What is Hand Foot, Mouth Disease?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, hand, foot, and mouth disease (commonly known as HFMD) is a viral illness that usually affects infants and children five-year-old and below. Sometimes, however, it affects adults as well.

“It usually starts with a fever, reduced appetite, sore throat, and a feeling of being unwell (malaise),” CDC says. “One or two days after the fever starts, painful sores can develop in the mouth (herpangina).”

With HFMD, there is also a chance of dehydration, especially for young children, because mouth sores are painful and swallowing may be difficult.

Not everyone will get all of these symptoms, CDC says. However, some people, particularly adults, may show no symptoms at all, but they can still pass the virus to others.

What to look for

At the beginning, HFMD manifests as a common cold, accompanied by a sore throat, slight fever and aches all over the body.

Soon, however, other signs will begin to show—particularly painful sores and rashes.

The sores often start appearing at the back of the mouth as small red spots that blister and can become ulcers.

A skin rash with red spots which can also blister may also develop over one or two days on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. These rashes may also appear on the knees, elbows, buttocks or genital area.

How it spreads

A viral disease, HFMD spreads through saliva, mucous, blisters and feces. That’s why coughing, sneezing, drooling and close contact can spread the virus.

If you suspect that a person is infected with the virus, it is recommended not to get to close to them as physical contact increases your chance of contracting HFMD.

What parents can do

When children start school, their risk of catching a virus from another child increases. That’s why it’s important that you make sure they properly wash their hands regularly.

If they appear to be coming down with a cold or a flu, it’s best that they stay at home where they can recover and not spread virus to other children

If you child shows symptoms of HFMD, immediately call your doctor and keep your child hydrated.

How to help your child recover

The good news is that HFMD usually does not need treatment and a doctor will be able to diagnose the condition immediately based on your child's symptoms. 

Help your little one recover with these tips: 

  • Lots of cold fluids/foods will help with the sore throat, especially if there are painful blisters there. 
  • Avoid acidic or spicy foods as these can aggravate mouth and throat sores. 
  • For pain and fever, only give Panadol. 
  • Wash your hands frequently - the virus can linger on in the child's stools for a few months and spread to others. 
  • Don't let your little one share toys with other kids or give hugs and kisses while they are infected. Keep them away from school until you get the green light from the doctor to send your child back. 

Republished with permission from: theAsianparent Philippines.