Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a mild and contagious viral infection usually common in young children. It is characterized by sores in the mouth and development of rashes in the hands and feet. This disease is caused by coxsackievirus.
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease affects children below 10 years. Children in day care centers are prone to this condition. The infection is spread by person-to-person contact with unwashed hands or touching surfaces contaminated with feces. It can also be transmitted by contact with the saliva, stool and respiratory secretions of an infected person.
Children can develop immunity to this condition as they grow older and starts to build antibodies after exposure to the virus. Adolescents and adults also get infected by this disease. The disease is mild and disappears on its own within several days.
Symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease
The onset of the symptoms or incubation period is usually 3-6 days.
- Sore throat and having fever
- Feeling of being unwell or malaise
- Infants and toddlers becomes irritable
- Painful, red and blister-like lesions that develops on the tongue, gums and inside the cheeks
- A red rash that is not itchy but sometimes with blistering that develops on the palms, soles and on the buttocks
- Loss of appetite
- Apply the prescribed over-the-counter topical ointments to relieve the blisters and rashes.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lessen the headaches and pain.
- Take medicated syrups to relieve a sore throat. Another alternative is to suck on lozenges.
- To relieve blisters on the mouth, suck ice pops or ice chips; eat ice cream or sherbet and drink cold beverages such as milk or iced water. Stop eating acidic foods and beverages such as citrus fruits, fruit driks and soda, salty foods, spicy to prevent making the condition worse.
- After eating, rinse the mouth using salt water solution several times every day to lessen the pain and inflammation in the mouth and sores in the throat caused by hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly especially after using a toiler or changing diaper of babies and before preparing food and eating. Another option if water is not available is to use hand wipes or gels that contains alcohol.
- Child care centers should regularly maintain cleanliness and disinfecting common areas and shared items such as toys. Virus can remain in these objects for days.
- Pacifiers should be cleaned regularly.
- Teach children good proper hygiene and keep their body clean.
- People suffering from hand-foot-and-mouth disease should isolate themselve from other people. Keep children out of child care center or school while they are still highly contagious.