Best 101 Guide on Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

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A Complete guide on Hand foot and mouth disease.

The annoying, painful rashes are always not just rashes. They can be hand foot, and mouth diseases. Please go through the article find out more about it.

Hand foot mouth and disease in kids: What to know?

Summer season is always exciting for young children with all the indoor-outdoor games, carefree times, laughter, and fun. But it is also known for several infections and rashes in kids.

Even though you took all hygiene measures, your kid might end up getting a skin rash as they spend much time outdoors playing and are highly exposed to dust and heat.

It is widespread to get such rashes in kids during summertime. But, if you notice that your kid is having rashes everywhere in their hands and legs along with flu-like symptoms, it could be more than just a heat rash.

Your kid might be infected by hand foot and mouth disease (HFMD). Even though it is not a severe illness and would not create any severe complications, it can wreak havoc on your child’s health.

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease
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An overview of hand foot and mouth disease

The hand foot and mouth disease is a viral ailment that mainly affects children under ten years. Adults can also get this disease but, it is not very common. The hand foot and mouth disease can spread very quickly from one person to other because of the virus, which causes it is highly contagious.

As the name suggests, hand-foot and mouth disease is characterized by rashes and blisters on your hands, feet, around your mouth. The rashes can also occur in the genital area and inside your mouth.

When you have hand foot and mouth disease, the rashes will be flat and red along with colorless blisters filled with fluid, and they are painful and itchy, which makes them super irritating.

The hand foot and mouth disease kicks in with normal fever, a sore throat after one or two days, and in a few days, the rashes and blisters will begin to appear.

The hand foot and mouth disease is a viral infection mainly caused by viruses from the enterovirus family, primarily the coxsackievirus-A16 and the enterovirus71. These two are the most common causes, while other viruses from the same group can also be responsible.

Even though it is most commonly seen in younger children, adults can also get infected with hand, foot, and mouth disease. However, in the case of adults, most of the time, you won’t get a fever or any other symptoms. Also, HFMD in adults causes very itchy skin rashes, while it won’t be itchy but painful in kids.

The hand foot mouth disease is often mistaken with foot and mouth disease or hoof and mouth disease caused by a different virus and is affected in cattle and other cloven-hoofed livestock.

Symptoms of hand foot and mouth disease

Symptoms of hand foot and mouth disease can occur within 3-7 days after you are infected with the virus.

Watch out for these symptoms to recognize them from a characteristic rash. It is important not to mistake a typical heat rash with a hand foot and mouth disease.

1. Fever and other flu-like symptoms:

When infected with hand foot and mouth disease, the first symptom you experience is fever and other flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches, nausea, cough, sneeze, runny nose, body pain, and chills.

Sore throat after the fever begins. You might experience a sore throat. It is another primary symptom of hand foot and mouth disease. It creates irritation and pain in the throat.

2. Sores inside the mouth:

The mouth sores start to appear after a few days of fever and a sore throat has begun. Small sores will be formed in the back of your mouth, inner cheeks, on your tongue.

Most of the time, the mouth sores become severe and cause herpangina. These ulcers will heal within seven days.

3. Rashes:

The fever and sore throat will be followed by rashes and blister within a week after the infection. In a few days, your hands, legs, and outside the mouth area will be covered with painful rashes and blisters.

The rashes will be flat and red and blisters will be colorless and fluid.

4. Pain while swallowing:

The mouth ulcers and sore throat cause pain while swallowing foods and fluids.

Other significant symptoms include:

  • Feeling tired and unwell
  • Dehydration
  • Poor appetite
  • Weakened immune system
  • Irritability in infants

Severe symptoms that do not get better in a few days.

How does it spread?

The coxsackievirus, which causes the hand foot mouth disease is highly contagious and can spread quickly from one person to another through the following:

  • Fluid in blisters: the blisters will be filled with fluid, and this fluid might contain the virus; touching and scratching on the blisters cause these blisters to pop and fluid to come out. These fluids might have the virus which spreads the disease.
  • Discharges from the nose, saliva, or mucous.
  • Air contaminated by respiratory droplets from the infected person’s cough and sneeze.
  • Feaces
  • Close contact with the infected person.
  • Contaminated surfaces and where an infected person has touched or used things.

