While Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) sounds terribly alarming, it is quite common — especially in the warmer months. People of any age can have HFMD, but typically it affects infants and children younger than five years of age. Symptoms include a skin rash, fever and mouth sores. It is not related to the foot in mouth disorders which commonly occur at family gatherings and other public events.
HFMD is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus genus (group), including polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and enteroviruses.
An infected person may spread the viruses that cause hand, foot and mouth disease to another person through close personal contact, coughing or sneezing, or contact with feces or contaminated objects and surface areas (like door knobs).
If your child has HFMD, they are most contagious during the first week of illness. Some people, especially adults, may not develop any symptoms, but can still spread the virus. There is no vaccine to protect against HFMD. This is another reason why handwashing is so important.
If HFMD has invaded your household, avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, sharing utensils or cups with people with HFMD. Disinfect dirty surfaces, solid item and toys. Some parents keep a few toys out for play and lock the rest away until the disease has cleared. Disinfecting the toys can be a tedious project, but a crucial step in ridding HFMD from your home.
Treatments for the disease include pain relievers and warm baths for the rash. Avoid salty and acidic foods like crackers or orange juice. Freezer pops and popsicles would certainly offer some relief. Be certain to monitor water intake as the mouth sores may prevent some from wanting to swallow. Hydration is very important.
Anyone infected by hand, foot and mouth disease should stay home when sick. Call our office if you are unsure when to return work, school or when to return your child to daycare.
NorthShore Primary Care has offices in Amherst and Avon. Dr. Carandang is dual certified in pediatrics and internal medicine. She sees patients of all ages in the Avon office at 37111 American Way. Call 440-653-8091 to make an appointment today.