Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
School and daycare are back in session, and with it brings an increase in the incidence Hand, Foot and Mouth (HFM) Disease in our offices. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. However, it can sometimes occur in older children and adults.
- Sore throat
- Feeling of being unwell (malaise)
- Red, blister-like lesions on the tongue, gums and inside of the cheeks
- A red rash, sometimes with blistering, on the palms, soles and sometimes the buttocks
- Irritability in infants and toddlers
- Loss of appetite
- Young children may get dehydrated if they are not able to swallow enough liquids because of painful mouth sores
- Can be easily spread from person-to-person
- Close personal contact
- The air (through coughing or sneezing)
- Contact with feces
- Contact with contaminated objects and surfaces
- HFM is not transmitted to or from pets or other animals
Health care providers can usually identify mouth sores caused by hand, foot, and mouth disease by considering:
- How the rash and mouth sores look
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, samples from the throat or stool may be collected and sent to a laboratory to test for the virus.
There is no specific treatment. In most cases, the infection will go away without treatment in seven to ten days. However, you can do some things to relieve symptoms, such as:
- Pain medication: Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen to relieve pain and fever
- Mouthwashes or sprays that numb mouth pain
Certain at-home treatments can also provide relief from symptoms:
- Suck on ice or popsicles
- Eat ice cream or sherbet
- Drink cold beverages
- Avoid citrus fruits, fruit drinks, and soda
- Avoid spicy or salty foods
How Can Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Be Prevented?
Good hygiene is the best defense against hand, foot, and mouth disease. Hand washing is the best protection. It should be done often especially after using the toilet or changing a diaper and before preparing or eating food. Shared toys in childcare centers should be cleaned often with a disinfectant because many viruses can live on objects for a few days. Keep kids home from school and childcare while they have a fever or open blisters on the skin and in the mouth.