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Hand mouth and foot disease

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As the name suggests hand mouth and foot disease is a contagious viral infection that causes sores in hands, the mouth and the feet. It can affect children as well as young adults also. The infection mostly occurs during summer, spring and fall season.

Symptoms of Hand mouth and foot disease

HMFD mostly affects preschoolers and children below 10 years of age. Chances of infection decline as the body’s immune system become strong.

  • Sores and rashes on hands, palm, feet and even buttocks and thighs
  • Blister inside mouth- i.e. in oral cavity, inner cheek, gums and tongue
  • Mild to high fever
  • Feeling of malaise, irritation
  • reduced appetite
  • sore throat
  • flu like symptoms
  • kids drool

The blisters inside the mouth often form red coloured ulcers which are quite painful. The symptoms last for a week and then disappear with treatment.

Causes of HMFD

HMFD is typically caused by the virus strain coxsackievirus A16, group of non polio enteroviruses. Being a contagious disease, it spreads from one person to another through oral cavity or nasal passages. Saliva, nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing and even coming in contact with the pus of blisters can spread the infection.

Complications of HFMD

Usually there are no complications associated with HFMD. However, if you observe that the rashes do not disappear despite the home remedies and precaution, then schedule another appointment with your doctor at the earliest.

Also make sure to check with your doctor immediately if your child is constantly irritated, experiencing shortness of breath, tremendous throat pain and refusing to eat.

Diagnosis of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

The diagnosis is usually based on observing the symptoms. The doctor will check the rashes and the sores and will ask general questions like the time since when they have appeared or if your child has been subjected to some kind of allergy. However, you doctor can easily confirm a HMFD by its characteristic symptoms.

Your child will not need to undergo blood tests or swab tests, unless any severe complication is present.

Treatment of HFMD

It’s very common in children and usually no major treatment is involved. Topical anaesthetics may be used for reducing the pain caused by oral ulcers and OTC paracetamol for fever.

Medicated mouthwashes are also be given by the doctor for alleviating difficulty in swallowing food.

Your doctor will suggest many home remedies which are effective in eliminating the symptoms with 7-10 days.

Home Remedies for HFMD

  • Allow your child to enjoy cold food and drinks like ice creams, ice pops, cool sherbets during this period
  • Make sure he/she is drinking plenty of fluids to keep the body hydrated. Loss of appetite is normal, so prepare foods that your kid loves to eat sans spices, beverages, sour or citrus foods and too much oil.
  • Gurgle with lukewarm saline water to get rid of sore throat. Also make sure he/she rinses the mouth properly with warm water after eating food

Preventing HFMD

  • Make sure your kids maintain proper hygiene. Wash their hands with antiseptic liquid after they return from school or playing and definitely before eating
  • Ensure that every member of the family washes hands before performing daily tasks pertaining to self care, sanitation and eating
  • Give them handkerchief or tissues to cover their mouth while sneezing and coughing. This will prevent spread of virus
  • Encourage your kids to not be in close contact with other children and people suffering from virus infections, fever as well as HFMD.

It’s the responsibility of parents to teach their kids to practice hygienic habits so that they become less likely to the infection. However, do not panic for HFMD is very normal in children and it gets eradicated completely within a week.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 17, 2015