Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease or HMFD is a viral infection commonly seen in children under the age of 5. HFMD is highly contagious, and the source of transmission can be infected hands, saliva, mucus, faeces, or fluids from blisters. Children in preschool or day-cares are at a greater risk as they come in close contact with each other.
What are the symptoms of HFMD?
The HFM occurs due to the coxsackie virus. Reduced appetite and feeling lethargic are frequently seen in the early stages of infection. Kids often develop fever, followed by rashes.
Blisters are present on palms of hands, feet and inside the mouth. The blisters are red, flat and contain a fluid bubble on top. After it breaks, it leaves ulcers behind.
Due to painful mouth sores kids find difficulty in swallowing. Because of decreased consumption of liquids, children get dehydrated.
Other symptoms may include muscle ache, cough, cold, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomachache, rashes on thigh and buttocks etc. Kids become irritable or feel more sleepy than usual.
How do you take care of a child with a hand foot and mouth?
If young children develop painful blisters behind the mouth, they feel difficulty in swallowing and drinking, however, they are unable to communicate with their parents. To keep children hydrated, offer small sips at a time, and give analgesics as per the doctor’s recommendation to reduce pain.
Areas with blisters should be uncovered and cleaned. A child can take bath with lukewarm water and mild soap. After bathing pat dry the skin and apply anti-itching cream such as calamine. It will prevent children from scratching or popping the blisters.
If the blister ruptures, dab it with small amount of antibiotic ointment and cover it with bandage.
Blisters are highly contagious, so the care providers as well as other family members should wash their hands frequently with soap. Do not share toys or bedding. Disinfect the toys and surfaces at regular intervals.
Avoid acidic food, citrus fruits etc, children can take a semisolid diet which can be easily swallowed. It is vital to maintain hydration in child, therefore offer milk, water frequently. Children without any flu-like symptoms can eat ice creams or drink cold water to lessen blister soreness.
How long should a child with hand foot and mouth stay home?
HMFD is a self- limiting disease, and most patients recover within a week. Children develop immunity against the virus and infection goes away without treatment in 7 to 10 days. Though the fever breaks in 2 to 3 days children must abstained from schools until the blisters dry up.
Can parents get sick from hand foot and mouth?
The virus can be transmitted from direct contact with blisters, nasal secretion, saliva etc. Parents or siblings in close contact with children might get the infection. Hand washing can significantly reduce the risk of infection.
There is no treatment for Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. Parents do not get panic and take all necessary precaution for faster recovery of their child.