Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD)

Baby Hand Mouth
What is Hand Foot Mouth Disease?

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease also known as HFMD is a highly contagious Disease. It is caused by Coxsakie Virus of genus Entero Virus.

Mode of Transmission:

  1. HFMD generally spread through direct contact of the infected person. It can also spread through saliva, mucus or through airborne respiratory droplets during coughing and sneezing of infected one.
  2. It spread through saliva while kissing or sharing food and drinks.
  3. Through skin to skin contact
The most commonly affected population of HFMD are children. It causes soar in mouth and rash or blisters on hand and feet. It generally goes away within 7-10 days. 
Sign and Symptoms of HFMD

HFMD symptoms may include the following:

  1. Fever
  2. Sore throat, sore in and around mouth
  3. Painful, red ulcers or sores in tongue
  4. Blisters and rashes on hands, legs, foot and soles. Red rashes without itching can seen over the palm of the hand and sole of the feet. Rashes may turn into blisters.
  5. Malaise (feeling of unwell)
  6.  Irritability
  7. Loss of appetite
All of the above or some of the above can be present in Hand Foot and Mouth Disease.
Incubation Period (Initial infection to onset of sign and symptoms): Incubation period of HFMD is three to six days. Fever being the first sign of HFMD, which is then followed by soar throat, loss of appetite and malaise. Rashes on hand and foot is followed by it within one or two days.
Diagnosis of HFMD

The doctor can diagnose HFMD by simple observation and physical examination of hand, foot and mouth (both inside & outside of the mouth). Doctors observe the rashes and blister around the affected area. Certain questions regarding difficulty faced by patient may be asked by doctor to rule out the diagnosis. Fever, loss of appetite, rashes or blisters around the hand, feet and sores in and around the mouth are the obvious sign and symptoms of HFMD.

Who are at the risk of HFMD

Children under the age of 10 are at high risk of HFMD. Risk increases when they attend school or daycare settings, where anyone is infected. The virus spreads quickly in these places. Since the virus spreads through skin to skin contact, through respiratory droplets of infected child and through coughing and sneezing. So, it is unavoidable if a infected child is around. Since smaller kids play together, share their toys and touch each other often. So, its better to keep your child at home when he/she is suffering from HFMD. children develop immunity when they are exposed to the virus causing it.

Treatment of HFMD

Since hand foot mouth disease is self treatable. The infection goes away without treatment in 7-10 days. Mostly children are affected from HFMD, to ease out the symptoms, taking your children to the doctor is essential. Certain treatment helps to ease symptoms until the disease runs its course. It includes

  1. Over the counter topical ointment to soothe the blisters and rashes.
  2. Pain medications
  3. Medicated syrup for painful sore throat

Note: You must keep the child hydrated since children with sore throat often refuse to drink. Giving liquid in every short interval is important. Check out the amount and frequency of urination. If the child is not taking liquid and suffers from dehydration, its a medical emergency.

Home remedies for HFMD

Certain home remedies for relief from blisters in HFMD are

  1. Eat ice-cream if there is no fever
  2. Avoid citrus fruit, fruit drink etc.
  3. Avoid spicy, salty food
  4.  Use any aloe vera mixed calamine lotion for topical application over the blister. Sponge the area with cold water and apply the ointment over it for soothing effect. Repeat it 5-6 times a day. For better effect put the ointment in fridge for hours and then apply.
  5. Keep the child hydrated. Give plenty of water and fluids. 
Prevention of HFMD
  1. Good hygiene and sanitation is the utmost defense against HFMD. Regular hand washing reduces the risk of contacting virus. Wash hand using soap water especially after toilet, after changing diaper and before eating. Use hand wipes or sanitation when you are out.
  2. Sanitation and disinfecting the area: Keep the house clean specially the high traffic or play area of children at home. Clean it with soap & water, then with diluted chlorine bleach and water. Disinfect all the toys, bottles, slippers, pacifiers etc. on regular basis. Child care center should follow strict schedule of disinfecting and cleaning of common area as well.
  3. Stay away from infection: Hand foot mouth disease is highly contagious. Child with HFMD should limit their exposure to others. Better to stay at home until the symptoms persist. Don’t send your kids to school or child care during illness. Let her/him take rest at home and keep an eye on your child and take proper care.
  4. Teaching hygiene to kids: Develop the habit of washing hands in your kid before eating, after toileting and after playing. Teach them not to put finger, objects or toys in the mouth.
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How long is HFMD contagious

The person with HFMD is contagious till the time sign and symptoms persist. They can sometime remain contagious, though to a lesser extent after the symptoms goes away. The child should not go to school until the symptoms are completely resolved. The virus of HFMD may shed for 1-3 weeks through nose, mouth and lungs of the affected person and in the stool it shed form weeks to months.

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