Diagnosis

Your doctor mainly diagnoses the hand foot and mouth disease by considering the symptoms, patient age, and examining the nature of blisters rashes.

Also, your doctor might need to collect samples from throat, feces, and blisters to confirm the case of a hand foot and mouth disease. However, collecting samples is done only rarely.

Complications of hand foot and mouth disease

Even though it is widespread, hand foot and mouth disease is not a severe illness. The only major complication caused by HFMD is dehydration. It rarely leads to any other serious complications.

Hand foot and mouth disease can lead to certain severe conditions such as:

  1. Loss of nails on fingers and toes

2. Encephalitis: encephalitis is the acute inflammation in the brain caused by a viral infection or an autoimmune disorder. Encephalitis is a severe life-threatening condition that causes the brain to swell and headaches and seizures. Encephalitis requires immediate medical attention.

3. Viral meningitis is the most common kind of meningitis, and most of the time,  it gets better without any treatment. But, in some cases, it can be hazardous and life-threatening. Viral meningitis is also called aseptic meningitis, and it is the viral infection of membranes and the erebrobrospinal fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord.

4. Dehydration: as mentioned earlier, dehydration is the most significant complication of normal hand foot and mouth disease. The mouth sores and sore throat result in difficulty swallowing food and water. So most children tend to avoid drinking enough water when suffering from hand foot, and mouth disease, which leads to dehydration.

Both encephalitis and viral meningitis are severe conditions that need a doctor. However,  hand foot and mouth disease rarely leads to these complications.

How to treat hand-foot and mouth disease

There is no specific treatment for hand foot, and mouth disease, and it is not needed because the illness gets cured on its own in 10-15 days without any treatment. Your doctor might suggest certain medications to reduce the symptoms. For instance,

  • ointments and creams to soothe rash and blisters.
  • Syrup and lozenges to cure sore throat.

Apart from this, several home remedies offer better relief.

Here are some of the effective methods you can use to ease the symptoms:

Gargling with warm salt water helps to heal the painful mouth sores faster.

Get your children cold foods such as ice cream, ice pops, smoothies, yogurt, and it helps soothe a sore throat.

Use lotions and powders on painful red blisters and rash.

Ensure that your kid is taking enough fluids and is staying hydrated.

How to prevent it?

As there is no vaccine or antibiotics to cure the hand foot and mouth and disease, it is better to prevent it. Follow these tips to avoid the infection.

Disinfecting surfaces: the coxsackievirus is very contagious and can survive inanimate surfaces. Thus, disinfecting common areas and surfaces with bleaching powder or disinfectant spray is an effective way to get rid of the virus infection. Also, disinfect your kid’s clothes, toys.

Hand washing: washing hands with soap and water is the most effective way to prevent hand foot and mouth disease. Ensure to wash hands before eating, cooking, after using the toilet.

Teach your kids hygiene habits: explain how important it is to practice good hygiene. Ask them to follow hygienic habits such as washing their hands, taking sound baths every day, cover their noses and mouth with tissue or handkerchief while sneezing and coughing. Avoid putting hands in their mouth and biting toys and other things. Avoid eating with unwashed hands.

Avoid sharing personal hygiene things such as bath towels, handkerchiefs.

Avoid direct contact with an infected person or people who have hand foot and mouth disease symptoms.

Last Words

Hand foot mouth and disease are common among children, and it is not fatal, so you don’t need to be flustered about it.

Since it affects kids mainly, parents should pay enough attention to their child’s health and hygiene. That is the only way to get away with hand and mouth disease.

It is generally a mild condition that goes away with proper care and medication within a few days.

Always be on the lookout for symptoms.

 

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While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. 

Do note that any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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