Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral illness most often seen in children under the age of 5 in school and daycare settings. Although it is most common among young children, older ones and adults can still be impacted as well. The following tips from FastMed will help parents identify and prevent hand, foot, and mouth disease in kids.
How Common Is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in Kids?
Although large outbreaks of hand, foot, and mouth disease are uncommon in the United States, individual cases can and do occur. In the U.S., cases are most common from spring to fall and occur most often in daycares, schools, and other close-contact settings. The virus normally runs its course in a week to 10 days. Although rare, complications, such as meningitis and encephalitis, can occur.
How Do I Recognize Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in Kids?
During the initial stages of hand, foot, and mouth disease, a child may complain about feeling unwell and having a sore throat, which can lead to a reduced appetite. In young babies, a sudden increase in drooling is the most common sign of a sore throat. It is also common to run a fever. Within a couple of days, red spots will normally develop at the back of the mouth that can blister and become quite painful. A skin rash characterized by flat, red spots or blisters can also develop on the palms, soles of the feet, buttocks, knees, elbows, and genital area.
The biggest danger of hand, foot, and mouth disease, especially in small children, is the possibility of dehydration since the sore throat may make a child reluctant to drink because swallowing is too painful. You should seek immediate medical attention if your child shows signs of dehydration, including:
- Increased sluggishness or irritability
- A dry sticky mouth
- Sunken eyes
- Decreased urine output
What Are Common Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Causes?
The most common hand, foot, and mouth disease causes are viruses belonging to the enterovirus group that includes coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and polioviruses. These viruses can be found in throat and nasal secretions, fluids from blisters, and feces. The virus is easily spread through close physical contact, respiratory droplets spread through the air after sneezing or coughing, inadequate hand hygiene, and contact with contaminated objects, such as toys.
Is There a Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Cure?
There currently is no hand, foot, and mouth disease cure or vaccine for hand, foot, and mouth disease prevention. Treatment is aimed at minimizing the discomfort. You can give your child over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain and fever symptoms. You should avoid giving aspirin to children or teens with fevers since it may cause a serious condition called Reye syndrome. Parents should encourage children to take frequent sips of cold liquids to reduce the risk of dehydration. Ice cream, smoothies, and popsicles can also help soothe the throat and help provide additional fluids to help keep your child hydrated. It is best to avoid warm drinks and foods, carbonated beverages, and acidic foods and beverages since they can irritate the throat.
What Are My Options for Hand, Foot, and Mouth in Adults Treatment?
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is less common in adults than children since most of us have developed immunity to the viruses by the time we reach our teen and adult years. Adults with the disease often do not show any symptoms; however, they can still pass the virus on to others. Hand, foot, and mouth in adults treatment typically revolves around alleviating minor symptoms that may develop, such as using throat sprays to minimize throat pain and taking steps to prevent transmitting the disease to others.
What Are the Best Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Prevention Tips?
The most effective method of hand, foot, and mouth disease prevention is practicing good hand hygiene and encouraging your children to do the same. You should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after going to the restroom, changing a diaper or helping a child go to the restroom, and before eating or preparing food. Commonly used objects, surfaces, and toys should be disinfected on a regular basis. You should also avoid close contact with anyone infected with hand foot and mouth disease and stay home until your health provider advises that it is safe to return to work, school, or daycare.
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