Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral illness that usually affects young children. It should not be confused with foot-and-mouth or hoof-and-mouth disease, which only occurs in animals. Because this disease is most frequently spread through oral ingestion, it is common in childcare settings. As any parent knows, young children frequently put their hands in their mouths, and this can be one of the fastest ways to get hand, foot, and mouth disease. Over time, exposure to the virus builds antibodies in the immune system, so it’s less common among teenagers and adults, although they can still spread the disease.
Your child may not show symptoms of HFMD until three to seven days after infection. The first sign of the illness is usually a fever, accompanied by sore throat. A day or two after the fever begins, you may see painful sores in the child’s mouth or throat, as well as a rash on the hands, feet, or buttocks.
The mouth and throat sores are often painful, and your child may have difficulty swallowing, which can lead to dehydration. Use an oral spray to numb the pain, as hydration is essential to recuperating from an illness. Milk may be gentler on the throat than more acidic options like juice. There is no treatment for hand, foot, and mouth disease, but symptoms generally clear up on their own after seven to ten days. Rest and hydration will speed the healing process, and you may administer Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain or fever, if necessary.
You can avoid HFMD as well as several other viruses by developing good hygiene habits. This includes thoroughly washing your hands after using the bathroom, before preparing meals, and after touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Encourage little ones to wash their hands frequently throughout the day, and to cover their mouths with their elbows when they cough or sneeze.
If you or a family member has a fever lasting more than a couple of days, or develops a rash on the hands, feet, or buttocks, you can come to your local FastMed that same day to get it checked out. There’s no appointment necessary, and you’ll get the same great care you’d receive at any doctor’s office.