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What Is Hand, Foot, And Mouth Disease? Here's All You Need To Know

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is also called HFMD. It is a common viral illness found usually in younger children of less than 5 years of age. But adults can contract it, too. School children are at a high risk of contracting it. By and large, it occurs mainly during the spring, summer, and fall months. The virus causes sores or blisters in the mouth and rashes on the hands and feet followed by fever. The infection usually clears up on its own. It can be easily treated at home.

It seems to be a contagious disease and can spread easily in no time. Be it a casual handshake or maybe hugs or else any format where there is a skin-to-skin contact, the virus is likely to transpire. The viral infection especially gets picked up easily in day care centres and nursery schools or kindergartens.

Here Are A Few Signs And Symptoms Which Shouldn't Be Overlooked:

The first and foremost sign of hand, foot and mouth disease is a fever trailed by a sore throat and sometimes a poor appetite and malaise. Painful sores develop at the front of the mouth or throat while the fever is on. Within a day or two a red rash appears without itching, but on occasions with blistering on the hands and feet and possibly on the buttocks can follow. The time frame between initial infection to the onset of signs and symptoms (incubation period) is three to six days.

Here Are Some Causes Of Hand, Foot, And Mouth Disease:

Coxsackievirus A16, which is a part of a group of viruses called nonpolio enteroviruses, is the root cause of hand, foot and mouth disease. The key source of coxsackievirus infection and HFMD is oral ingestion. The sickness spreads by person-to-person contact with an infected person's saliva, nasal mucus, sputum, fluid from blisters, stools and respiratory droplets sprayed into the air after a cough or sneeze. Direct contact with unwashed hands or on the surface containing traces of the virus could result in having the disease transmitted easily.

How Can It Be Diagnosed?

Symptoms of HFMD do require a medical diagnosis. Early detection of the disease is recommended in thwarting an epidemic in the paediatric inhabitants. It is your doctor who will differentiate HFMD from other types of viral infections by evaluating the age of the affected person, the pattern of signs and symptoms, and the appearance of the rash or sores. For further clarification to determine which virus has caused the illness, your doctor may take a throat swab or stool specimen and send it to the laboratory.

What Kind Of Treatment Is Required?

In most cases, there is no specific treatment as such. The infection usually clears up without treatment in a span of 7 to 10 days. In order to soothe blisters and rashes, your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter topical ointments, pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen could be suggested to relieve headaches, medicated syrups or lozenges would be recommended to ease painful sore throats.

One can also try a few home remedies like rinsing the mouth with warm water after meals, eating ice-creams, sucking ice pops or ice chips at intervals, often drinking cold beverages such as milk or ice water, avoiding spicy or salty foods and also not to intake citrus fruits, fruit drinks, and soda to help make blisters less bothersome. Presently no antiviral medication or vaccine is available to cure the disease. Though, development efforts are underway.

Are There Any Complications?

Complications from the viral infections that cause hand, foot and mouth disease are rare, but require immediate medical treatment if present. Dehydration is commonly considered to be the complication of HFMD. Swallowing is a painful task and it becomes difficult due to the sores in the mouth and throat. Keep monitoring time and again to ensure that your child frequently sips fluid during the course of the illness. If dehydration is severe, intravenous (IV) fluids may be necessary. A rare and sometimes serious form of the coxsackievirus can involve the brain and cause other complications: like viral meningitis and encephalitis.

Here Are Some Preventive Measures To Reduce The Risk

Kindly ensure that your hands are washed frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the toilet or changing a diaper, before eating or preparing meals. Highly infected areas like surfaces and toilets should be first cleaned with soap and water, then with a diluted solution of chlorine bleach and water. Children should be taught how to practice good hygiene and keep themselves neat and tidy. As hand, foot and mouth disease is extremely contagious, people with the illness should limit their exposure to others while they have active signs and symptoms. They should especially be away from the toddlers.

Let Us Not Ignore A Few Risk Factors When It Comes To Kids

Hand, foot and mouth disease primarily affects children younger than age 10, frequently those below the age of 5 years. Kids at child care centres generally fall into the trap and are particularly prone to outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease because the infection spreads by person-to-person contact. As children get older, they generally tend to develop immunity to hand, foot and mouth disease by building antibodies after exposure to the virus that causes the disease. However, there are chances for adolescents and adults also to catch the infection.

Story first published: Friday, August 3, 2018, 18:00 [IST]
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